BARROS, Ma. Lorena M.


From Bantayog ng mga Bayani (

Ma. Lorena Barros was raised alone by a widowed mother. Her father, a fisherman, died when Lorie was four months old. Poverty perplexed the young Lorie. She would ask her mother why there were rich and poor people. Mother and daughter often discussed this puzzle. Her mother would point to the blind beggars lining the church doors at Quiapo Church, which they visited regularly, and told Lorie how much luckier she was compared to them.

Lorie was a bright student, earning honors from grade school through college. In college, Lorie first took up BS Chemistry at the University of the Philippines, shifting later to AB Anthropology. She was a consistent scholar and graduated magna cum laude in 1970.

She started writing poems when she was 10. In high school, she edited her high school paper Advocate from 1963 to 1964, and won a gold medal for creative writing. In college, she joined and later chaired the UP Writer's Club. Her poems and essays were later published in well-known magazines and national publications.

Lorie taught English in college after graduation, at the same time, taking up a masteral course in anthropology. Studying and teaching simultaneously, Lorie also became more deeply involved in activist concerns. She joined exposure trips to the countryside to learn firsthand the oppression of peasant farmers.

Lorie organized the all-women Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Makibaka) and became its first chair. Makibaka chapters quickly spread across the country, in factories, in villages, and even in exclusive girls’ schools.

When President Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, Lorie was one of 63 student leaders charged with subversion. Lorie moved into the countryside, hoping to escape arrest and enjoy more freedom of movement. Martial law found Lorie deep in peasant organizing work. She married and bore a son.

She was arrested in Bicol in November 1973. First she was brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna and then moved to the Fort Bonifacio Rehabilitation Center. After one year in detention, Lorie made a daring escape with three other political prisoners. She later rejoined the political underground, from where she would join the fight against the Marcos dictatorship.

She continued to write poems, songs and essays wherever she was. In 1974, the regime announced a P35,000-reward for her capture.

Lorie was killed on March 24, 1976, in an armed encounter with constabulary soldiers in Cagsiay, Mauban, Quezon. A companion was killed instantly. Lorie was captured, seriously wounded. Her captors demanded information in exchange for medical treatment. Lorie refused, saying she wanted to die with her beliefs. She was shot in the nape. She was 28 years old.

Family and friends gave Lorie a heroine's wake and burial. Her comrades, in a tribute to her courage and conviction, marched with her coffin singing revolutionary songs. Necrological services were held for her at the University of the Philippines campus, attended by students, teachers and friends.

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March 18, 1948
March 24, 1976
Place of Death: 
Mauban, Quezon