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“Unless we take steps to address the root problems of our society, more young people will follow Kemberly’s footsteps in the days to come”

— From a tribute of the League of Filipino Students (Lanao) to Kemberly Jul Luna who died in Decmber 2009 in Bukidnon

IN MEMORY OF KEMBERLY JUL LUNA:  ISKOLAR NG BAYAN, FREEDOM FIGHTER

January 4, 2010


“Umaalis ang mga anak upang habulin ang kanilang mga pangarap, at malao’t madali, maraming magulang ang tumutunton sa duguang bakas ng kanilang mga anak…upang sunduin ang kanilang bangkay at iuwi ang pinakadakilang katibayan ng kanilang pagkatao.” – Lualhati Bautista

We, from the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (STAND) in MSU-IIT, express our utmost grief and sorrow over the death of our beloved comrade Kemberly Jul Luna.

Kemberly, or “Kimay,” as she was known to her friends and comrades, was an AB English student in MSU-IIT. Known for her beauty and intellect, Kimay showed a lot of talent and  gained many friends inside and outside of the school . She was a high school valedictorian and participated in many academic and cultural events. She was, for a time, a member of MSU-IIT’s Kalimulan, a cultural dance group.

She was also an active member of the Catholic Center Campus Ministry  where she became a leader of the Educational Committee. There, amidst the daily masses, boarding house meetings and other activities, she concluded that faith without action is dead. She always sought for ways to show that her Christian faith will not be confined to empty words and prayers, but will be brought out to the real world and be coupled by relevant action based on concrete conditions. She believed that faith should not be a lifeless dogma. She believed that just like Jesus, one must bring faith to serving the people— without thought of oneself. And just like Jesus, to die in service of the poor and oppressed.

She joined LFS in early 2008 and was an active participant in the League’s many activities, including the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) of October 2008 in the face of humanitarian crises plaguing the war-stricken Moroland. She was part of the local secretariat and headed the area preparation committee in Poona Piagapo, one of the target municipalities for the Mission. Daring as always, Kimay did not hesitate entering the war-torn village of Tagoranao to uncover the effects of indiscriminate aerial bombing and militarization in the area. She also convinced one of the victims to make a testimony openly on the events in the affected areas in Lanao.

She actively joined the “No to All-Out War” campaign and various other campaigns, including the campaign against US intervention in the country and militarization of peasant and Moro communities.


At the opening of the first semester, she was chosen as the ad hoc chairperson of STAND-IIT. From then on she brought the cry of the youth and student sector in classroom and group discussions and out to the streets in rallies where she acted as STAND-IIT’s official spokesperson.

Kemberly was a very good example to her comrades and to the people around her. She showed youthful fervor and gave her heart to everything she did inside the organization. As an ordinary student, she was once quite a heavy drinker and a late riser, but when after she joined the League, she showed exemplary effort to remould herself  and do away with her old habits. She shed herself off of all the petty-bourgeois individualism.

At the opening of the second semester, we found out that she did not enroll. Later, she requested to be relieved as STAND-IIT chairperson, saying that she would stop school and do full-time peasant organizing work with KASAMA-Bukidnon, a province-wide peasant organization. She stood firm with her decision, saying she would like to do more in service of the poor, and that she could only do that in the countryside, where the majority of the poorest people live. On January 2009, after a short Christmas visit to her family in Surigao, Kemberly went off to Bukidnon to start her community work. She promised however that she would maintain correspondence with us.

On August 2009, we received a letter from her saying that she left KASAMA-Bukidnon but did not say where she went to and that she is happy where she was at that time, and that she has learned to love the peasant masses more with each day she lives with them. Kimay also happily shared to us her experiences in the peasant communities, from helping the peasants harvest corn to teaching them to read and write and do a little arithmetic, since literacy in the area is extremely low. She was also known to the people in the community as a health worker, often called as “Ma’am Nurse.”

Kimay is a true “iskolar ng bayan,” who did not waste the people’s tax money spent for her education only for personal ambitions, but used her time, talent and intellect in service of the people. She traded her comfortable life of night parties and hangovers for the cold, harsh and mosquito-ridden mountains of Bukidnon because she knew that she was on the right path.

In mid-December last year, we learned that Kemberly was missing through a report from Karapatan-Bukidnon Chapter, a human rights organization. A number of LFS and STAND-IIT members went to Bukidnon to join the search. We searched for her in the camp of the 403rd Inf Bde, 4th ID, PA but the officials of the brigade prevented us from entering the camp and denied that Kemberly was in their hands. During the middle of the search however, we learned that Kemberly died in an encounter with elements of the Philippine Army in Sitio Bulacao, Brgy. Concepcion, Valencia City. She was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).


We found Kimay’s corpse lying with a few others in the middle of the forest of Bulacao, unattended by the state forces who were bound by agreement to respect the casualties of war, combatant or not.

But Kimay died an honorable death. She died because she fought for what she believed in until the very last minute of her life. She chose the path of armed struggle, firmly believing that there is no greater form of struggle to advance the interests of the toiling masses.

She broke the stereotype that the New People’s Army is a pack of delinquents— of tramps who lack a better future.

We salute Kimay for her determination. She was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice— all for the interest of the people without thinking of herself. She has proven that this rotten social system breeds unrest and many of the younger generation long for a better society that is based on social justice. This system pushes many of our youth to take up arms to achieve the national democratic goal. We believe that her death poses a challenge to all of us— that unless we take steps to address the root problems of our society, more and more young people will follow Kemberly’s footsteps in the days to come.

We also salute her parents, who were in deep pain, but calmly accepted her fate. They respected her decision to choose the path less traveled.

The League of Filipino Students and STAND-IIT vow to pursue the national democratic struggle, not just because this is precious to Kemberly, but because we believe in its relevance in answering today’s basic social problems. We stand firm, as Kimay did, that a true people’s scholar should not confine himself/herself inside the four walls of the classroom and study empty theories on the chalkboard. A true scholar uses his/her talents and intellect to serve the studentry, as well as the broad masses of the people. A true scholar like Kemberly never allows one;s schooling to interfere with one’s education.

Long live the memory of Kemberly Jul Luna!

Long live the national democratic struggle!


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