Latest Stories

Inquirer Visayas

Dexter Condez: A voice of courage for Ati folk


ATI TRIBE spokesperson Dexter Condez is photographed working at the land in Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Boracay Island, days after the Ati occupied the property in April 2012. Less than a year later, Condez was gunned down. SONNY ESTOLLOSO/CONTRIBUTOR

BORACAY ISLAND—Dexter Condez had learned to fight for his rights at a young age.

When he was in Grade 4, he stopped going to school because he was teased and bullied by his classmates for being an Ati. Articulate and passionate, he believed that a person’s worth is not measured by the color of the skin.

On Feb. 22, a lone gunman claimed the life of the young man who had been on the front line in the Ati people’s fight to occupy and own a 2.1-hectare property in Barangay Manoc-Manoc on Boracay Island, which they believe is part of their ancestral domain.

Condez, 26, was shot eight times—one bullet pierced his heart—while he was on his way to the Ati community in Manoc-Manoc.


Hotel guard

Police tagged a security guard of a hotel chain in Boracay as suspect. A murder complaint was eventually filed against the guard, Daniel Celestino, of Crown Regency Boracay Resorts in the Aklan provincial prosecutor’s office in the capital town of Kalibo.

Teddy Jimenez, resident manager of the Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, confirmed that Celestino was assigned to the hotel but that the company had nothing to do with the crime.

The Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center is one of three hotels being operated by Cebu-based J. King and Sons Co. Inc., which is among at least three property claimants opposing the Ati occupation of the Manoc-Manoc lot since last year.

Before his death, Condez was spokesperson of Boracay Ati Tribal Organization    and worked closely with the Holy Rosary Parish Ati Mission (HRPAM), which was put up by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in 2000 to help the Ati people acquire a permanent residential land in Boracay.

Meeting with nuns

Condez had just attended a meeting of tribe leaders and nuns shortly before he was killed. They discussed activities and projects and updates on pending cases related to the certificate of ancestral domain title granted by the government in Manoc-Manoc.

Benjamin Abadiano, president of  Assisi Development Foundation Inc., said Condez was in charge of the group’s social entrepreneurship program and was helping draft a curriculum for an education program for the community.

“His death is such a loss,” he said.

The second of four siblings, Condez was born in Barangay Cubay in Malay town in Aklan. His mother, Madeline, was an Ati.

His parents separated and his mother remarried. When he was 6 years old, he  was adopted by his aunt, Evelyn Supetran.

In Grade 4, Condez dropped out of Balabag Elementary School in Boracay because his classmates teased and bullied him for being an Ati. He was, however, accelerated to Grade 6 after taking a qualifying examination but transferred to Dueñas town in Iloilo, the hometown of his father, Edgar, because he didn’t get along with his grandfather.

He finished his elementary and part of his high school education in Dueñas. He graduated from high school at Colegio de San Jose in Iloilo City.

Back to Boracay

Condez enrolled in the same college for a year in a secondary education course, but he again dropped out due to a personal problem and went back to Boracay where he worked in a mini grocery.

He volunteered for  the Ati mission in 2010 and became the tribe’s spokesperson shortly after.

“Dexter wanted to be a lawyer because he saw the need for our tribe to be represented in legal issues and cases,” said Luna, a close friend of Condez, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns.

She said Condez helped her with her personal problems and community work and other tasks delegated by the nuns. Condez remained down-to-earth and simple despite his position in the tribe.

Luna said her friend always prodded tribe members to remain firm amid difficulties and uncertainties. “Don’t lose hope,” he would always tell them.

Sr. Hermie Sutares, HRPAM program coordinator, said Condez also wanted to take up journalism or anthropology to help the tribe. He excelled in the arts even if he had dropped out of school, she said.

Program coordinator

“He was naturally intelligent and could easily grasp and explain things and concepts,” Sutares said.

Condez also mastered declamation. He directed the community plays and the Ati choir, which sings during Sunday Mass at the Boracay parish church.

“We were developing him to take over as program coordinator because we will not be here forever. I was confident in delegating tasks and responsibilities to him,” Sutares said.

Those who had worked with or were close to Condez described him as “cheerful and lively.”

“He enlivens our training workshops because of his creative ideas,” Abadiano said.

“He also served as a link between the elder tribe members and the younger generation which may be the reason they made sure he was dead,” he said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Ancestral Land , Ati , Boracay Island , Human rights , Indigenous people , Killing

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Ex-PBA player Bryan Gahol dies in road mishap


  • Napoles tags over 100 officials in pork scam – Lacson
  • Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  • Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • Sports

  • San Mig Coffee grinds out win over Alaska to force decider
  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Marketplace