He was my professor. I was not close to him but I remember his class dearly for initiating me to the hardships of discourse making and critical thinking. Out of frustration, I was inspired to compose a marching song about him called “Mabuhay si Monico Atienza”. He gave the most challenging term paper assignments. He told me once that I was lucky he didn’t give me a “5” (the failing grade in UP). He told me to come up with my own data when I tried to refute the findings of a leftist research agency. In an era before Snowden, he told the class he didn’t use Windows on his computer because he is afraid it might get hacked. How satisfied he must be to know he was right all along. I heard somewhere that he corresponds regularly with Joma Sison. The last time I saw him was when he walked out early from a stage play with a smirk on his face. He once told the story of meeting Chairman Mao in person, and it was from him I heard the quotation “Women hold up half the sky”. When he fell into a long coma, his comrades took care of him. I saw them on TV singing revolutionary songs while he was bed-ridden breathing heavily on an oxygen mask, his already wiry frame became more emaciated. Then he passed away on my birthday in 2007.
I remember him now when his photo came up on my facebook feed. A friend told me that whenever he hears the words Martial Law, he recalls the bullet wound on Professor Monico Atienza’s bald head. He told everyone that he got it from being tortured and ambushed by the military during his time in the underground.