Three Fil-Ams Honored in Philippine Heroes Memorial

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SAN FRANCISCO—Two Filipino Americans murdered in Seattle in 1981 by operatives of the Marcos dictatorship are among the first three Filipino Americans to be included in the Philippines’ roll of heroes of democracy.

Silme Domingo, Viernes Viernes, and Arturo Taca were added to the roster of heroes and martyrs of the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani (Wall of Remembrance) on Nov. 30, honoring those who died fighting the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Domingo and Viernes were leading activists of the radical Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino (Union of Democratic Filipinos); Taca was a leader of the moderate Movement for a Free Philippines.

Outraged by the rise of a dictatorial regime in the Philippines, the three joined thousands of U.S.-based Filipinos in the long fight against Marcos. Like Domingo and Viernes, many of these young Filipinos were children of immigrants who grew up in the United States, but who found themselves drawn to what was going on in their parents’ homeland.

It was a risky struggle. Marcos was known to have allies in the United States who spied on and bullied the regime’s opponents. In the case of Domingo and Viernes, the harassment turned to violence.

On June 1, 1981, three assassins walked into the Cannery Workers Local 37 in Seattle, and shot Domingo and Viernes. The murderers, led a by a known associate of the dictator, were arrested and convicted to life without parole. Taca died of natural causes.

In a civil suit against the Marcoses, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote, as quoted in the Seattle Times: “The court concludes that the plaintiffs have provided clear, cogent and convincing evidence that the Marcoses created and controlled an intelligence operation which plotted the murders of Domingo and Viernes.”

The Marcoses were ordered to pay damages to the families of the two murdered Filipino American activists.