The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila on Monday honored martyred student activist Liliosa “Lilli” Hilao as the University opens its dedicated gender and development section within campus.
Surviving relatives of the 23-year-old who is the first known victim of state-sponsored killings during the Martial Law era joined members of the PLM Board of Regents, executive committee, and student leaders during the virtual opening of the Lilliosa Hilao Gender and Development Corner located at the Celso Al Carunungan Memorial Library. It will carry various materials that will promote gender equality and equitable opportunities for all members of the PLM community.
Her sisters Alice and Josefina Hilao recounted their dear Lilli’s youth filled with passion for learning and for correcting moral injustices. The same fire that got Lilli’s cum laude status up to her senior year as a Communication Arts student also fueled her efforts to speak up against the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship 48 years ago.
“Liliosa Hilao remains relevant today. We look up to her as an icon of empowerment. More than gender emancipation, she exemplifies how the youth can spark important conversations on human rights, equality, and justice,” PLM President Emmanuel Leyco also said.
“It is our privilege and honor to call Ms. Hilao as one of our own and to name our GAD corner after her and the causes that she represents,” he added.
Lilli was an editor at Hasik, then the student publication. She also held various positions within the student government; organized the university’s Communication Arts Club; founded Alithea, an all-women club at PLM; and took part in the College Editors Guild of the Philippines as a student.
In April 1973, elements of the Philippine Constabulary’s Anti-Narcotics Unit knocked on the door of the Hilao family home and picked her up. According to her family, she received beatings from the armed men. She would not be seen by her relatives until she was returned dead –– her body mangled, tortured, and reportedly raped.
PLM Regent Wilma Galvante also recounted her own fond memories with Lilli, a classmate of hers whom she called a “true leader” for wielding her pen to fight for what is right. On their graduation day, she recalled wearing black bands with her batchmates in Lilli’s honor. She also received her posthumous degree and medal during the ceremony, with a seat set aside for her.