MANUEL C. COLAYCO
During the final days of the Pacific War in Manila, the bravery he showed in leading a group of soldiers in the rescue operations for Filipino and American prisoners at the compound of the University of Santo Tomas cost him his life, but it earned him the reputation of “liberation hero.”
The oldest of eight children of Rufo Colayco and Petrona Carlos, Manuel Colayco was born in Pasay on May 29, 1906. He grew up under the care of parents who were both practicing teachers. His father taught mathematics in a private school, while his mother was a public elementary school teacher.
In 1919, he completed his primary education at the Mabini Elementary School in Ermita. He enrolled at the Manila High School in Intramuros in 1920 but transferred in 1921 to the Ateneo de Manila, where he not only completed his secondary education but also acquired his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1930.
At the Ateneo, he became the editor of its school annual, the Aegis, and the first editor of the Guidon, its student publication. He was a gold medal awardee in oratory, and had a stint as captain of the school’s Reserved Officers Training Corps’ crack company.
Following his graduation in 1930, he joined the faculty of the University of Santo Tomas, where he lectured in apologetics and social science for four years. Also teaching part-time at the Assumption Convent and St. Theresa’s College, he took up law at UST obtaining his bachelor of laws degree in 1934. A year later, on March 19, 1935, he wed Clemencia Joven, a fellow instructor at the pontifical university.
He edited the English section of La Defensa, and became the first editor of the Philippine Commonweal. He was an ardent disciple of Christian Democracy. In 1939, he was named head of the Philippine delegation to the International Eucharistic Congress that was convened in Budapest. His trip to the United States gave him a chance to visit Woodstuck College in Maryland and Notre Dame University where he was asked to deliver a lecture.
When the Pacific War broke out, Colayco enlisted in the Philippine Army. Conscious of his patriotic duty to defend his country against the invading Japanese, he volunteered to be part of Bataan’s first line of defense. He figured in an encounter with the enemy forces in Tuol, Bataan on February 25, 1942.
After the fall of Bataan, he was one of those who suffered brutalities in the hands of the Japanese during the heinous Death March. After some Harrowing days at the Capas concentration camp in Tarlac, he was released by his Japanese captors.
His release gave him the opportunity to contact his loyal friends and followers. He reestablished the Allied Intelligence Bureau in October 1942, becoming Chief of its 7th Manila Unit. He also published an underground paper, Freedom, which eventually found its way to Malacañang Palace and the Japanese embassy.
During the liberation of Manila, he volunteered to lead a group of soldiers to the main gate of the University of Santo Tomas. Its campus was heavily guarded because thousands of American and Filipino prisoners were held there. He was at the UST main gate pointing out to his men the important buildings and other strategic spots, specially the place were the prisoners were being held, when an enemy hand grenade exploded right in front of them. He was one of those fatally wounded. This was on February 10, 1945.
On May 29, 1984, a marker was installed in his honor at Derham Plaza, Pasay City.
Cuneta, Armando G. Kasaysayan ng Kamaynilaan, Manila, 1984.
Manuel, E. Arsenio and Magdalena Avenir Manuel, Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume III. Manila: Filipiniana Publication, 1986.