BEGG, William Vincent A.


From Bantayog ng mga Bayani (

William “Bill” Begg was born of an American father and a Filipino mother. He renounced his American citizenship when he turned 21.

He was a consistent honor student. He graduated salutatorian from the San Jose Minor Seminary in Quezon City. He continued to excel at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he was enrolled, at the same time entering the San Jose Major Seminary in Loyola.

In 1968, Bill, then a third year college student, started social action work among the urban poor communities in Barangka, Marikina, located near the campus. His political views grew increasingly militant and school authorities asked him to leave the university and the seminary.

When President Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, Bill was arrested for putting up posters in Marikina. Shortly after the declaration of martial law in 1972, Bill was again arrested by intelligence forces and detained in Fort Bonifacio.

After his release in April 1973, Bill went back to school to fulfill a promise to his father. He enrolled at the University of the Philippines taking up AB History. He tried to live a normal student’s life, joining a fraternity and organizing a history majors’ society. He did not stay long in the university, however. In September 1974, Bill left Manila for the countryside.

“I cannot in conscience continue my academic studies, nor do I have any ambition to … live a nice, peaceful and secure life. For this in effect would mean a compromise of inaction in the face of intensifying economic crises …and repression as well as monopolization of political power by a fascist dictatorship …,” he wrote in a letter he left with his parents.

From the countryside, Bill kept in touch with his parents, writing about the need for basic changes, for humanitarian service, and for liberation of the oppressed and exploited. He wrote that he was learning acupuncture and that his group was starting a medical clinic for poor farmers. He asked for and got a medical encyclopedia from his family.

On March 21, 1975, Bill was with a team of guerrillas coming to see a doctor in Villarey, Echague, Isabela, when soldiers came to raid the village. In the exchange of fire, Bill was hit in the leg. Four of his comrades were already dead. Realizing the situation, Bill urged his surviving comrades to leave while he covered their escape.

Bill was captured then brutally tortured. When his body was recovered, many of his fingers were broken. His ribcage was smashed. He had 17 stab wounds and 11 bullet wounds.

In a tribute to his extreme sacrifice, his family put the following epitaph on his epitaph: "He laid down his life for his friends."

July 14, 1950
March 21, 1975
Place of Death: 
Echague, Isabela