“We, the children of activists, were also part of the struggle.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – As a teenager whose father had been imprisoned during Martial Law, Sandra Nicole Roldan sought refuge in writing. Decades later, that journal has been transformed into a book.
Roldan’s At the School Gate was derived from her family’s history, the author said during the book launch, Oct. 17 at the UP Vargas Museum.
Her voice quivering, Roldan said, “It was my way of dealing with trauma.” “We, the children of activists, were also part of the struggle,” referring to the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.
Roldan dedicated the book to her nieces and nephews, saying there are many other stories of bravery in the face of dictatorship.
Luz B. Maranan’s Lakay Billy: Defender of Indigenous Peoples is among these stories of bravery. Maranan shares the heroism of William Claver, a lawyer who defended the Cordillera people during the dark years of Martial Law.
Maranan said she first met Claver in 1981. At that time, Maranan was an activist based in Tabuk, Kalinga. “The paramilitary group CHDF [Civilian Home Defense Forces] was after me,” Maranan recalled. “I was advised to go to Atty. Claver who was then already assisting activists and human rights defenders.”
The illustrators — Maranan’s daughter Duday Isabelle and Nina Martinez — both said the challenge was how to make the story with such a serious topic appealing to children.
Duday Isabelle, a mother of an eight-year-old-boy, said she wants the younger generation to know that there are real life heroes, not just the Western, fictional superheroes they know.
“As an artist, we have to mirror reality and that’s what Lakay Billy is all about,” she said.
Not only about the past
For Martinez, it’s not only important to retell the stories about Martial Law but to learn its reverberating effects.
A millennial who did experience first hand the horrors of Martial Law, Martinez noted that vilification of activists and terrorizing of their families continues to this day.
In the same vein, Maranan, also vice chairperson of Dap-ayan ti Kultura ti Kordilyera, said, “Democracy is under threat.”
She said she wrote the story to “remind our youth to stand up in challenging times.”
The books were launched a few days after the Marcoses filed their certificates of candidacy for key government positions. Imee Marcos is running for the Senate while Imelda Marcos will run for Ilocos Norte governor.