Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 32 September 15 - 21, 2002 Quezon City, Philippines
Illustrious Filipinos Fell Then - And Still Fall Now
Marcos, the man who brought martial law upon this land, was ousted by the people in 1986. But the ghosts of martial law continue to haunt us. They continue to claim the lives of the best of the Filipino youth, who are still, as they were thirty years ago, enraged by the morass wrought upon this land by the local elite and their foreign masters.
Alexander Martin Remollino
Rizal, in one of his poems, described the youth as the "fair hope" of
the nation. It was the young men and women to whom Emilio Jacinto addressed his
manifesto calling for a fight for freedom.
of the young men and women of their time took them seriously. In great numbers
they pulled themselves out of the frivolous concerns that normally preoccupy the
young and poured their brains and brawn into a valiant struggle for freedom. It
would be decades before the young would again take them seriously in large
year was 1972. Things had come to a head in the Philippines. For the past few
years the Philippines had been reeling from the effects of neocolonial
domination, the subservience of foreign policy, feudal exploitation, and
bureaucratic corruption. Because of this the seeds of revolution were spreading
throughout the land. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, then President, responded to the
demands of the people - not by beginning to do away with the cancers of society
- but by suppressing their right to demand the construction of a better society.
He declared martial law on September 21 of that year. And martial law haunted
the land for nearly twenty years.
was among the worst chapters in our history. With swords hanging over their
heads and guns pointed at their heads the people were being driven around in a
way that not even the lowest beasts of burden have ever been driven around. And
anyone who dared to resist risked losing her or his life, or being caged and
tortured - or raped.
if martial law was among the worst chapters in our history, it was also one of
those that brought out the best in the Filipino youth. All of a sudden the
Filipino youth were no longer as obsessed with movie stars and fashion and
parties as they had often been. All of a sudden they found themselves jumping
out of a life of frivolity and apathy to pursue something bigger than
history of the martial law era is replete with the names of brilliant and
talented young Filipinos who lost their lives in the thick of the struggle for
freedom from tyranny and injustice.
Lacaba was one of them. A poet, playwright, scriptwriter, short story writer,
and essayist, he had more than promised to be the greatest writer of his
generation. He was at the top of his class from first grade until he finished
high school. At the Ateneo de Manila University, he was a full scholar until he
completed his course. He was a trade unionist at the time martial law was
declared - in fact, just two months before the declaration of martial law, he
had faced threats and truncheons together with picketing workers at a small
factory in Pasig. He went down to Mindanao in 1975 to cast his lot with the
armed struggle. It was as a "people's warrior", as he called himself
in one of his poems, that he lost his life in Mindanao in 1976.
Barros was another one. A poet and essayist, she was also a writer of great
promise. She was a consistent honor student in grade school and high school, and
from the University of the Philippines (UP) she graduated cum laude. From being
a student activist in the mid-1960s, she later founded the feminist group
Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (Patriotic Movement of the New Women).
the Constabulary, upon orders from Malacaņang, tried to take over the UP campus
shortly after the declaration of martial law, Laurie was one of numerous young
men and women who stood their ground and fought it out with the Constabulary.
She later went to Quezon to join the armed struggle. In an encounter with the
military, she sustained several wounds and bled to death while in the custody of
another was Liliosa Hilao. Aside from being editor-in-chief of the school paper
of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila), she
was one of the best students it ever had, having been a candidate for summa cum
laude. A member of the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth) and the College
Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), she had been participating in protest
actions and writing editorials and articles against the Marcos regime. She was
one of the first to be arrested upon the declaration of martial law. She died in
prison after being abused by her military captors.
Jopson was yet another one. Born into an upper-class family, he was an unlikely
activist and revolutionary. He was a consistent honor student from the time he
began his education until his graduation from the Ateneo de Manila University.
In the late 1960s, he headed the National Union of Students of the Philippines,
then a moderate group. In 1970, he was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young
Men of the Philippines.
during martial law, became a labor organizer and, still later, a high-ranking
official of the underground revolutionary movement in Mindanao. Detention and
torture did not stop him from pursuing the struggle. In 1982, he was wounded in
a military raid. He bled to death.
years have passed since the declaration of martial law. The Filipino people have
staged two historic actions affirming their desire for democracy. But the stage
is still the same stage that martial law entered. Neocolonialism still rules the
economy and our foreign policy. Feudal exploitation and bureaucratic corruption
still plague the people. These ills of society continue to breed unrest among
the people. Because of this, the establishment continues to resort to fascist
designs with the objective of preserving the status quo.
course, there has been no formal declaration of martial law under the Macapagal-Arroyo
regime, but the right of the people to demand the construction of a truly free
and just society is still being trampled upon. But there are still young people
in the mold of Emman Lacaba, Laurie Barros, Liliosa Hilao and Edgar Jopson who
dare to struggle against oppression. Two of them fell recently. One of them was
Gypsy Zabala. She was a student leader at the Far Eastern University. Last
March, she was in Antipolo City, doing mass work among the peasants there. It
was there where she lost her life in an ambush by the military.
than a month later, the newspapers would yell with stories of the grisly murder
of Beng Hernandez. Beng was a leader of the Karapatan (Alliance for the
Advancement of People's Rights) and vice-president of CEGP in Mindanao. A
student writer at the Ateneo de Davao University, she had been asked by a group
of writers to submit some of her poems to be used in a workshop. One of her
professors had said she was one of Davao City's most promising writers.
was heading a fact-finding mission that was researching on the condition of the
peasants of Sitio Bukatol in the Arakan Valley in Cotabato, aside from following
up on the research she had initiated a year back on the Tababa Massacre. She was
preparing to have lunch in a hut with some peasant companions when a
paramilitary unit started firing at the hut. She tried to escape but was caught.
Her corpse was later found with bruises and bullet wounds on her body and her
Marcos, the man who brought martial law upon this land, was ousted by the people in 1986. But the ghosts of martial law continue to haunt us. They continue to claim the lives of the best of the Filipino youth, who are still, as they were thirty years ago, enraged by the morass wrought upon this land by the local elite and their foreign masters. Bulatlat.com