Films depicting Martial Law horrors can help fight disinformation

Photo from Cinemata


MANILA – As a pushback against the massive disinformation campaign, independent thinktank Ibon Foundation and the Concerned Artist of the Philippines (CAP) held a film screening of two movies on September 10 that tackle the horrors of the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“This is very important, especially with the sentiment that goes, ‘if it is not on video, it did not happen.’ Our enemies are at the forefront of historical distortion, and the Marcoses themselves have their own chest of footage,” Ibon Foundation executive director Sonny Africa said.

The screening featured AsiaVisions AV Collection films titled “Arrogance of Power” (1983) and “Beyond the Walls of Prison” (1987) which depict the brutality Filipinos suffered under Martial Law. It was held at the Cine Adarna, University of the Philippines Film Institute in Diliman, Quezon City.

Africa said that these films can be used to educate the people to combat disinformation campaigns on the Marcos Sr. dictatorship. “(These films) are a big chunk of our collective memory as a people of what happened during the Marcos era and these we have to preserve.”

Films as mirrors of the past

The activity organizers said that the two films show human rights violations in the countryside, violent dispersal of protest actions, and rampant anti-poor policies that they also witnessed.

In Arrogance of Power, the film featured the role of the US government in supporting the Marcos administration’s anti-insurgency program which intensified the attacks against indigenous peoples in the guise of aid during the 1970s. This led to massive cases of human rights violations like harassment, intimidation, arrests and killings.

During the Martial Law period, human rights groups said that there were 70,000 detainees, 34,000 torture victims, 3,420 salvaging cases and 398 disappearances.

The second film Beyond the Walls of Prison, on the other hand, featured a young Ron de Vera in several cameos about his mother and then political detainee Adora Faye whose story of rape and sexual abuse while in the hands of the military served as one of the cases filed during the class suit against Marcos in Hawaii.

Last month, Adora Faye was arrested again, this time accused of multiple murder.

Read: Arrested activist is a torture survivor under Marcos Sr. dictatorship

The film also depicted the harrowing experiences of Filipinos in the countryside who became targets of human rights violations. Their communities were militarized and the promises of land reform were unfulfilled.

Preservation and digitalization of documents

Africa said that the films can shed light on the dark years of the country’s recent history which some social media influencers attempt to rebrand as a paradise for the Filipino people. He added that the almost half a century of footage and documents are also being forgotten.

They need to be preserved and digitized before the files get corrupted from old age and the playback system gets completely obsolete, Africa stressed. He said that they are working to preserve other files and films with other concerned groups. (JJE, DAA)  (

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