Dad's idea of a family outing are visits to factories (steel, sugar cane, shoes) or squatter resettlements of Carmona in Cavite and Sapang Palay in Bulacan, thirty kilometers from the city. Not so much Tondo, a squatter area near the North Harbor. My father, "Dick," to his colleagues, is on all the urban-industrial committees: Interchurch Committee on Urban Resettled Families at Carmona, Cavite, the Urban-Industrial Mission Committee of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) and The Philippine Ecumenical Council for Community Organization (PECCO). He teaches at the Asian Social Institute (ASI) and writes on these issues for Church and Community and Solidaridad.
The early 1970s is the heyday of Alinksy-style organizing and the Catholic base community movement. The ecumenical movement is strong. Rev. Henry Aguilan, a protege of Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky, offers CO training coupled with Friere's conscientization in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
Back to Elizalde and Tondo.
Of all these organizations, the best known is ZOTO, the Zone One Tondo Organization, a people's organization at the Tondo foreshore land that uses Alinksy-style organizing. PECCO brings seventy Tondo organizations together to create the Council of Tondo Foreshorelands Community Organizations (CTFCO). Dad, Fr. Dennis Murphy and Fr. Blanco, both Jesuits, and Fr Ed Gerlock a Maryknoller, are among the advisers. Sometimes I think dad loves his Catholic "buddies" more than the Protestants. (Trinidad Herrera, a ZOTO woman organizer is my hero. I write a song about her after Martial Law.)
CTFCO tries to head off another government plan to relocate the squatters. UCCP folks set up an appointment with President Marcos after their agitation to get land grants near the docks in Tondo.
Fr. Ed Gerlock regales us about their visit to President Marcos when he visits my father later in the month. About fifty of the Tondo organizers are allowed into Malacancang. They file into President Marcos's office. He is sitting behind his magnificent mahogany desk. He listens, takes notes on their complaints against government officials, and offers kind words. Then he waves at an official for them to be escorted out. Rev. Henry Aguilan speaks up, “But Mr. President, you haven’t answered our demands.” In the end, President Marcos promises them the land, but they would have to take responsibility for overseeing its distribution to bona fide residents.
Two hours later, members of CTFCO call a meeting in Tondo. One thousand show up.
For a while, priests, pastors, and community organizers wonder if the government is trying to subvert the movement; soon no one needs to wonder. The President assigns Elizalde to the Tondo project. Elizalde, the king of Panamin, creates a rival group. He then invites the officers of CTFCO without advisors to his yacht. They return home well fed, with P1,000 each. But the president of CTFCO is guilt-ridden. He confesses to his priest and returns the money to Elizalde. Elizalde is enraged. He tells him to leave his house, curses the honest leader.
Other officers won’t admit to receiving any money, so now the struggle is to keep the group from splitting up. Of course, there are accusations floating around that their advisors are CIA agents.
After Martial Law, life will turn worse for Tondo inhabitants and ZOTO organizers.