Libre: What a brother I have

·2 min read

If you are a subscriber of Bisaya magazine, you must have come across the name Eric SB Libre. He writes poetry, short stories and even jokes.

He has won recognition for his writings from groups that promote the Bisaya language. He is the only brother I have who is living, as the two eldest, Warren and Angel III, have passed away years ago. Our siblings had a virtual meeting this month and sadly, Noy Eric could not interact verbally as he has a health issue and is undergoing therapy.

I will dedicate this space to my dear brother — Eric Santiago Batulan Libre. In my infant years, I did not have much interaction with him, as he was given away by my grandfather Angel Sr. to an aunt who had no child. My father Angel Jr. and mother Milagros were not consulted, but were eventually persuaded to let him go, as there were four other younger children that they had to raise.

Noy Eric grew up in Cabadbaran and later in Butuan, excelling in school and becoming the news editor of the school’s official organ. It was one of the reasons for me to join the Light of Lapulapu of the Abellana National School.

He enrolled in the University of San Carlos as a state scholar and lived with us. He was home – but not for long. He became active in student activism and spoke in protests against the looming Marcos dictatorship. When martial law was declared, he vowed to fight the regime and pursued a life as an underground propagandist and freedom fighter. A brave decision. Courageous and idealistic, what brother I have. When a paranoia-driven hysteria hit the underground movement shortly before Edsa I broke out, he and his wife were wrongly accused of being government deep penetration agents and imprisoned by their own comrades in jungle camps where they were tortured. They were among the lucky ones to survive the ordeal and get out alive after months of being in chains. Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, who personally supervised their arrest, wrote a letter to them apologizing for the unfortunate mistake.

With Marcos ousted, he returned to school, finishing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Economics and Business Management. Instead of taking a stable teaching job, he opted to work in a nongovernment organization that served the marginalized sector. Dedicated to the masses, what a brother I have.

As a senior citizen, he returned to his first love — writing. He is a freelance contributor to Bisaya Magazine and MindaNews, He has self-published “Inalisbo sa Pulbora,” a collection of Binisayâ short stories and poems about armed conflict and the quest for peace.

Noy Eric, you have touched the lives of many people, especially the vulnerable. You fought for freedom and democracy, and through your writings you still do. You are an inspiration to many, most importantly to me. What a brother I have. Don’t give up the fight.