September 23, 1972. After an eerie media silence for about 2 days, the airwaves went back that evening for President Ferdinand Marcos to address the nation. It was as eerie as it turned out to be as he announced that two days prior, on September 21, he signed Proclamation No. 1081 which placed the entire Philippines under Martial Law.
Since then, the course of Philippine history would be changed forever. A dramatic shift whose effects are still being felt today, even after more than 40 years.
While there is still heated debate whether the Martial Law era brought a lot of good or a lot of bad to the country, what cannot be denied is that there were many who suffered during this contentious moment in our history. Some were imprisoned, tortured, killed, or worse, disappeared without a trace.
It is in remembrance of these people that a Martial Law Memorial Wall was set up in Mehan Garden in Manila.
Engraved on a series of simple marble wall structures are the names of those who suffered and died at the height of Marcos’ Martial Law regime from 1972 to 1986: from student leaders like Edgar Jopson and Lean Alejandro to the political heavyweights like Cesar Climaco and Ninoy Aquino, all of them risked and gave their lives for the sake of our democratic freedoms that were being curtailed during that period.
And in a midst of a reexamination of that period with regards to how it impacted our country, may the names etched on this wall not be relegated to the wayside in the drive to create a balanced perspective of our history.