On the 21st of September 1972, the Philippines was placed under Martial Law, giving the military free reign over civilians and the dictator Ferdinand Marcos more power than ever before. Rightfully dubbed as the most horrifying time for the country, thousands were wrongfully imprisoned, kidnapped, tortured, and even killed all for practicing their inherent human right to dissent and overall right to freedom of speech.
Miriam College Committee on Engaged Citizenship together with the Departments of International Studies and Social Sciences organized another Martial Law Forum “ PAGLABAG SA KARAPATANG PANTAO SA PANAHON NG REHIMENG MARCOS”. Students and faculty were graced with the presence of historian, scholar, and TV personality, Professor Xiao Chua, to shed light on the many human rights violations committed by the Marcos Administration from 1972 to 1981 at Henry Sy Innovation Center and via zoom platform on October 18, 2022.
Prof. Chua shared the stories of the many brave historians, activists, and journalists who were tortured and lost their lives. Through a chilling series of documents, pictures, as well as audio and video recordings, the historian shared the firsthand accounts of numerous victims and survivors of the Marcos regime for the audience to fully grasp the gravity of the situation and make known what the Marcoses tried to silence and disregard. Their courageous fight to express their dissent and defend the country against tyranny emphasizes the value of documentation and sharing credible information and the actual truth. Professor Xiao Chua ends his speech by saying, “We are not against the government, we do not want to bring it down. But it is very important na maiparating ang hinain natin sa pamahalaan. Dahil ang ating puna sa pamahalaan ay ang ating pagmamahal sa bayan para mas maging maganda ang ating lipunan. So don’t redtag us.”
It is recorded that there are over 11,000 victims of human rights violations during Martial Law, but what more on those that were not recorded? How many lives were lost and we didn't even know it? How much spilt blood did the Marcos regime get away with? How many were silenced before we even got to hear them speak? Though the many stories we know of Martial Law victims and survivors are already quite overwhelming, there is much to be said about the lives of those we never knew we lost. And while we may never learn about the many untold stories nor know the actual number of those affected by Martial Law, we have control over what we do with the stories that have been recorded… We must #NeverForget to make sure it never ever happens again.
By: Carey Steele, 4th year BA International Studies student