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Remembering Willem

This is a sidebar story to this news report published on Saturday.

Last Friday’s march to the Philippine Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands brought Willem Geertman’s fellow NGO workers to tears – of hate and sadness.

They fondly remembered the environmentalist and activist as kind, welcoming and crazy about the Philippines. Maitet Ledesma of IBON Europe burst to tears during the meeting with Philippine Ambassador Lourdes Morales. She still cannot believe that someone can think of murdering Geertman. Grace Punongbayan of Migrante Europe also clearly remembered her encounters with Geertman during his regular visits to The Netherlands which Geertman was supposed to do again in two weeks’ time if he was not murdered.

Geertman has lived more than four decades in the Philippines, fluent in Tagalog and calls the country his home. Theo Droog of the Nederlands-Filipijnse Solidariteitsbeweging (Dutch-Filipino Solidarity group) fondly remembered him as a good man.

“He is a good man, dedicated to work with people and uplift their lives. He is very social, he loves working with people and improve their lives even just a little bit,” Droog added.

Geertman started living in The Philippines in the 1970s. He first stayed in Baler, Aurora as a missionary volunteer. Known for his environmental causes and his stand on the plight of farmers working for estates such as the Hacienda Luisita, his family, friends and comrades believe that the least that can be done is to find and punish the guilty.

Geertman will be interred today in his adopted hometown of Aurora province in The Philippines. A commemoration mass will be held for Geertman this coming Sunday in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.#

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