It just struck me that Jerry was only 2 years younger than my biological father and that he was probably of same year as his close cousin Jose Vicente Braganza, SVD. I mention the latter because he first mentioned Jerry’s name to us in the early sixties as the foremost thinker and mover of Philippine social reform. Of course, I did not yet understand what he meant by that.
In the early sixties we were students of a man in jail, Luis M. Taruc, one who quite patiently opened our eyes to the underside of Philippine society. But it was in the mid-sixties, year 1964 to be precise, that we thought we really saw it all ever so clearly, when Braganza brought us Jerry Montemayor. We got to see at last the incarnation of profound theory and authentic practice.
The Dean was a scholar, no doubt about it. The Dean was a revolutionary, most clearly so. And his spirituality was so transparent. I left everything to follow this man. He brought me to the barrios, first of all. He engaged me in dialogical education. He guided my scholarly pursuits. He let me loose in the practice of social revolution.
So close did we become to each other that whenever and wherever he could not make it, I was his first representative. He invited me to live in his house with his growing family. He was so successful in my formation that in the end when martial law was declared we inevitably parted ways. But after Edsa (1986), we resumed.
I have a few more years this side, I hope, and the Dean may still have some use for me. What is 100 years in the light of eternity? Under his tutelage I learned to answer the question, “Whom do you serve?” The poor, the deprived, the oppressed, who, at this time still, are the Filipino farmers and workers. – Ka Charlie Avila –