Issue # 1418 8 July 2009
Vale: Wilson Baldonaza
Secretary General, Kilusang Mayo Uno
President, Alliance of Nationalist and
Genuine Labour Organisation (ANGLO-KMU*)
Wilson Baldonaza was born on August 26, 1953 in Victoria, the Philippines. He was the second of five children by Lino Baldonaza and Francesca Fronda (both deceased). He entered school at the age of seven at Victoria Elementary School and at Victoria High School at the age of 13 and graduated with honours in 1970. After graduation, he went to Manila to pursue his college studies. He enrolled at the University of the East (UE) and took up Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (BSCE). He was not able to finish his college degree due to poverty.
In college, he got involved in student activism. He became a member of the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK). It was at the height of student activism and struggle against the dictatorship of Marcos that Wilson got involved for the first time in the movement for social change.
When Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972, all schools in Manila were virtually closed. All organisations were also banned. Wilson decided to go back to the province and helped organise the community youth in their place. When the political situation showed some semblance of normalcy in 1975, he went back to Manila to look for a job so that he could pursue his schooling. He got a job as a security guard at the Manila Domestic Airport. But this job did not last long. He applied in Mabuhay Textile Mills in Valenzuela, Metro Manila in 1977 and was admitted as Quality Control.
While working, he enrolled again in UE. However, the pressure of time between work and school had taken its toll on his health. So, he had to give up his schooling after a year and continued with his work.
In 1980, the workers in Mabuhay Textile Mills formed their union and Wilson became a member. A year later the union was recognised as the sole and exclusive bargaining unit in the factory. In 1982, they launched their first strike ever because of a deadlock in the collective bargaining negotiations. During the strike, Wilson got involved in every activity of the workers in the picket line. He took up trade union courses from trade union economics to political discourse. He also participated in every rally and protest action called by the union.
On August 21, 1983, Senator Benigno Aquino was shot dead. The workers’ movement became more active in the political movement for social change. The union president in Mabuhay Textile was threatened with arrest so he had to resign and go underground. The vice president took over and Wilson was elected as vice president in 1985. When the new president was recruited into a labour federation, Wilson became the new union president.
In 1986, the union, under the administration and guidance of Wilson, went on strike again over the issue of violations in the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The strike went on for six months. In the picket line, Wilson experienced all sorts of intimidation and harassment from the police and the management. Almost monthly, the management through the local police attempted to break the picket line. But the workers stood their ground.
When the strike was settled, Wilson decided to go full-time in union organising in the area. In 1987, because of his experiences in the union, he was elected Secretary General of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance) – Valenzuela chapter. BAYAN is the umbrella group of national democratic organisations in the Philippines. As Secretary General of BAYAN-Valenzuela, he had to unite all local opposition parties opposed to the Marcos rule for a common cause. He remained Secretary General up to 1990.
In 1991, he applied for a job at the Ecumenical Institute for Labour Education and Research (EILER), a church-supported workers’ institution. He became an educator for the Genuine Trade Unionism courses and later became a Project Evaluator of the institution’s Daop-Palad project until 1997. He stayed in EILER for nine years.
In 2000, he became a full-time trade union organiser again, this time in KMU. He worked as an organiser in ANGLO, a member-federation of KMU. Eventually, due to his sincerity in serving the interest of the workers, he was elected president of ANGLO-KMU in 2002 and held the post until his death.
Because of his good record in the trade union movement, he was elected Secretary General of KMU during its 9th National Congress in April 2007.
* ANGLO-KMU is an independent labour centre in the Philippines promoting militant trade unionism.
Next article – The NT Intervention two years on... Protests around Australia
Back to index page