Gold in People
Elmer Nev C. Valenzuela
Canon EOS 1200D
Amalia Alcantara is the epitome of “so others may live.”
“Ate Bebang” to many, Ms. Alcantara is a human rights activist, urban poor organizer, and leader to Nagkakaisang Residente ng Pook Malinis — a depressed community on the skirts of UP Diliman. Troubled by an impending demolition, pandemic crisis, politics and police issues.
Since the coronavirus lockdown of 2020, Ate Bebang has bore the brunt of her hungry neighborhood; established a feeding program and has been hauling in relief assistance from just about everyone (even from media personalities such as Jacque Manabat and Atom Araullo).
Ate Bebang grew up on the rough streets of Quezon City. Went in and out of foster care, and later on got hooked on different gangs.
In 2003, she found herself in the company of UP students where she gained educational development via “Iskong Kababaihan.” And so her empowerment begins.
An erstwhile barangay official, Ate Bebang’s stand on other pandemic-aggravated issues goes on: calls for assistance to the poor, demand for a stop to demolition of houses in Pook Malinis, and an end to police and military intrusions in their community. All a must-win situation.
“A nice and bighearted person, Ate Bebang takes stand against abuses.” – Benita Parandas, a Pook Malinis resident attests.
Ate Bebang devoted her energy to her constituents even to the point of risking her health. Recently, she suffered what was diagnosed as Ocular Myasthenia Gravis, impairing her right eye and requiring a long list of medical tests.
Undeterred, Ate Bebang goes on with her unbending moral duty in standing up for the community, for their rights, health, and for justice.
Amalia Alcantara is a mother, wife, and “ate.” Her acts are unpaid services for society’s strapped and powerless. Hers is a story of a woman who is able to lead, take pains, and fight against social issues worsened by a pandemic and the prevailing dark political scene.