Ma. Lorena Barros

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Ma. Lorena Barros was a poet and activist during the Martial Law period. She co-founded the militant women’s organization Makibaka in 1971.

Early Life

Barros was born on March 18, 1948 to Alicia Morelos and Romeo Barros. Hers was a family of revolutionaries; in fact he family's patriarch, Herbacio Eusebio, was a member of the Katipunan. Moreover, Barros' mother Alicia served in the Hukbalahap during the Japanese Occupation as a courier.


Barros got good grades in Instituto de Mujeres (Acedemy for Women) but had to transfer to St. Joseph's College. There she completed her elementary education and was a consistent honor student. Barros then attended the FEU Girls' High where she was a very active student. She excelled in various extra-curricular activities ranging from gymnastics to journalism. She graduated from high school with an honorable mention. When Barros entered University of the Philippines as an Anthropology major, she quickly immersed herself in writing, joining and later becoming an officer of the prestigious UP Writers' Club. While in UP, Barros also joined the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (Association of Democratic Youth).


It was during the First Quarter Storm of the 70s, while Barros was still a graduating student of the university, when she was radicalized. She was one of the students who staged a protest during the commencement exercises that year. Being an intellectual, Barros devoured books on nationalism and democracy. And with the help of colleagues from the Kabataang Makabayan and the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan, she was further drawn to the "fight for freedom". She was described as "an epitome and proponent of the women’s liberation movement" during those times, and with her views on the new role of Filipinas in the society, a lot looked up to and followed her. Barros founded MAKIBAKA in 1971, today regarded as the first second-wave feminist organization in the country. During President Marcos' regime however, the organization was forced to hide and to operate underground. It was at this point when Barros, only in her 20s, decided to join the New People’s Army (NPA) and become a guerrilla fighter. She would eventually rise among the ranks and become a valuable part of the movement.


While accounts still vary due to lack of eyewitnesses, it is widely believed that on March 24, 1976, government military troops raided a hut in Mauban, Quezon. Barros, being the central command in the area, ordered her comrades to make an escape and to camp on higher grounds. But Barros herself insisted on waiting for another comrade to return. She met her tragic death that same day. She was only 28 years old.




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