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[IRL] LESSONS FROM AND ABOUT MARCOS MARTIAL LAW: No. 1 – MARCOS WAS NOT A HERO

By Menchu Aquino Sarmiento



We are at the half century milestone of events that took place between the First Quarter Storm and Marcos’ Declaration of Martial Law or Marcos Martial Law for short. The journalist Raissa Espinosa Robles who wrote MARCOS MARTIAL LAW: NEVER AGAIN, stressed how important it was to always make it clear that Marcos was responsible for Martial Law—he owned it. The history of the Marcos years casts long shadows that darken the present generation’s future. For example, there’s a straight line between Imelda R. Marcos’ Edifice Complex which camouflaged squatters and sacrificed dozens of workers in the collapse of the obscenely rushed Film Center and PRRD’s Build, Build, Build which has budgetary ascendancy over the needs of frontliners and the survival of ordinary Filipinos.


Because we must learn and never forget, the University of the Philippines is holding its “Day of Remembrance 2021.” Actually, that’s five days, or a week-long virtual commemoration from September 20 to 24, at 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The theme is “Dambana ng Gunita: Mga Batayang Katotohanan at Aral ng Batas Militar (The Altar of Memory: Truths and Lessons of Marcos Martial Law) exposes Marcos Martial Law-related disinformation and historical revisionism. As Imelda R. Marcos famously said in Lauren Greenfield’s much-awarded documentary The Kingmaker: “Perception is real, the truth is not.”


Each day’s webinar may be live-streamed in real time. The recordings are also on Facebook or on TVUP.ph and TVUP’s YouTube channel. In chronological order and with their registration links, these are:

Hindi Bayani si Marcos (Marcos Myth-Making and Deception): https://tinyurl.com/DOR21Day1

  • Hindi Mapayapa sa Panahon ng Batas Militar: https://tinyurl.com/DOR21Day2

  • Nilabag ang Karapatang Pantao: https://tinyurl.com/DOR21Day3

  • Walang Golden Age sa Ekonomiya: https://tinyurl.com/DOR21Day4

  • Nagnakaw mula sa Kaban ng Bayan: https://tinyurl.com/DOR21Day5



The most effective ways to teach are said to be either through threats and punishment, or through the aesthetic pleasures of artistry. UP has chosen the latter. Apart from the riveting archival photos, the webinar segments are interspersed with music and poetry, even a dementedly Imeldific diva. The lyrical invite, as best as I could transcribe it, follows:

Mapulang pagbati ang hatid sa lahat!

Tanggapin ang liyab ng suri’t pahayag.

Damahin ang pag-ibig, wagas na pagliyab,

Sa bayang ginahis, ginapos sa pag-hirap.

Pakinggan ang daing ng pusong bilanggo,

Ng kasinungalingang dinadaan sa biro.

Hawingan ang piring sa matang nanlabo

Sa tinang at kislap ng salapi at luho.

Ang araw na ito ay simula pa lamang

Nitong paggunita sa Batas na Militar

Isang linggong tingkad ng talakaya’t aral,

Upang mailantad ang katotohanan.

Ating babaliin mga mito’t kuwento

Ng mga bayaran at salamankero.

Ating hihimayin—di magiimbento,

Kaya’t tanging hiling, isip ay buksan ninyo.

At upang sindihan ang sulo sa dilim,

Na siyang tatanglaw sa ating landasin,

Ang puso’t palakpak agad natin pindutin,

Sa gayong ating makita sa ating mga screen.












Menchu Aquino Sarmiento is an award-winning writer and a social concerns advocate. IRL (In Real Life) are short verbal pagmumuni-muni, the essay equivalent of fast fiction--but in real life. She really wants more Filipinos to care, and to do something legal and non-violent about it, preferably together, so that we act more like a civilized country, a mature democracy.



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