remembering Martial Law

September 21, 1972 has been a date forever etched in the history of the Philippines as Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree 1021, which placed the entire country under the state of martial law as a way in addressing what was then a “deteriorating” condition of the country’s peace and order. For some, the Martial Law years was a time that our country achieved stability and growth which succeeding administrations have yet to surpass.

Then there are others, especially those who became victims of human rights violations during this period, who feel that this particular dark, unforgettable chapter in history should not be glorified. Hearing stories of those imprisoned, tortured, killed or forcibly gone into disappearance (AKA the desaparecidos) can make one shudder in horror of the crimes done against these victims.

As a way to keep the memory of these people who fought and suffered under the Martial Law era, a memorial was set up near the busy intersection of EDSA and Quezon Avenue, right across the Manila Seedling Bank called the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Memorial of Heroes) dedicated to those who suffered and/or died as consequence of the atrocities committed during that time.

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The complex is composed of an auditorium/museum about Martial Law, as well as a wide outdoor amphitheater named the Ambassodor Alfredo Yuchengco Auditorium which both serve as venues for events, especially those that pertain to human rights.

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But the centerpiece of this memorial is a black, shiny, granite wall which is inscribed with names of the many victims of the Martial Law, though this list is incomplete. One can see here the names of Lean Alejandro, Jose Diokno, Chino Roces, Eman Lacaba, and, perhaps the most prominent of them all, Benigno Aquino Jr.

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There is also a monument dedicated to these victims, with words from Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” which read:

I die just when I see the dawn break

Through the gloom of night, to herald the day

And if color is lacking, my blood thou shall take

Poured out at need for thy dear sake

To dye with its crimson the waking ray…

© The Urban Roamer

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