EVELIO B. JAVIER
UTOPIA BATCH 1965 POSTHUMOUS UTOPIA HALL OF FAME AWARD APRIL 05,2006
Young Evelio started his education at the San Jose Elementary School in Antique in 1955. For his secondary education, his parents sent him to Ateneo High School in Manila where he would graduate with first honors. In 1963, he graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with the degree of Bachelor of Arts major in History and Government. Evelio further pursued his Law degree at the Ateneo College of Law, finishing in 1968 and passing the bar exams on the same year.
His life as a law student was not constricted in the four walls of the classroom. He was elected President of the Student Council, College of Law Athletic Club and serving at the same time Editor-in-Chief of the Palladium (currently known as El Ponente) on his last year in law school. Added to this, he was also a prominent member of the Fraternal Order of Utopia. During these times, Evelio honed his leadership skills without losing the Ignatian spirit of faith, justice and courage. His brand of leadership and service, deeply centered in the teachings of Christ, would later cost him his life.
In 1972, Evelio went back to Antique to seek for public office. As the official candidate of the Liberal Party, Evelio won the elections by one of the biggest margins in the history of the province’s gubernatorial race, beating the incumbent governor then. He became the governor of Antique at the age of twenty-nine (29), the youngest governor of the Philippines at the time.
As governor, he was well loved by his people. The youth and the children adored him and his charisma was overwhelming that people find solace in his presence. To most people who knew him, he was an idealist. Thus, he was dubbed as the Don Quixote of Antique. During his eight years in public office, Evelio constantly took the cudgels of justice and though his administration could not boast of infrastructure projects, his passion for service and his dedication to his work inspired his constituents to strive for the betterment of their own lives without relying too much on what the government can give.
At the end of his term in 1980 and though he was assured of a re-election, Evelio gave up the governorship to Zaldivar to pursue a scholarship grant at the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1981. There he obtained his Masters Degree in Public Administration with substantive areas of concentration in International Development, and Political Analysis. In 1982, he became the Director of the Pacific Bureau, The Democracy International, and the partner of the Zaldivar, Javier and Lumba Law Offices. In 1983, he became partner of the law firms of Edith Engel Ford and EB Javier, Philippines and California.
He could have safely left the Marcos-type of politics during those times and abandoned his dreams for his home province. He could have easily done so but Evelio knew he had to return to Antique. In 1984, he ran for Antique’s lone seat in the Batasang Pambansa and was subsequently cheated by Arturo Pacificador, on of Marcos’s staunch ally. Guns, goons and gold prevailed in the final tally of the elections.
In spite of losing the elections, Evelio did not hide in the shadows of silence. He remained to be an opposition leader in Antique especially against the abuses of the Marcos regime. When Marcos decided to call the 1985 snap elections, Evelio rallied behind the Aquino-Laurel ticket. In Antique, he helped in monitoring the canvassing of votes in order to protect the election results. Four days after the elections, February 11, 1986, in broad daylight, six hooded men gunned down Evelio Javier in cold blood in front of the Antique Provincial Capitol. He was 43.
His death opened the eyes not only of his province mates but also of the entire nation of the grim reality befalling the country then. His death was one of the flames that ignited the beginning of the People Power Revolution which was staged a few days after his death.
Evelio was accorded no less than a hero’s burial by supporters, friends and colleagues. No less than an estimated 50,000 mourners from all over the country grieved over his death. A caravan, which lasted for twenty hours, marked the day of his burial on February 20, 1986. Five days later, the Filipino people could not take it anymore and decided to oust Ferdinand Marcos in the EDSA revolt.
Evelio Javier was given a posthumous LUX IN DOMINO award by the Ateneo de Manila University in 1986. The award was meant to be a “special recognition of an extraordinary individual who has incarnated in life and exemplary manner, the noblest idea of the Ateneo…” Other recipients of this award include Raul Manglapus and Francisco ‘Soc’ Rodrigo.
In recognition of his achievements, the Ateneo School of Law has been conferring the Evelio Javier Leadership Award since 1987 to a “graduating student who, throughout his entire law school, has consistently pursued in an exemplary way, the ideals of genuine leadership, concern for fellow students, and a selfless service to the law school and to the community.”
Justice Isagani Cruz, in Javier vs. COMELEC (22 Sept. 1986) ends his eloquent decision with a tribute to Evenly, thus: Let us first say these meager words in tribute to a fallen hero who was struck down in the vigor of his youth because he dared to speak against tyranny. Where many kept a meekly silence for fear of retaliation and still others feigned and fawned in hopes of safety and even reward, he chose to fight. He was not afraid. Money did not tempt him. Threats did not daunt him. Power did not awe him. His was a singular and all-exacting obsession: the return of freedom to his country. And though he fought not in the barricades of war amid the sound and smoke of shot and shell, he was a soldier nonetheless, fighting valiantly for the liberties of his people against the enemies of his race, unfortunately, of his race too, who would impose upon the land a perpetual night of dark enslavement. He did not see the breaking of dawn, sad to say, but in the very real sense Evelio B. Javier made that dawn draw nearer because he was, like Saul and Jonathan, “swifter than eagles and stronger than lions.”