Lacaba received almost all of his pre-college education from the Pasig Catholic College. And from first grade to fourth year high school, he was at the top of his class. Lacaba excelled even more in high school becoming the editor-in-chief of the school paper, president of the student body, cadet captain, a leader of a youth organization. On top of that, he also played basketball and football, and was into track and field. The well-rounded Lacaba was even an excellent actor. He finished high school as valedictorian. That same year, Lacaba qualified for the American Field Service (AFS). He went to the United States and studied for a year at Long Beach, California.
Upon returning to the Philippines, Lacaba was granted the Manuel de Leon scholarship at the Ateneo de Manila University. He chose to take up Humanities. It was at the university where he began to involve himself in social causes. Lacaba joined a group that fought for the Filipinization of the school's administration. He and his group also urged fellow students to be more socially aware and to take part in discussions on pressing issues in the society.
An incident in May 1967 further deepened Lacaba's activism: the Lapiang Malaya (Independent Party) massacre where thirty-two members of a mob of 500 were killed by soldiers while crossing Taft Avenue towards Malacanang. It was at this period of Martial Law that Lacaba decided to go to and become a full-fledged revolutionary. He set out for Mindanao to join the armed revolutionary movement.
In 1974, Lacaba went to Mindanao as a rebel. There he became part of a three-member semi-legal expansion team in General Santos City, where he specialized in propaganda. Lacaba continued to write even when he joined the revolution; in fact he wrote most of his best works on the field. But because the revolutionary movement was always mobile, Lacaba had to keep changing jobs; he even worked for some time as a janitor and a a bus conductor.
On the afternoon of March 18, 1976, Lacaba and three other companions were "slain in an encounter with the Davao Del Norte Constabulary Command" as newspapers put it. Lacaba was 27.
- Emanuel Lacaba. Poet. Warrior. Martyr. - Lisa Cariño Ito
- About the Poets – PhilippineRevolution.net
- The Brown Rimbaud - Alexander Martin Remollino - Bulatlat.com