MANILA — Activist Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida, the outspoken former leader of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) who came in the public eye during the EDSA Dos, has passed away, her organization said Monday.
She was 93.
In a Facebook post, Kadamay hailed Deunida as a "dakilang lider-maralita" and "ina ng pakikibabaka ng maralitang lungsod."
(Great leader of the poor, and mother of the struggle of the urban poor.)
The cause of her death was not disclosed.
Kadamay said Deunida started her activist life in 1978 while the country was under Martial Law.
“Kapansin-pansin ang husay ni Ka Mameng sa pagsasalita sa entablado. Sa simple at payak na lenggwahe, at lumalagablab na boses, nasapul niya ang paglalarawan sa krisis at pakikibaka ng maralitang lungsod,” the group said in a statement.
(Ka Mameng's ability to speak on stage is remarkable. In simple and straightforward language, and a fiery voice, she was able to describe the crisis and struggles of the urban poor.)
“Walang duda, nayayanig ang mga mapagsamantala sa kanyang tinig. Walang duda, kapag si Nanay Mameng ang magsasalita, lahat ay makikinig. Ang kanyang mga sinasabi ay tila gabay at nagiging karaniwang nabibigkas ng mga aktibista't organisador,” it added.
(No doubt, the exploiters were shaken by her voice. No doubt, when Nanay Mameng speaks, everyone listens. Her statements serve as guide and then become what activists and organizers usually say.)
Kadamay highlighted Deunida’s role to lead the urban poor during the second EDSA People Power that ousted then President Joseph Estrada over corruption allegations.
"Si Nanay Mameng ang nagsilibing matapang na tinig ng mga maralita sa panahong iyon. Kapag nagsalita sya sa Makati sa mga broad rally sa Ayala, kahit ang mga professionals at mga CEO’s ay napapahinto at nakikinig at pumapalakpak," said Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
(Nanay Mameng was the courageous voice of the poor at the time. Whenever she speaks during rallies in Makati, even the professionals and CEOs stop, listen and applaud.)
"Sa kanya ang kakaibang tapang, na hindi alintana ang edad o pangangatawan."
(Her courage is unique, and was regardless of her age and built.)
Party-list group Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas offered condolences to the people who were touched by Deunida’s bravery.
“Nanay Mameng earned the title 'Ina ng Pakikibaka ng Maralitang Lungsod' for dedicating her life as an activist and community organizer since 1978. She is a staunch urban poor rights defender who never failed to speak out on societal issues. Her speeches were always simple but sharp and on point -- reflective of her wisdom, built up from living with the masses and deep involvement in their struggle,” said Brosas.
“From the Marcos dictatorship to the present bloody regime under President Duterte, Nanay Mameng's voice remains an inspiration to activists and human rights advocates who dare to speak out against the government's anti-poor and anti-people policies.”
“Buong buhay ay inialay niya para sa mga maralita. Para sa aming henerasyon, nag-iisa lang siyang Nanay Mameng," said Reyes of Bayan.
(Her whole life she devoted to the poor. For our generation, Nanay Mameng is one and only.
Kadamay said Deunida's voice continued to be heard during the administrations of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III, and Rodrigo Duterte.
"Nag-iiwan si Nanay Mameng sa atin ng hamon at paalala: ubos-kaya at ubos lakas tayong kumilos, magtiwala sa lakas ng masa, at kamtin ang tagumpay na hindi na niya masisilayan," the group said.
(Nanay Mameng left us a challenge and a reminder: we must exhaust all efforts to continue the movement, to trust the strength of the masses, and achieve victory that she no longer can see.)
Look back on the life of Nanay Mameng from the archives: