To remember the sacrifice of Antonio Abad Tormis in the name of press freedom, a marker was installed at the site of his 1961 murder.
But in July 2010, his son Antonio Jr. told Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) assistant executive director Cherry Ann Lim that the marker had disappeared.
CCPC executive director Pachico Seares thereafter sent Lim and Sun.Star Cebu assistant news editor Gingging Campaña on a mission to gather information on the marker.
Campaña called the Cultural and Historical Commission of Cebu City Hall, but it had no record of a marker built for Tormis. Neither did the Zoning Division, which keeps all records pertaining to markers, nor the City Council secretariat records section.
What the City Council secretariat had was an ordinance and resolution, passed on July 13, 1966, naming the road from P. Del Rosario Ext. passing Aznar Coliseum to the TB Pavilion after Tormis.
On Aug. 27, Lim, Campaña and representatives from the Cebu City Administrator’s Office set out to find the site of the marker.
They were guided by a news report that appeared in The Republic News the day after the killing and Supreme Court records of the case filed against the mastermind saying Tormis had been shot in his car parked in front of the Masonic Temple building on Borromeo St. after leaving the Esquire Barbershop beside the building’s stairway landing.
At the Masonic Hall Association Inc. building, the janitor-cum-messenger Simplicio Mendoza confirmed that the place now selling clothes beside the building’s stairway landing used to be a barbershop.
A man fixing watches outside the building said he was 13 in 1961. He pointed to a spot on the street where he said Tormis had been shot. It was directly outside the former barbershop. Vendors across the street said they had seen the “Abad Tormis” marker. One of them had carved designs on it as a child.
Mendoza, who arrived in the area in 1968, said the marker had been placed on the sidewalk in front of the building’s main door, but moved to an eye-level position on one of the pillars of the building near the street after the building’s renovation a few years ago.
The marker site was found, but the question remains: Where did the marker go?
Mendoza and the street vendors did not realize it was gone. The Masons did not have the marker removed; neither did the City Government. The architect who undertook the renovation did not touch the marker.
Following a request by the CCPC’s Seares, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and the Cebu City Council had a new marker installed in time for the celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week in September 2010. CTL/GAC
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