For Veterans of FQS, Activism Is in Their Hearts


MANILA — “Watching Sigwa reminds people of what the youth did during the First Quarter Storm (FQS) of the 1970s to contribute to the liberation of the Filipino people from the Marcos dictatorship,” said Francisco Blanco, a former youth activist during martial law.

Three activists during martial law shared their reaction and stories of struggle in an interview with Bulatlat during the Cinemalaya screening of Sigwa written by Bonifacio Ilagan and directed by Joel Lamangan.

Blanco, now barangay chairman of 6th District of Sta. Mesa, said Sigwa depicted exactly how the political awakening during that time changed the path of the youth and students during the 1970s. This political awakening, Blanco said, was brought about not just by the fascist dictatorship but by extreme poverty as well. Blanco said poverty was one of the reasons why he sought out and joined organizations of activists then.

“Professors also played a role in raising the awareness of students by introducing progressive theories, which students applied in social practice,” said Blanco, pointing out the role of actor Tony Mabesa in the movie.

Ed Tablan, vice president of the FQS Movement, related that when he was a student at the Philippine College of Chambers, he frequently joined rallies and teach-ins that tackled the problems plaguing Philippine society. They also went to urban poor communities to organize out- of-school youth.

Albert Aguilar of FQSM said the showing of Sigwa is timely because of the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of FQS. He said the story captured the life and struggles of young activists from the 1970s up to the present. “The story shows exactly what happened during the time of martial law and also in the present. Many FQS activists continue with the struggle, some of them are like Cita (played by Zsa Zsa Padilla) who joined the armed struggle and some are in national democratic struggle like Rading (played by Jim Pebangco). Some of them ended their involvement in the movement due to different reasons like Azon (played by Gina Alajar). And there are some who betrayed the movement and went on a 180-degree turn and worked with the Philippine government like Oliver (played by Tirso Cruz III).”

They also said they felt proud that a movie like Sigwa that was based on a true story was produced. Not only because it portrayed how the young activists of the 1970s bravely opposed martial law. It also chronicled the steadfastness and dedication of these young activists who continued with the struggle. “The movie also showed that members of the FQS are still continuing with the struggle because the truth is that nothing much has changed from the martial law years up to the present government,” said Blanco.

The movie highlighted the veterans of FQS like Judy Taguiwalo who became a member of the Board of Regents in the University of the Philippines, Carol Araullo who is the chairwoman of Bayan and Satur Ocampo who became the representative of Bayan Muna in the House of Representatives. Some ended up as businessmen or public servants like Blanco who said that even if he is now a barangay chairman he still joins rallies and also supports activists.

“The movie is generally faithful to the spirit of the FQS 1970 and the changes in the lives and commitment of the various activists 40 years after the storm. But the best thing for me last night was the presence of young activists in the audience who could relate to the messages of the film: the true activist would remain an activist for the rest of his life, changes in Philippine society have been superficial so far, poverty and rottenness remain, and love and betrayal in the midst of the struggle do happen,” Taguiwalo said.

True enough, three veterans of the FQS said their commitment to the struggle is in their hearts and never did they entertain the thought of leaving the struggle.

“Until farmers own the land they till, workers be given a P125 across-the-board wage increase, jobs would be made available for the unemployed and poverty is eradicated, there is no reason to stop pursuing the struggle,” Tablan said. (

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  1. Google Unholy Allied Mountains or and check a novel that was also borne out of the FQS.

  2. True Indeed! Once an activist, always an activist. He just mellows, becomes more pragmatic, less radical; but the passion,love of country and care for the poor and the oppressed sector of the society remain uncompromisingly solid.

    Be it in our country or in another land.

    I was once a part of a small group in the campus of Diliman, doing our own share of sacrifices for the sake of academic freedom and emancipation from the tyranny, corruption, and the gradual decline of the country, from one of the leading economies in Asia, towards economic stagnation, brought about by the insatiable greed of the ruling apathetic oligarchy during that time.Issues that remained unresolved sadly, until this present generation.

    Now in my senior years, and living in another man’s land, I and some other guys like me, continue to strive and remain committed to help our countrymen, like the modern heroes of our times, who for some reasons or another are saddled with problems that needed some assistance – financial or otherwise.

    Yes,an activist will forever be an activist…

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