Born the eldest child to Atty. Reginaldo Arceo and Thelma Mirasol Arceo, Ferdinand “Ferdie” Arceo grew up having a simple and happy childhood. He grew up with a close relationship with his family and countless friends. Growing up, Ferdie was also seen as a talented and smart kid. Despite his comfortable and happy upbringing, Ferdie did not forget to give back to society. Even at a young age, Ferdie showed compassion other people. His mother even shared an instance wherein young Ferdie went out of his way to provide food to citizens devastated by a storm in 1971.
This compassion continued even until Ferdie entered college at the Ateneo de Manila University. In fact, he was even labeled as a “Man of the World” by his college peers. Ferdie, together with other students, founded the Liga ng Mga Demokratikong Atenista, which “aimed at raising the political consciousness of Ateneo students and other youths outside the campus by engaging them in discussion groups, and inviting them to teach ins and eventually, joining the “parliament of the streets,” demonstrations and protest marches.” During Ferdie’s last semester as a Humanities student at Ateneo, Martial Law was declared. Because of the situation in the country, classes were suspended, leaving them with nothing to do, or as what Ferdie’s mother said, “like sitting ducks.” He then decided to go to provinces to live with farmers. He believed that living with farmers would help him understand them, which would make him able to articulate for them.
Truly enough he was true to his word, “I want to live with the poor so I could understand them.” Though very challenging, he was able to eat like them, talk like them, live like them, be them. This is what he chose and living in Panay was indeed making him a “Man of the World.” Choosing to live and immerse oneself in this uncomfortable environment pushed him further to help broaden the movement and work towards the opposition of the martial law within the community. In this setting, he was able to educate himself about the masses thus allowing him to use this experience to fully express what they need and feel in a manner that could be more understandable and educated. At the same time, allowed him to have an avenue to share his knowledge and impart these on the deprived Filipinos.
Unfortunately, he was found dead on July 29, 1973 when Ferdie and his other activist were walking along the beach of San Joaquin, Iloilo after they have escaped from the military attack during their meeting. The military have killed them with continuous gun shots having thought of them as possible and harmful civilians included in the activist movement during the martial law. He was left with no identity for roughly 3 days, until a family friend recognized his body and informed his family regarding his passing.
Indeed, Ferdie Arceo is a nameless hero. With an age as early as 21 years old, he fought for what he believed in, immersed himself in uncomfortable environments all for the sake of the country. Believing in making a difference, he concretized his words of understanding and articulating for the people under poverty. With such courage, he was able to become an inspiration not only to his direct family members and colleagues, but even until today for present Filipinos.