MANILA, Philippines- On this day (Feb. 11), the people of Antique gather at the Evelio B. Javier Freedom Park in San Jose Antique to remember the heroism of one of its own, Evelio Bellaflor Javier.
A staunch supporter of former President Corazon Aquino, Javier was killed by gunmen on February 11, 1986 at the peak of the snap presidential elections.
The incident was widely seen as the tipping point of support for change against a waning Marcos dictatorship.
Javier's death ignited Visayan support for the already massive confetti revolution in Manila and other parts of Luzon.
A martyr like Ninoy
To many in Panay Island, Javier was their 'Ninoy' [Aquino]. His martyrdom stirred a people whose growing resentment against the ruling Marcos government was reaching its limits.
Javier's remains went on procession in Manila, igniting support for a brewing revolution. Through the ensuing weeks of mourning, his supporters rallied and pressed for justice, especially since Javier's killers were believed to be allies of former President Marcos and Antique's most powerful.
Candles were lit and fists clenched as Javier's favorite song, "Impossible Dream," enunciated the nation's battle against the formidable Marcos dictatorship and social change.
Ironically, Javier was gunned down just weeks before former President Ferdinand Marcos was finally booted out in the historic EDSA Revolution. The dream was possible after all.
Who is Evelio Javier?
Attorney Evelio B. Javier was born on October 14, 1942 in Hamtic, Antique. He was married and fathered two sons.
He studied Bachelor of Arts Major in History and Government at the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) where he also finished his Bachelor of Laws.
Javier won a landslide vote as Antique governor in 1971. Only 28 then, he was the country’s youngest governor.
He also pursued studies at Harvard University before heading back to the country after the death of Ninoy Aquino.
Javier was a close friend of the Aquino family.
Remembering his heroism
Today, as in the past 25 years, Javier's family and supporters offered flowers at the Freedom Park where the mood has always been solemn this time of the year.
A special non-working holiday is declared all over Antique Province to enable his supporters and town mates to take time to remember him, his death and what it represents.
Masses are said simultaneous with the tolling of bells in many of Antique's Catholic churches.
The commemorative activities of Antique's Javier Day are held at the Evelio B. Javier historical marker, located right in the heart of the Freedom Park.
The Freedom Park marks the exact spot where Javier was killed by his assailants, allegedly under orders from former Assemblyman and Marcos ally Arturo Pacificador.
Javier, who lost to Pacificador in the Batasan Pambansa elections in 1984, claimed he was cheated. In 1991, five years after his death, the Supreme Court upheld Javier's win in that election.
Pacificador evaded arrest after he and 8 others were named as the ones behind Javier's slay. While Pacificador surrendered to authorities after over a decade, he was not really pinned down for the murder of Javier.
In 2004, the Antique Regional Trial Court acquitted him while only his co-accused were pronounced guilty and were given life terms.