nown to many as “Tatay Francis”, Francis Morales, a principled people’s leader who was almost an ordained priest, was the tireless and diligent spokesperson of the environmental network Panalipdan Southern Mindanao. He was hands-on for tasks big and small, whether it was in the pickets barricading the offices of big mining companies or the military, or in a small forum running for the logistics, and always with a bright smile.
Tatay Francis became a prominent figure during the height of mass actions staged by the survivors of Typhoon Pablo under Barug Katawhan in 2013. Being the Executive Director of Bulig Alang sa Mindanao (BALSA Mindanao), he helped discuss the plight of the survivor’s group.
He articulated what the difference between a disaster victim and a disaster survivor is, noting there is resistance in surviving from both the adversities of disaster and climate change impact and the government neglect that made the suffering chronic and persistent.
Tatay Francis bravely defended the rights of Typhoon survivors amid media slanting and attacks from government institutions, due to the Barug Katawhan’s organized confiscation of hoarded relief goods in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) regional office warehouse. Threatened by then Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman with criminal charges for defending how the “hungry and angry” survivors were justified in the assertion, Tatay Francis retorted with an intense but calm “see you in court.”
He became part of Magsasaka Siyentipiko Para sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) where he became their advocacy officer (until 2006) before being part of its Board of Trustees. Applying his wide knowledge in sustainable agriculture, he initiated a Resilient Agriculture Program that benefitted the communities affected by Typhoon Pablo and Yolanda.
Until his last breath, Tatay Francis was knee-deep in serving the people. He served as the rock and foundation of the Daluyong Network of Disaster Survivors formed in 2014 at Tacloban City, an unprecedented gathering of typhoon survivors from all over the country.
Indeed, Tatay Francis has lived a simple but a well-meaning life devoted in defending the environment and serving the oppressed. He passed away in 2014 from a serious ailment he had been facing during his last few years, something he faced still with his trademark smile.