By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Antiqueños on Wednesday claimed that the provincial government led by Governor Rhodora Cadiao had been neglecting the memorabilia and personal effects of the late former governor and local hero Evelio B. Javier.
In an open letter on Wednesday titled “An Expression of Public Disgust and a Call to Action”, “concerned and freedom-loving sons and daughters of the Province of Antique” condemned what they called “willful neglect” of Javier’s memorabilia.
They presented a timeline leading to their “public expression of anger” towards the local government:
- 1989 – a small gallery of Javier’s memorabilia and personal effects was put up at the New Capitol Building;
- 2007 – the gallery was transferred to the Old Capitol Building just beside the new building;
- 2010 – the contents of the said gallery were transferred to the Museo Antiqueño and was open to the public until 2018;
- 2018 – the contents of Museo Antiqueño, including the EBJ gallery, had been transferred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) building in San Jose due to the renovation of the Old Capitol building;
- 2019 – photos were sent to Javier’s eldest son Gideon showing the handling of the memorabilia and personal effects by caretakers;
- November 2019 – the National Museum Visayas office arrived in San Jose upon Gideon’s request to inventory the contents of the gallery, and pieces were re-wrapped and locked away at the IBP building until the present time;
- March 9, 2022 – restored Old Capitol Building was inaugurated and according to a press release by Antique lone district Rep. Loren Legarda’s office, there will be a textile gallery, archived materials, and a proposed provincial library, with no mention of a space for Javier’s memorabilia and personal effects.
“[We] are aghast, disgusted, and enraged upon learning such a careless display of negligence and complete disregard for the remaining personal items, publications, and memorabilia of [Javier],” the open letter said.
“A gallery may just be a symbolic representation of former Gov. Evelio B. Javier but it pains us to know that his belongings have been relegated to an abandoned building exposed to termites, humidity, dust, and natural calamities. Its neglect is tantamount to erasing whatever memories and legacy the good governor has left to us. Since 2018 to this day, his bullet-riddled, bloodied t-shirt, considered a national treasure, is locked up in an old and dilapidated building kept in a manner that is way below the standard of maintaining historical items,” they added.
They also mentioned the March 2021 letter of Cadiao to Vice Governor Edgar Denosta and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Antique, requesting for official declarations to rename the airport as Antique (Philippines) International Airport, removing Javier’s name.
According to a Manila Bulletin report, Cadiao had already dropped the proposal to rename the airport last year, but clarified to Gideon that the renaming did not intend to revise history.
They said that these actions by the local officials were “vile attempts [that] can lead to historical revision, even distortion, and an opening to create a different and false narrative for future generations.”
They also reminded that the lack of care toward these items may constitute violation of Republic Act No. 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009).
They recommended that Cadiao write an Executive Order initiating the Evelio B. Javier Museum, followed by an agreement with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for its construction and development.
“We therefore demand that our government officials legislate and build a decent and properly managed museum not just to house the remaining items of our late hero and memorial for those who lost their lives during decades of brutal Marcos years in Antique, but also to build a lasting
legacy that shall have this prime objective: To preserve and document the Iife of Gov. Evello B. Javier so as to inspire future generations of Filipinos to take the mantle of leadership courageously, serve in politics not as a source of wealth nor Inheritance, to fight for truth and justice, and do whatever It takes to make the country and the world a better place to live in,” they said.
The open letter was signed by 32 Antiqueños who were currently based in other parts of the Philippines and of the world, including Gideon who is currently living in Muntinlupa.
Daily Guardian is still trying to get the side of Cadiao.
Javier was gunned down by heavily armed men at the public plaza of the capital town of San Jose, Antique Feb 11, 1986 during the canvassing of votes of the snap presidential elections contested by former presidents Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Corazon “Cory” Aquino.
Since 1987, the day of Javier’s death has been commemorated on Panay Island as Governor Evelio B. Javier Day, where residents take the time to remember his heroism.
His death was seen as one of the catalysts leading to the EDSA People Power Revolution on Feb 25, 1986.