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2 years later: Remembering Keith, Nolven Absalon

By Ernesto Delgado

MASBATE CITY --- Maybe you’ve watched the television news and livestreamed press conferences. Perhaps you’ve read the newspapers.

But before cyclists launched the Bike for Peace across the nation, and before the Keith Absalon Cup was inaugurated here, there were Keith Absalon, former UAAP football juniors most valuable player, and his cousin Nolven, a leader of the labor union in Masbate’s electric company.

The pair perished two years ago Tuesday (June 6) morning, when an improvised explosive device was detonated along the road in their hometown of Masbate City while biking with their family.

The “next big name in Philippine football,” then Senator Francis

Pangilinan called Keith in an interview with the Inquirer later that day.

Last Monday, family, state security officers, football fans and community members celebrated the lives of the Absalon cousins.

Not fewer than 500 people massed in front of the Magallanes Coliseum in Masbate City and lighted candles in tribute to Keith and Nolven.

Messages of solidarity in the pursuit of justice for them and peace for Masbate were also expressed through speeches and placards that were brandished by students.

Family members and friends were overcome with emotion as they reflected on the impact of Nolven and Keith’s violent and senseless demise.

Like Pangilinan, Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason was struggling to accepting the loss of two of Masbate City’s pride.

So he warned the young crowd to stay away from the alleged “deceptive recruitment” of the communist New People’s Army.

“The NPA won’t do you any good,” Tuason said.

Two days before the candlelight memorial, members of the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict laid wreath at the memorial statue of Keith at the Masbate Centennial Athletic Grounds in Masbate City.

Also in attendance in the wreath-laying ceremony were not fewer than 200 football players from different schools in the province.

The student-athletes saw action in the “Keith Absalon 7V7 Friendly Cup” that unfolded after the ceremony.

At the time tragedy struck the 21-year-old midfielder, accolades were already attached to his name at such a young age.

Reacting to the news of Keith’s death, then Senator Richard Gordon said Keith could have been a regular member of the Philippine Azkals.

Of course, the story didn’t end there. Here’s a timeline of the next weeks, months and years after Keith and Nolven’s tragic deaths:

June 8, 2021: The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed unit New People’s Army issued a joint statement taking full responsibility for their members’ mistake when they detonated a land mine that killed the Absalon cousins.

July 17, 2021: The nationwide “Bike for Peace and Justice” campaign was held. The event called for justice for the death of the Absalon cousins. The campaign also called for peace and justice for all victims of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

June 6, 2022: A life-size statue of Keith Absalon was unveiled in Masbate City to mark the first anniversary of his death. The monument to Keith was installed near the entrance to the Masbate Provincial Athletic Grounds. (PIA5)


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