TO HER friends and colleagues, she was Roz. Her family called her Inday. But the name Rosalinda Galang was etched more significantly among the thousands of journalists who fought for press freedom during Martial Law.

Through her writings and membership in underground publications, Galang was able to make the Filipino people see the sordid realities of the late president Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorial regime amid threats of physical harm, if not death.

Even if 13 years have already passed since Galang succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 49, people still commemorate her and her colleagues as heroes who risked their lives to restore peace and freedom in the country.

Subversive identity

Born in 1949, Galang started working for Manila Times in her final year as a Journalism student in UST. She served as managing editor of the Varsitarian before graduating magna cum laude in 1969.

“She had always been brilliant and talented. She played piano very well,” Galang’s youngest sibling, Regina Galang-Reyes, said.

Fresh from graduation, Galang worked as a features writer for Variety, the women’s magazine of the Manila Times.

Soon she was transferred to the news department and was assigned to report on the chaotic student protests during the First Quarter Storm, a period of leftist unrest in the Philippines during the 1970s.

“My sister was arrested the night before Martial Law was declared,” said Reyes.

A promising reporter at 23, Galang was suspected of “subversive” activities brought by her coverage of student rallies. She later found herself included in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) “National List of Target Personalities.”

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Survey of mediocrity

“I noticed that my sister Roz was not in her bed. Despite my fear, I crept down our stairs and sat on the steps to find out what was happening. I could not understand what they were talking about, but I sensed that military men were arresting my sister Roz and my father was arguing with them about it,” Reyes recalled.

Although their father Ruben was a retired colonel of the AFP, he was left with no choice but to let his daughter go and just ask to give Galang some time to pack her clothes.

Detained journalist

Alone and not knowing anyone, Galang was detained in Camp Crame for eight months along with other media men and activists.

“I do not know what she had to endure during the first hours and days of her arrest. She never did share her harrowing experiences with me,” said Reyes.

Reyes also mentioned that she only saw her sister again when she was already transferred to a big hall filled with bunk beds with other female detainees.

Reyes said she visited her sister frequently and would often see her producing beautiful crocheted blouses and shawls to pass time and maintain her sanity and inner strength.

“During my visits, she was always calm and even cheerful,” Reyes said. “I never saw her cry or break down, but I could sense a quiet defiance and a strong faith that she would be free one day.”

True enough, Galang was released after several months in camp and Reyes assumed that it was through the efforts of their father who incessantly worked for his daughter’s liberty.

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Blessings in passing

People expected her to lie low to avoid any more arrests, Galang eventually became more active than ever in protests against the Marcos government, her sister said.

“My sister Roz was one tough cookie. Incarcerated, she remained defiant but strong. Once released, she stuck to her principles and courageously continued to help the country regain its freedom,” said Reyes.

Galang went underground, joining the communist movement. She edited the underground paper, Kalayaan.

Caring mother

Galang married Ricardo Reyes, who became secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He was arrested and became one of those released in 1986 when Cory Aquino swept into power. He is now the president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and founding member and former chair of the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party.

Galang and Reyes had a son.

“She was a very caring mother,” Galang’s sister said. “Because they had only one son, they gave him the attention and proper guidance he needed. That is why he is a very upright man right now.”

Galang’s pretty and shy exterior disguised her strong character.

“My sister is very strong-willed that even imprisonment and cancer could not stop her from pursuing her goals,” Reyes said. “She treated her problems as challenges that must be surpassed.”

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