RAGE AND COURAGE: Mindanao under martial law (3)

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 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.

Davao City
Gabriela Women’s Party

1. Where were you when martial law was declared?
I was in Davao City, particularly, at the University of Mindanao.

2.    What were you doing then?
September 23, 1972 was a Saturday. I was enrolled at UM, taking up Arts & Sciences, a transferee from Silliman University.  It was my Chemistry laboratory class.

3.   From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?
Around 9AM, my colleagues from Makibaka (Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan) Davao City chapter came to my class and told me that martial law was already declared and I had to go with them.  Everything was so hazy that time.  I was scared but I was also very angry with then President Marcos.

4.    What was the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
September 23, 1972 – after leaving my class, we went around the city distributing leaflets written the day before.  It was a statement telling people that the declaration of martial law was imminent and urging people to fight back. It was a dangerous task.

I did not go home that night; I stayed at my friend/comrade’s place where we had to write another statement condemning the fascist military rule and we were supposed to distribute the leaflets the following day. When I went home early morning, I was met by some neighbors who were friends of my brother in law (who told me) that I had to go somewhere else because the house where I was staying was raided by the PC (Philippine Constabulary; now Philippine National Police) three times that evening and the soldiers were looking for me.  After that, I went underground, staying from one house to another.

Maybe we can consider fighting underground against the Marcos dictatorship was dangerous, although I did not feel so scared that time.  I was arrested for three times and I never gave up fighting against the Marcos dictatorship.

But the most dangerous thing that I did was escaping the detention camp.  Together with two other detainees, we escaped and were reunited with my other collective.  However, I was again arrested after two months and stayed in prison for almost two years.

5.   What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
Looking back,  I think the funniest thing I did was being reluctant to use the computer and communication gadgets. I was very hesitant at first to let go of my electric typewriter, I was thankful that a comrade was tasked to force me to learn computer.

6.     How did martial law change your life?
At a very young age, martial law made me responsible, strong, tough and independent.  I learned how to cope with hardship and difficult situations without my family. I was also trained to lead the work even if I was the youngest among our collective.

Martial  law stopped me from schooling so that I was the only one among my siblings who did not finish college.  But I kept reading and discussing with my collective, friends and allies who were mostly older and professionals.

Martial law helped me trust and become closer with the masses.  I gave myself under their care and they helped me learn other things in life.

Martial law taught me discipline and respect for other people’s time and work.  For security reasons, we were very strict with time for meetings and appointments. We made sure that the policies were followed to the letter because any violation could mean death or arrest or torture of anybody from our group.

Quezon City
Dean, Ateneo School of Government

1.  Where were you when martial was declared in 1972?
Cagayan de Oro

2.   What were you doing then?
First year high school student in Xavier University.

3.  From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?
My parents who heard it from radio.

4.   What was  the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
Marching against the dictatorship with guns pointed at us.

5. What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
Inventing excuses not to meet my philosophy classes so I could attend marches and rallies against the Marcos regime.

6.   How did martial law change your life?
I decided to become a human rights lawyer and a peace and justice worker because of martial law.

Naawan, Misamis Oriental
Freelance Consultant on Integrated Coastal Resource Management

1.  Where were you when Martial Law was declared in 1972?
Bongao, Sulu (now Tawi-Tawi)

2.  What were you doing then?
I was teaching in MSU Sulu College of Technology and  Oceanography

3.   From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?

4.   What was the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
Visiting the lair of former  activist colleagues who went underground

5.   What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
Marrying my girlfriend a few months after the declaration thinking that I might not live long

6.   How did martial law change your life?
It threatened but was unable to kill or tame my rebellious spirit. (More tomorrow. Those who wish to share their own answers, please email editor@mindanews.com)