Helenita Pardalis, was an ever popular figure of masses of Bicol and Eastern Visayas as Ka Ning, Ka Eliz, Ka Celine and Ka Elay. Ka Elay was mercilessly killed in an early morning aerial bombing raid conducted by the 8th Infantry Division in Barangay Imelda, Las Navas, Northern Samar, last November 23. She was 65 years old. Five other fighters perished in the brutal bombing that saw the the most brutal use of force by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the US-Marcos regime against a small guerrilla unit of the New People’s Army (NPA).
All democrats should extend heartfelt sympathies to Ka Elay’s entire family, especially to her husband, sons, and grandchildren, as well as to her dear comrades and friends.
Ka Elay originated from Pio Duran, Albay in the Bicol Region where she spent most of her youth. She was the eldest among 9 siblings. She studied at the Pio Duran Elementary School and the Marcial O. Raniola Memorial School in her hometown. She entered college during the early years of martial law at the Aquinas University in Legazpi City, Albay.
Grave social inequities and full scale political repression under martial law dictatorship prompted Ka Elay to become an activist and be close to the people. In a scenario of fear, and despite threats of arrests “salvagings,” she embarked on the path of resistance with death defying courage and joined the national democratic cause. She fully placed herself at the very heart of the workers and urban poor masses. Her heartfelt sympathies and manner won the affection of the masses and to comrades.
In the early 1980s, Ka Elay’s husband was abducted and disappeared by military agents in Metro Manila. She and her two children began a search that lasted for years with no end. She joined other victims of enforced disappearance and became one of the officers of the group Find (Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance). Political repression continued under the Corazon Aquino regime, and she herself was arrested and detained for a number of years. She also later got remarried with a loving husband.
In the early 1990s, inspired by the Party’s Second Great Rectification Movement, Ka Elay decided to venture to the countryside and join the New People’s Army. She returned to her home province where she integrated in mass work among the peasant masses, helping elevate their social and political consciousness and rousing the organized masses to fight for their cause.
She would later become secretary of a guerrilla front in the Libmanan-Bato area in Camarines Sur, and later as secretary of the Party’s Camarines Sur Provincial Committee. For her outstanding accomplishments in mass work and Party organizing, she was elected as a member of the Bicol Regional Committee and its Executive Committee in the late 1990s.
She was later assigned by the Central Committee to serve as Deputy Secretary of the National Peasant Commission. Her rich experience in mass work and base building was further developed, summed-up and shared across the entire Party organization and NPA. For years, she actively contributed most resourceful articles to Ang Bayan.
Later in 2015, she was appointed to the Eastern Visayas Regional Committee where she was elected as Deputy Secretary. She was appointed to the Political Bureau of the Provisional Central Committee in June the following year. She was a delegate to the 2nd Congress of the CPP in November 2016 where she was elected as a full member of the Central Committee.
At the time of her death, Ka Elay was secretary of the Party’s Regional Committee in Eastern Visayas. Over the past few years, in aftermath of merciless large-scale attacks of the enemy, Ka Elay heroically led the Party and NPA in Eastern Visayas to wage extensive and intensive counter attack through guerrilla warfare, to expand the mass base. of the party.
Without a doubt, the death of Ka Elay along with other fighters has left an irreparable wound on the Party’s leadership in the Eastern Visayas region. However new roses have blossomed, with a number of veteran and young Party cadres stepping in to take over the reins of leadership in the region. They have consolidated the leading committees and selected Ka Elay’s replacement. They are resolute to lead the Party, the New People’s Army and the revolutionary mass movement of all oppressed and exploited classes in the cities and countryside, especially amid the worsening crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal under the US-Marcos regime.
They utilised every ounce of their energy to address the urgent socioeconomic problems of the masses, waging land reform and helping the masses overcome pests, successive typhoons, flooding and other climate disasters. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the NPA in the region became the masses’ source of information and guide to overcome the health emergency. The NPA continues to organize production teams and assist the people to raise production, increase their harvest, fight for just wages and fair prices for their produce. As a result, the people’s war and the NPA continue to garner the widest support of the masses of Eastern Visayas.
The enemy unleashed a barrage of tons of bombs on the forests, fields and peasant communities, and have annihilated a number of Red fighters and Party cadres. The fascists have imposed martial law on hundreds of villages to suppress closely monitor every movement of the people, with the aspiration of breaking the people’s will to fight and prevent them from giving support to their heroic fighters. But in the process, they have only spurted greater wrath of the people.. The peasant masses of Eastern Visayas remain the seeds blossoming into new roses of the people’s war.
The impregnable bond between the masses and the New People’s Army represents part of the undying legacy of Ka Elay. Her love for the downtrodden masses was boundless and ignites the spirit of every Red fighter and Party cadre that she had crossed paths with. The enemy may have succeeded eliminating life of Ka Elay, but she has a permanent place in the hearts and minds of the revolutionary masses
It is remarkable how in every juncture of her life she raised from dire straits like a phoenix from the Ashes. In the gravest circumstances she would resurrect spirit of the New People’s Army.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has studied national liberation movements worldwide.