At this time when extrajudicial killings of activists happen left and right, Dr. Aloysius U. Baes-- Ochie-- quietly passed away at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute on December 21, 2006. It is not the manner of death, a poet once wrote, that makes someone a hero, it is the meaning drawn from the struggles against the foe, serving the people to his very last breath.
Despite our deep sense of loss over the death of Ochie, we celebrate the life of a man who has contributed much in the service of the oppressed and exploited people, full of significance and relevance to the Filipino people's struggle for national liberation and democracy.
A scientist through and through, he studied chemistry not only of elements and compounds but also the chemistry of society-- the complex interaction of Philippine society, working hard to change the current situation towards a better future for the oppressed majority. As an activist during Martial Law, he was one of those who faced incarceration in Marcos' jails. Afterwards, he went to the US where he obtained this Ph.D. while continually working among the Filipino community there in support of the struggle here in the Philippines. He continued this even when he transferred to Japan.
We were fortunate in AGHAM to have Dr. Aloysius Baes as one of our founding members and as the convenor of the AGHAM Laguna chapter in 2000. He was key in formulating the five concerns that a scientist could work in order to make science and technology serve the people-- in the environment, public utilities, food security and self-sufficiency, scientific and mass culture and national industrialization. He also clarified that the people themselves are the primary advocates of making science and technology for the people. He has also deepened our sense of environmental awareness driving home the point that the struggle for the environment is the struggle the people.
He never faced the dilemma of "scientific neutrality" because he never ceased to be a genuine scientist: objective and inquisitive, and yet clearly knowing where he stands in the objective reality of our society. He carried this standpoint in clarifying scientific issues through his expertise and his insightful explanations: in the toxic waste issues at the Clark Air Base, the Marinduque mining spill, in the Rapu-Rapu commission, and the Guimaras oil spill-- always explaining the effects to the people's livelihood and welfare despite the frequent obfuscation of the wrongdoers.
Ochie serves as an inspiration for all of us to take the standpoint of the people in our daily practice as scientists-- to always make science and technology serve the people. His memory will always be cherished and his life always worthy of emulation: Ochie Baes, Scientist for the People.###
WHAT MAKES A HERO
It's not the manner of death
That makes someone a hero.
It is the meaning drawn
From the struggles against the foe.
There is the hero who dies in the battlefield,
There is the hero who dies of hunger and disease,
There is the hero who dies of some accident,
There is the hero who dies of old age.
Whatever is the manner of death,
There is a common denominator
A hero serves the people
To his very last breath.