By Margaret Rose Dominado
For most of us, the fortieth anniversary of Martial Law has been bittersweet personally and politically.
On one hand, there was this bitter isolation of political detainees, the painful sufferings of tortured bodies, the endless grief for a fallen comrade, and an incurable heartache for the long years of missing a loved one.
On the other, the solidarity of comrades and the warm support of the Filipino masses would always sweeten the harshness of our difficulties as we continue to serve the people.
I was barely 13 years old when Martial Law was declared. In my young mind then, I never understood its full implications in my life.
My memory would always linger to this certain sense of oppressive silence and tension around the neighborhood.
Curfew was imposed. The family’s elders held novenas and rosaryos every evening.
Family members talked in whispers with unshed tears. I overheard stories of house raids, arrests, detentions, tortures, and disappearances of relatives and friends.
There was a sense of powerlessness and fear and confusion. There was this prevailing atmosphere of quiet despair and unexpressed indignation.
I recalled the pressure of forced conformity in my school. There were things better left unsaid. That was forty years ago.
Yet, beneath this state of martial law that was masked by the Marcos’ “new society”, there was a fermented struggle for national democracy.
A growing and consolidated movement that was hidden but not entirely invisible to the Filipino people because this was the reflection of their desire to break the chains of oppression and repression and to achieve a genuinely new and better future for their children.
The flames of resistance and perseverance kept on for half a century, even after the formal end of Martial Law, without any guarantee of a sure victory.
Yes, we did not know the exact outcome of the struggle but we did—and do—know the outcome if we choose not to struggle. And so, in solidarity with other comrades, we keep on believing……struggling. …..hoping……until we shall overcome!
The 40th anniversary of Martial Law is a day of remembering a point in Philippine history when our comrades made immense sacrifices, including laying down their lives, so we could attain freedom and justice.
The Filipino people should never forget that the victory won during the EDSA revolution of February 1986 (otherwise known as the People’s Power ) was not without the seeds of resistance planted by our comrades.
We must never leave their stories buried in unknown archives. Such examples of heroism and patriotism should be taught to the next generation and their stories retold to our children and our children’s children.
And as we sing the last and final stanza of our National Anthem, “Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo” (Our lives we gladly offer against tyranny), we shall salute our comrades for they lived and died exemplifying the voice and anthem of the Filipino people.
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