It was June 2000 when Carmelo Luna Jr. entered the University of the Philippines – Los Baños as a freshman taking BS. In Agriculture. Carmelo was among the top students who graduated from Tanauan Institute, a private school in Tanauan City, Batangas.
Carmelo Jr. is the eldest son of Jeepney driver Carmelo Baltazar Sr., and his deceased wife Lucinda. Lucinda died of breast cancer two years earlier, leaving Carmelo Sr. with three kids (Junjun and his two younger sisters).
Carmelo Sr, or Meloy as called by his neighbors, is a frustrated lawyer. He studied Political Science in San Beda College, but because poverty struck his family after his father died, he was not able to graduate and settled driving Jeepney after he got married at 24.
Meloy’s hope relied on his son Junjun.
After passing the UP scholarship program, Meloy started to dream not for himself but for his whole family, especially his two young daughters, who were both in elementary.
Meloy did never miss to remind his only son to study hard so he can support his two younger sisters someday.
Meloy’s family has landed in Tanauan, but due to lack of money to finance, the land has been rented to other people for years. It was only in 2001 that Meloy got his share of 12,000 square meters after his mother passed away. The siblings divided the land.
In 2001, Meloy learned that Junjun started joining rallies against the Estrada administration. His grades went down dramatically – a thing that caused him a grave concern.
Meloy talked to his son and tried to convince him to stop what he was doing, but the son was aggressive and told his father some things that the latter find it hard to understand. In short, Junjun’s mind was totally corrupted by the beliefs of activists.
Melo saw his hope and dreams started to shatter as his son became more and more active in campus activism.
“I didn’t know him anymore. I think I was talking to a stranger. He seldom visit us in Tanauan. After seeing his grades went down and finding it hard to convince him, I decided to cut his allowance”, Meloy said.
The cutting of his allowance angered Junjun, and he threatened his father to report to DSWD for abandoning him. Meloy was not bothered by his son’s threat, and instead, he saved the money for his older daughter’s tuition who will enter high school next year.
The second time that the father and son met, the arguments became intense as the son told his father “brainless”.
Meloy succumbed in tears after his son left their home in Tanauan. Meloy’s heart was broken into pieces as he saw his son walked away from him. He promised to himself that whatever happens, he will only support his two remaining daughters on his custody.
“Junjun was full of pride and arrogance. Masyado siyang humambog at yumabang na akala mo alam kung paano patakbuhin ang gobyerno”, Meloy recalled.
Junjun eventually became out of school youth the following year. He was supposed to be in the third year. Since the last time he and his father had an intense argument over his activism, he never set foot once again in their Tanauan house. He became active in out of school youth militant groups and made a living.
A cash-strapped Junjun decided to work in Pampanga as a production operator in one of electronics manufacturing companies in Clark.
While working, he was still active in urban militant groups, joining rallies whenever he had time.
In 2006, he got married to his fellow worker– a month after he became a regular employee.
Things started to become chaotic when on September 2007, the company’s management called his attention after a report said that he was planning to establish a labor union inside the company – a thing that was strictly prohibited by the company’s policy.
Junjun confronted the Human Resource Manager and the arguments ensued. Unknown to the management, Junjun and his backers – members of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) had been organizing meetings outside the company for more than a year already.
Junjun’s group immediately filed labor cases against the company.
After almost two years, the cases became dormant. It was announced later that Junjun’s group was lost in legal battle. Junjun resigned from his job and went on to join another militant group and became an active organizer.
It was revealed later that Carmelo Jr. dropped all cases and left the company in return for a big money offered by the latter. More than 50 of his fellow employees who followed him and believed in him lost their jobs without compensation, while Junjun went to the bank smiling.
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