RAGE AND COURAGE: Mindanao under martial law (1)

1st of a series

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 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.

Quezon City
Pimentel Center for Local Governance at the University of Makati

1.  Where were you when martial law was declared in 1972?
Nagtago kami ni Delegate Ernesto Rondon nga taga Nueva Ecija sa balay sa iyang amigo sa Q.C.

2.   What were you doing then?
Delegado ako sa Constitutional Convention alang sa Misamis Oriental

3.  From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?
Gitawgan ako pinaagi sa telefono sa akong mga higala nga gideklarar na ang martial rule.

4. What was  the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
Wala may akong madumduman. Basta ang akong gihimo mao lang ang pagsulti sa akong gihunahunang kamatuoran  ug pagbarug sa mga butang nga akong gitoohan.

5. What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
Ang pagtago namo nga maorag wala may nangita. Busa nga pagkahapon sa adlaw sa pagdeklarar sa martial rule, gilaayan na kami pagtagotago.  Busa migula kami sa among gitagoan ug mitambong kami sa session sa Constitutional Convention. Pila ka adlaw una ang milabay antes kami gisikop ug gibilanggo sa Campo Crame.

6.  How did martial law change your life?
Nagsamut ang akong pagtoo nga kinahanglan ang  katawhan mosiyagit sa ilang mga reklamo ug mobarug sa ilang gitoohan. Kay kun dili, mopatigbabaw ang diktadura.

AMINA RASUL, in her 50s
NCPAG Annex Bldg, Raul P de Guzman St, UP Diliman
President, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy
Managing Trustee, Magbassa Kita Foundation Inc

1. Where were you when martial was declared in 1972?
Before martial law was declared, I was already involved in student activism. During my freshman year, the First Quarter Storm broke: student activism was at an all-time high. …..  The UP student activists barricaded the campus. UP became an island of resistance to the Marcos regime. Since I was a lowly freshman (“promdi” at that or “from the province”), my role was to help prepare sandwiches for the barricaders, and fliers denouncing Marcos. Majority of the UP community, including the faculty and staff, supported the student activists.

I later joined the Samahan ng Progresibong Propagandista – but was just a lowly member, only interested to learn about the issues and lend my support.  My memories of UP are entwined with rallies, “dgs” or discussion groups, marches to Malacanang or the US Embassy crying “Marcos! Hitler! Dictador! Tuta!”

2. What were you doing then?
Days before martial law was declared, then Senator Ninoy Aquino came to UP and spoke to us at the lobby of the Arts and Sciences Building.  My memory seems like a dream, now.  Did it really happen?  But I remember that he spoke of the impending crackdown by President Marcos.  I remember that he called out a challenge:

Will you fight for your country?
Yes, we shouted!
Will you fight for democracy?
Yes, we shouted again.

I remember that he looked at us sadly and said, ‘No you won’t. You will continue to study. But  stand firm for your rights.’

3. From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?
I heard from a classmate that martial law had been declared.  My father, the late Ambassador Abraham Rasul Sr, was a leader of the Liberal Party.  Since he had given me the telephone number of the late Senator Gerry Roxas, I called the residence and spoke with Senator Roxas’ son – can’t remember if it was Sec Mar or the late Congressman Dinggoy – who told me it was true and to be prepared. He said we had to cut our conversation as the phone was bugged.

4. What was the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?
My parents, who were in Sulu, were understandably worried about how to keep me out of mischief.  In UP, everything had changed. It was like a heavy lid was placed on the cauldron of activism in UP.  But inside the cauldron, the spirit of rebellion seethed and bubbled, occasionally bursting out and covering the walls of UP with painted slogans as red as blood.

5.   What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
There weren’t too many funny moments.  I can only remember a radio personality making fun of the government’s slogan: sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina and kailangan.  He said, ‘sa ikauunlad ng bayan, bisikleta and kailangan.’  I heard they made him bike for hours.

6.  How did martial law change your life?
Martial law changed the direction of my life.  I had earlier wanted to take up law but decided against it.  After all, what use was the study of law if a dictator could change any law at any time for any reason?  Instead, I watched with dismay as Muslims separatism became a major justification for the imposition of martial law – even if it did not in fact exist.  I watched with growing horror while Muslims were targeted as insurgents and many Muslim towns were bombed, to make the threat seem more real.  I watched with anguish as Jolo was razed to the ground and my home vanish in the flames of war.  My family and thousands like us became bakwits overnight.   But the Bangsamoro rose from the flames.
I guess the horrors of war and of dictatorship, experiencing the oppressive weight of the authoritarian government on us cultural minorities, strengthened my core belief in democracy. Only under a democracy can each and everyone raise his or her voice in defense of rights and liberty.  Imbedded in my conscious and subconscious are the words: Never Again.

Honolulu, Hawaii
Professor, University of Hawaii School of Pacific and Asian Studies

1.  Where were you when martial was declared in 1972?
UP Diliman

2.   What were you doing then?
I was a B.S. Industrial Engineering major trying to get to the ROTC grounds for the usual Saturday drill

3.   From whom did you learn that martial law had been declared?
When the TV shows and radio programs went dead and the first face I saw when the television stations were allowed to broadcast again were the despicable faces of Francisco Tatad and the dictator Ferdinand Marcos

4. What was the most dangerous thing you did under martial law?

5.   What was the funniest thing you did under martial law?
Help in the successful propaganda campaign to force Imelda Marcos, Jr. out of UP Law School

6.  How did martial law change your life?
It made me a democrat

(More tomorrow. Those who wish to share their own answers, please email editor@mindanews.com)