DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 September) — On September 21, 2001, exactly 30 years after then President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos issued the Proclamation that changed everyone’s lives, MindaNews launched “Turning Rage into Courage: Mindanao under martial law,” a book of essays written by Mindanawons from different generations, on their experiences under martial law. The book also included poems and songs of the period.
This year, on the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, we asked several Mindanawons to answer six questions to help us tell the story of Mindanao and the Mindanawons under martial law. Here are their answers.
NIKKI ORZALES-YU, 55
Registered nurse based in Texas, USA
from Madrid, Surigao del Sur
1.Where were you when Martial Law was declared in 1972?
I was in our 2nd year high school classroom.
2. What were you doing then?
I was in our math class.
3.From whom did you learn that Martial law had been declared?
I learned it from our math teacher and she said that President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial law which means we are in a military rule, that there is no freedom of the press, that anyone who will say anything against the government will be imprisoned. It scared me so much!
4.What was the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
Going out at night during curfew hours after 12 midnight while there was military presence in our town of Madrid, Surigao del Sur. During the first year of martial law, I was a contestant in an oration contest in high school. The title of my piece was “Freedom of the Press” and I was lucky to win the first prize.
5.What was the funniest thing you did under Martial law?
It was not really that funny! but I tried to ask my strict old folks if I can have a party at home with my classmates in a dim light. My request was granted after winning first prize in oration the 2nd time.
6.How did martial law change your life?
It was scary during the few years of martial law because some of our townmates who were in the military came home in coffins because they were ambushed by the NPA (New Peoples Army). It made me more aware of the role of the government in our lives. I realized how important freedom is! And since that time I wanted more to be a nurse so I can come here to the U.S.A.
OONA THOMMES PAREDES, 44
Assistant Professor, Department of Southeast Asian Studies,
National University of Singapore
1. Where were you when martial was declared in 1972?
It was a month before my fourth birthday. We recently moved from Misamis Oriental to Metro Manila, in Novaliches.
2. What were you doing then?
I have no memory of the actual declaration. But I distinctly remember the curfew, how we always had to make sure to be home on time. Once, we left a family party a bit too close to curfew and I remember my parents arguing in the car while we stopped at a light. I was 4 or 5, “sleeping” in the back seat and my mom was frantic about what would happen to us if we were stopped. They were talking about “what happened” to other people. But we obviously made it home okay.
3. From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?
It had always been martial law – I have no memory of it not being martial law. To me it was normal.
4. What was the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
Probably just being in Mindanao itself was the most dangerous thing, now that I think about it. I remember always being scared if we were on the road at night, because I heard that’s when ambushes took place.
[During martial law we always lived elsewhere, but were sent home to MisOr (Gingoog and Medina) during the whole summer and sometimes Christmas. Lived in Davao for 2 years, around 1978-79, when it was still relatively quiet – no sparrows or anything].
When I was in high school, after Ninoy was killed, I secretly sold copies at school of a booklet called “21 Days in August,” which my dad had written and co-produced. Some teachers and parents bought it from me. I don’t know if it was actually an illegal publication but it was made clear to me that I had to distribute in secret only.
5. What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
In Manila, tried to start a noise barrage on my street, Mabini (close to Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital). Only one other household joined me, and they did so from INSIDE their house. Not even my own family joined me. I must have looked like a complete idiot standing in the street shouting and hitting an empty NIDO milk can.
6. How did martial law change your life?
It killed any possibility that I would ever go into politics. (More tomorrow. Those who wish to share their own answers, please email firstname.lastname@example.org)