Lasallians immortalize voices of Filipino activism in 51st Martial Law anniversary commemoration

The USG, CoNIC, and LS4HRD launched initiatives calling for justice and accountability in commemoration of the 51st year since the declaration of Martial Law.

Calls for justice for the martyrs and heroes of Martial Law reverberated within the DLSU’s halls as students and administrators came together to observe the 51st declaration anniversary. 

A series of demonstrations and discussions took place from September 18 to 27 to remember the dark period of Philippine history and honor its countless victims. The University Student Government (USG) and DLSU Committee on National Issues and Concerns (CoNIC) collaborated for the week-long Boses ng Nakaraan, Buhay sa Kasalukuyan: Ika-51 Anibersaryo ng Batas Militar, while La Salle Students for Human Rights and Democracy (LS4HRD) launched Reclaiming the Narrative: 51 Years of Remembering Martial Law.

Hear their voices

The initiative by USG and CoNIC commenced with lectures and forum discussions that revisited Martial Law and highlighted the significance of the youth and their activism. A Martial Law exhibit was also unveiled, all at the sixth floor of the Henry Sy Sr. Hall.

Bantayog ng mga Bayani Executive Director May Rodriguez emphasized in the opening program the need for the country to battle poverty, corruption, ignorance, and despair to “stand proudly in the community of nations.”

Grace Garganta, a barista of Silingan Coffee—a coffee shop staffed by relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings—hoped that the youth would echo their stories from the brutality experienced under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Ayaw ko na matabunan at matakpan ‘yung kwento. Gusto ko makita namin na nandito kami. ‘Yung mga biktima patay, pero ‘yung kuwento buhay na buhay. Hanggang ngayon hindi siya pwede balewalain at makalimutan,” Garganta lamented. 

(I do not want the story to be lost or covered up. I want to show that we are still here, that even though the victims are dead, their stories are alive and will not be forgotten or ignored.)

Amplified calls

The USG also opened its office to Lasallians for a placard-making activity that ran from September 18 to 20. The placards were used in the series of campus protests on September 21, where chants like “Marcos panagutin, karapatan ilaban pa rin and “Never again to Martial Law” were thundered throughout the Manila campus by an estimated 40 Lasallians in black. 

(Hold Marcos accountable, continue to fight for our rights.)

Lasallians took this message to the streets in the same afternoon as they marched with other Taft-based schools to Liwasang Bonifacio, where various sectors organized a program to condemn injustices during the Martial Law regime and criticize President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s performance as head of state. 

Never forget, never again

Alalahanin ang Nakaraan, Pagnilayan ang Kasalukuyan, a three-day film festival, was held at the Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium from September 19 to 21 and featured films that tackled Martial Law and the culture of impunity that continues to this day. Respeto by Treb Monteras III, Delikado by Karl Malakunas, Never Forget by director Ida Del Mundo, and 11,109 Negros Special by Mike Alcarzen and Janette Ifurung were shown on the silver screen. Each showing was followed by a talkback session led by professors from the Department of Literature and the Department of Communication.

Heroes and victims during Martial Law were also honored throughout the week-long commemoration.

LS4HRD and other Lasallians convened along Taft Ave. fronting the St. La Salle Hall for a candle-lighting event, which included speeches from several student leaders, on September 20. This resumed even as the preceding program was cut short by the Manila Police District, who urged the group to transfer to a freedom park after explaining that a permit is needed to rally outside the University. 

USG and CoNIC also led a prayer vigil on September 21 in front of the St. La Salle Hall, the facade of which was adorned by banners calling for justice and lit up with the colors of the Philippine flag. USG President Alex Brotonel, Student Media Council Chairperson Krizzia Garcia, Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon President Manolo Enriquez, and Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista President Denise Cebrero all highlighted the role of the youth in preserving the lessons taught by the Marcos dictatorship.

Kapihan ng Malalayang Lasalyano: Kwentuhang Paghahanda at Pakikilahok sa Barangay and SK Elections was also held last September 27 featuring performances by groups under the Culture and Arts Office and a panel discussion with election experts. Through insights and analyses on the current landscape of the upcoming Barangay and SK Elections, the talk aimed to instill the importance of local governments as a crucial step for national governance. 

Meanwhile, USG and CoNIC events Remembering a Decade of Recovery: Honoring the 10th Anniversary of Yolanda, a panel discussion on climate justice, and Creatives for a Cause: The Smokey Mountain Lighthouse Classroom Project, a benefit event, were both postponed due to high levels of smog in Manila.

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