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COMMENTARY

What the youth should know about martial law

05:05 AM October 02, 2018

In the face of what Imee Marcos says about moving on and forgetting the past when the country was placed under martial law by her father, and considering how Bongbong talks as if his father, Ferdinand Marcos, was a benevolent dictator, I want to have my day in court and speak out.

I was a professor in UP when martial law was declared. I was there during the Diliman Commune when the brave students defied Marcos. I was there when the police/military broke into the campus and picked up many students, like the son of Flora Lansang. Many of those picked up were imprisoned and tortured, and some were never seen again.

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Ateneo activists were not spared. Even women were not spared, like Liliosa Hilao who was tortured and raped and was killed via muriatic acid poisoning. Jessica Sales, another activist, just disappeared — one of the multitudes of desaparecidos whose bodies were buried in some unknown grave.

Let us not forget Lean Alejandro, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Likewise, who killed Ka Lando Olalia, labor leader, who was abducted and killed and his mouth stuffed with newspapers? Who killed Dr. Juan Escandor in Bicol? He must have suffered so much. They broke his skull, scooped out his brains and stuffed his skull with his jockey shorts. What kind of people would be so brutal as to deny their prisoners a dignified death? Then there was Dr. Bobby dela Paz, shot in his clinic in Samar, just because he was serving the poor.

Those who were killed and disappeared are legion. Our young people today should revisit history and learn that, once upon a time in the not-so-distant past, the young were willing to suffer and die for their country. As our anthem says, “Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.”

Visit Bantayog ng mga Bayani and see the names and stories of those who died or disappeared during the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship, which was by no means a “benevolent dictatorship” as Bongbong Marcos seems to suggest.

But the Filipino people were not silenced by military rule. Soon, many organizations were born to resist the dictatorship. There was the Free Legal Assistance Group, to represent those arrested and harassed, and the radical Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Students of St. Theresa organized Teresang Makabayan, St. Scholastica had Kulasa. There was SAMAKANA, ABAKADA, JAJA (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All). Nelia Sancho formed her own organization.

Middle-class women formed the Concerned Women of the Philippines. The militant organization WOMB (Women for the ouster of Marcos and Boycott) was headed by the beautiful Maita Gomez, a former beauty queen. WOMB participated in many rallies; Odette Alcantara was our chief negotiator during those rallies. She was in charge of propaganda, and wrote a popular satirical column called “Los Enemigos.”

Much has yet to be written about this era, so that the youth of today may draw inspiration from their predecessors who resisted the Marcos dictatorship. Yet, Imee Marcos says we should move on, meaning we should forget the past. Never! Who was it who said that one who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it?

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Helen N. Mendoza, a retired professor of English and Comparative Literature in UP Diliman with an MA in English Literature from Stanford University and PhD in American Literature from the University of Minnesota, is the author of two books.

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TAGS: Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Bobby dela Paz, Diliman Commune, Ferdinand Marcos, Helen N. Mendoza, Inquirer Commentary, Jessica Sales, Juan Escandor, Lean Alejandro Lando Olalia, Lilios Hilao, Marcos martial law, Political prisoners
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