LACABA, Emmanuel F.

From Bantayog ng mga Bayani (

Emmanual Lacaba, or Eman, was an award-winning poet, fictionist, essayist and playwright, a magazine illustrator, a stage actor and a production hand, a university lecturer, a song writer, a martial arts teacher, and even an occultist. He was an honor student from grade school to high school and won a full scholarship at the Ateneo de Manila in college.

Flower child Eman started to show political awareness during the first quarter storm of 1970, when he began political actions. He named his two daughters, born during that period, Miriam Manavi Mithi Mezcaline Mendiola, and Emanwelga.

Eman was a teacher of Rizal’s life and works in UP when he was arrested and detained due to his participation in a strike. He lost his job at UP as a result.

In 1974 Eman decided to join the New People’s Army in South Cotabato. He took up the name Popoy Dakuykoy, an allusion to a comic book character whose name he had once used for a character in an epic poem he had written in the 1960s.

Eman was well known for his passion. When he ran out of paper to write on, he wrote on the backs of cigarette foils. Fellow writers described him as the “shy young poet forever writing last poem after last poem,” the “Brown Rimbaud” who became a people’s warrior.

Eman had been with the NPA two years when in March 1976 an informer had led a troop of soldiers to their camp. With no warning shots or calls for surrender, the soldiers opened fire. All the guerrillas were killed immediately, except Eman and a pregnant teenager who were both wounded. They were being taken to Tagum, Davao del Norte, when the sergeant who headed the soldiers gave the instruction “not to bring anyone back alive.”

The pregnant woman was first to be shot dead, then Eman, who is said to have dared the informer, “Go ahead, finish me off.” The informer had then put a .45 into his mouth and fired. Eman’s mother claimed the bodies later.

Eman is perhaps the first nationally-known creative writer who joined the armed struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. Poems and articles were written about him after his death. A collection of his poems, Salvaged Poems, was published posthumously in 1986. Another collection, Salvaged Prose, of his short stories, plays and essays, is being prepared. His life has been made into a feature film by Swedish director Vilgot Sjoman.

December 10, 1949
March 18, 1976
Place of Death: 
Balaag, Tucaan, Davao