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Deep In Memory: A Martial Law Recollection

Denise is a communication student, a poet and a book lover. She enjoys watching documentaries and film.

As the Spanish-born American philosopher, George Santayama wrote in his
1905 book, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” it is very important that we learn and remember the stories and accounts of the events that transpired during the Martial Law era in the country especially that fake news and misinformation have become rampant these days perpetuated by Marcos loyalists and apologists. The growing threat of history being revised to the interest of the Marcoses has become a great problem and a challenge not only for historians but as well as the actual victims of martial rule because this may lead to people forgetting about the atrocities and lies of the Marcoses. Eventually, as people forget, the justice the victims were all aiming for will become unattainable and worse, we’ll be repeating the same tragedies. Thus, I made this compilation of poems based on the stories and the accounts of the actual martial law victims to recollect and learn from them and to reflect why many are against the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to bury Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the late dictator, in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Recalling tragedies and traumatic experiences may be disturbing, but that’s what we are aiming for - to disturb the people and make them reflect on why we should be wary of things that may replicate the events that had happened in the past. For this purpose, I choose to compile poems that speak and retell the experiences of the martial law victims hoping that my fellow youth would remember their names, their stories and reflect on them.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines

Former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines

"Lilli"

She held a pen and wrote about the day,

Of the days that seemed ordinary yet in chaos,

Of the future that seemed serene, yet dark…

And of the miseries and the silent cries


Courage and the love for her beloved land,

She fought with her pen, talent to write

Made words into daggers and bows,

Bruising the tyrant’s ego


Held in captive, but did not bow down

Her head up high, honor upheld

Dreadful he was,

He ended her life


She told stories of the brave

And the atrocities of the cowardly

She, with a weak heart and frail body,

Feared the death of democracy, but not of her own


Thus, we will never forget!

"Remember"

“Are you part of them?!”

The man yelled at me

I denied the accusation.

“Are you part of them?!”

He shouted once more, this time in full rage

And I continue to deny his allegation

“You are part of them!”

He exclaimed, forcing me to indict myself

But I refuse to acknowledge his lie

And suddenly a current struck my body,

The rest is written in history.


The room, his voice and the pain was a nightmare,

A nightmare I will remember in my lifetime…


“It was a glorious period!”

Says the people who have forgotten,

Whose freedom owed from the resistance


“Bury him with the heroes!”

And then, I was shattered

Broke down in tears…


How convenient is it to forget,

Move on and live the second life I have?

How easy is it to turn a blind eye,

Prevent pain from coming back and live in comfort?

Easy for those who have not been in the dark,

For those who have not felt the unbearable pain,

Felt the trauma and the shock from being electrocuted.

To this day, the memory haunts me

As if forty years ago happened yesterday


I have never forgotten…

No, I will never forget!

And even if I can or will forget somehow,

I will try to remember, recall the pain

Relive the trauma, the horror in that room

For the agony of remembering

Will deny him, them, their redemption

He, them, will be remembered as traitors of our land


"Resist"

I did not join the rebellion,

Even spoke against them

Or stood against the injustices,

Afraid of what may come my way


I turned a blind eye,

Had my voice shut,

And I never questioned anything,

Convinced myself it was all necessary


But where am I now?

Where did my silence, my cowardice had taken me,

That I had lost my freedom?

And I had to experience such a horrible thing


Thought that turning a blind eye,

And staying silent would keep me safe,

Protect me from any atrocities

And would preserve the freedom I enjoy


But thy silence and tolerance did not keep me safe,

Worse, it had enabled more violence,

It had killed more, took away the liberty

Endangered everyone else’s lives


Do not be silenced, nor submit to his wills

For no one is safe from a greedy man

Not unless we fight back, together

We will all be in danger, defiant or not


A Memoir

There is a hint smell of cigar from the room,

Stale, warm and stuffy at the same time.

I could vividly remember the loud guffawing sounds of men,

And an eerie weeping of a woman as if a wailing person in her deathbed


I felt some heavy hand tapped my shoulder,

I didn’t move, pretended I was still unconscious

He tapped again, as if attempting to shake me up

Then I tried to act as if I have just woken from being knocked out


“You!,” a mighty voice seeming to refer to me

“Do you know why you’re here?,” he continued

I tried to response, but seems like my voice buried deep from exhaustion

“You answer me, rebel!” he angrily shouted


Rebel? I am not a rebel! - the words that won’t come out of my mouth,

I felt enormous pain as the man had blew a punch on me

“…not a rebel,” the only words they could probably hear

“Not a rebel!” the man chuckled and with few others


They won’t believe,

For they’ve known all along,

I am not a traitor of my country nor a conspirator

I am but a servant of my motherland!


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

— George Santayama

References

  • Ann, Janess. “Trining Herrera and her memories of the urban poor struggle under martial law.” Bulatlat, 21 September 2012, https://www.bulatlat.com/2012/09/21/trining-herrera-and-her-memories-of-the-urban-poor-struggle-under-martial-law/. Accessed 17 March 2022.
  • Grace, Miriam. “WATCH: Martial Law victim recalls torture by electrocution.” RAPPLER, 22 September 2016, https://r3.rappler.com/nation/146856-martial-law-victim-trinidad-herrera-repuno. Accessed 17 March 2022.
  • Hapal, Kevin. “Worse than death: Torture methods during martial law.” Rappler, 23 February 2016, https://www.rappler.com/nation/121365-torture-martial-law-marcos-regime/. Accessed 17 March 2022.
  • “HILAO, Liliosa R. – Bantayog ng mga Bayani.” Bantayog ng mga Bayani, 17 October 2015, https://www.bantayog.org/hilao-liliosa-r/. Accessed 17 March 2022.
  • “Jurisprudence on Martial Law Atrocities and Stories — UP College of Law.” UP College of Law, 21 September 2021, https://law.upd.edu.ph/philippine-jurisprudence-on-martial-law-atrocities-and-stories/. Accessed 17 March 2022.
  • Lacaba, Jose F. “Martial Law Stories: Torture — Positively Filipino | Online Magazine for Filipinos in the Diaspora.” Positively Filipino, 7 November 2018, http://www.positivelyfilipino.com/magazine/martial-law-stories-torture. Accessed 17 March 2022.
  • Pasion, Patty. “A Martial Law victim's story of healing.” Rappler, 21 September 2016, https://www.rappler.com/nation/146881-martial-law-hilda-narciso-human-rights/. Accessed 18 March 2022.
  • Rappler. “Healing the wounds of Martial Law.” YouTube, 21 September 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AVp9zEUYe0. Accessed 18 March 2022.
  • Rappler. “Martial Law victim survives torture by electrocution.” YouTube, 22 September 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU3mqmXuQ18. Accessed 18 March 2022.
  • Sison, Shakira. “#NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear.” Rappler, 23 September 2015, https://www.rappler.com/voices/imho/106827-martial-law-stories-hear/. Accessed 17 March 2022.