I get it. This happened in what seems to be a lifetime ago.
I was 4 months old when the EDSA Revolution occurred, an older generation millennial that was still too young to understand what was going on in the country and how this would affect me as a Filipino. Sure, I learned about Ferdinand Marcos and his dictatorship in school, and oftentimes would hear some tito, tita, or college professor wish for the “good old days” when there was martial law and people were disciplined and had “respect for authority.” This was the world I grew up in.
From what I was being told, sure during the 20 odd years that Marcos was in power he sounded kind of strict, but a lot of the people around me concurred that it was to our benefit. They told me stories of growing up back in the day where kids would all go to school and they would never be any kind of jealousy over a classmate’s bag or shoes because they were all required to wear the same brand from Marikina. And how they had a portrait of the president in all their classrooms. And how they had to be indoors by a certain time or else you’d be put in jail for loitering around the streets at night which kept kids safe and gangs rom roaming the streets. Listening to them at the time, sure, it sounded… sensible. Looking back at it now, it sounds a lot like communist China.
Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters was probably the first book I picked up in high school that forced me to take a long, hard look at Ferdinand Marcos, martial law and how a majority of Filipinos simply accepted it as the new normal, how “crimes against the people” was labeled as “leftist” by the government, the rationalization of corruption, and how they blatantly denied that the Filipino government was a dictatorship. Arlene Chai’s novel, Eating Fire and Drinking Water, which I discovered (and devoured) as a freshman in college, painted a more horrifying picture of the times during the dark regime, where reporters and student activists were being picked up on the street by the civilian police, where prisoners were being raped and strangled to death by their own hair being wrapped around their necks, where generals considered torture and killing to be some garish art form, and just what a bloodbath the dictatorship of El Presidente was.
Granted, these were just stories about the lessons once realized in the time of martial law, but they educated me more than what most of the older generation around me would care to share about their experience. Most of them kept their heads down and mouths shut, and did the best they could not to make waves so as not to get in trouble. Which was understandable if you feared for your life. So I understand how the younger generation of millennials can’t fully understand the significance of why the Supreme Court’s vote to allow the late Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in Libingan ng Mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) has everyone up in arms.
“Military historian Alfred McCoy cited 3,257 extrajudicial killings, some 35,000 cases of torture, and some 70,000 incarcerations perpetrated by the Marcos regime. Human rights group Karapatan documented 759 involuntarily disappearances. The Marcos dictatorship also mired a generation of Filipinos in poverty, having stolen an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion according to the United Nation’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, and entrenched a system of corruption throughout government. ” – rappler.com
Fellow millennials, we need to know what happened during those 20 years martial law was in effect. In a world where people share their stories with a click of a button, you just need to search #MarcosIsNOTaHero to understand where the fuel of this fire is coming from. Empathize with just how atrocious this act is for everyone who risked their lives, underwent torture, and died for our civil rights, and for the families who were directly affected by this. It is NOT ok to not care. This country will soon be passed to us, after all.
Below are not just stories of fiction based on historical events, but a compilation of experiences of people during what was arguably the darkest period of our history, either told by them, by case files, or a loved one. I promise, this is way better than anything you’ll ever read in Creepypasta… as they are all true:
The following is text narrated from the case filed by the parents of Archimedes Trajano against the Marcoses for the torture and murder of their son. He was only 21 when he questioned Imee Marcos on why she was the National Chairman of the Kabataang Barangay during an open forum. He was taken by her security team, tortured, and thrown out a window. For what? For asking a question that didn’t sit right with the president’s daughter.
In August of 1977, Ferdinand Marcos was President of the Philippines, Marcos-Manotoc was the National Chairman of the Kabataang Baranggay, and Fabian Ver was in charge of military intelligence. Archimedes Trajano was a student at the Mapua Institute of Technology. On the 31st of August, Trajano went to an open forum discussion at which Marcos-Manotoc was speaking. When Trajano asked a question about her appointment as director of an organization, he was kidnapped, interrogated, and tortured to death by military intelligence personnel who were acting under Ver’s direction, pursuant to martial law declared by Marcos, and under the authority of Ver, Marcos, and Marcos-Manotoc. He was tortured and murdered for his political beliefs and activities. Marcos-Manotoc controlled the police and military intelligence personnel who tortured and murdered Trajano, knew they were taking him to be tortured, and caused Trajano’s death.
In February of 1986, Marcos, Marcos-Manotoc, General Ver and others left the Philippines and arrived at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. On March 20, 1986, Agapita Trajano filed her complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.3 The complaint seeks damages on behalf of the estate of Archimedes Trajano for false imprisonment, kidnapping, wrongful death, and a deprivation of rights, and on behalf of Trajano’s mother for emotional distress. Default was entered against Marcos-Manotoc on May 29, 1986. In 1991, she moved to set aside entry of default on the ground of insufficiency of service. The motion was denied and, after a damages hearing, judgment was entered based on the court’s findings that Trajano was tortured and his death was caused by Marcos-Manotoc. The court concluded that this violation of fundamental human rights constitutes a tort in violation of the law of nations under 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and awarded damages of $4.16 million and attorneys’ fees pursuant to Philippine law.
You would never think that Bayan Muna party list Representative Neri Colomnares was ever tortured and imprisoned during the Marcos dictatorship, something he described as the “darkest, most horrible, and bloodiest chapter in Philippine history” to GMA News Online. He was 18 at the time.
Influenced by then-Negros Bishop Antonio Fortich, one of Ferdinand Marcos’ more vocal challengers, he joined the fight for human rights. “Gusto ipadakip siguro nina Marcos si Bishop Fortich, hindi naman kaya, so lahat ng mga subordinates niya , hinuli. Isa na ako dun,” Colmenares shared at the the launch of Karapatan’s “Himagsik at Protesta” exhibit. Wanting to humiliate the teen, he was stripped naked and beaten with a ruler when he was first caught, but it only got worse when the sun went down and the guards had more time on their hands.
“To think na on the third and the fourth day, they were not even trying to extract information from me kasi lahat that they wanted to know, nakuha na nila sa iba kong kasamahan,” Colmenares added, saying that when he wrote his confession, his torturers didn’t like it, so they made him eat the paper.
Colmenares said the torture went on for days, but worse than the physical abuse was the mental torture, saying how the body goes numb after a few days, but the mind remains receptive. He recalled how one of the torturers would make the prisoners squat while he carried a .45 pistol and kicked them randomly from behind. “Ang nangyayari pala, ‘pag ginagawa sa ‘yo yan, every time he’s in front of you, magre-relax ka, ‘pag nasa likod siya, d’un ka kabahan. In the end, gusto mo tadyakan ka para lang ma-relieve ‘yung tension,” he said.
In another instance, the guard brought him and another detainee to a room, where they made him watch as they inserted wire into the other man’s genitals and electrocuted him. “Sabi sa ‘kin, ‘Upo ka muna Neri ikaw sunod ah…’ Siyempre nakikita ko dumudugo, tsaka ako ‘yung sunod ‘di ba…Grabe talaga ang feeling ko d’un,” Colmenares shared. Instead of electrocuting his genitals, they transferred him to what he called the “headquarters” instead. “Grabe yung impunity nung Martial Law. Headquarters eh, tino-torture ka sa gabi, makikita ka nila sa umaga sa mga rooms, mga tao, alam nilang tino-torture ka, pero walang sinasabi,” he said.
In another instance, one of the guards, who appeared to be intoxicated, asked him if he felt lucky and engaged him in a game of Russian roulette, sticking a gun in his mouth. He was instructed to say “Mao” with the gun in his mouth. “Ang lamig pa;a ng baril pat nasa loob ng bibig mo. Pagsabi kong ‘Mao,’ pinitik niya yung gatilyo. Pag nasa loob ‘yung baril ng bunganga mo, ang lakas ng tunog. Akala ko pumutok ‘yung baril eh. I could see my brain splattered there,” The guard then pulled the trigger a second time. “‘Buenas ka talaga, Neri,’ sabi niya, ‘You’re destined to live. Pwede ka na tumakas, umuwi ka na,” Colmenares recalled.
Colmenares also shared how the guards became frustrated with one of his companions who did not crack even after four days of torture. According to him, they put him inside a drum and buried him alive. “They could have shot him, they could have killed him, but no, they had to bury him alive for no purpose at all and for years alam mo ‘yung nanay niya, every time she sees me cries. ‘Yan ang problema sa desaparecido pala. Walang closure,” he said.
Maria Elena Ang
A 23-year-old journalism student from the University of the Philippines, she was on her way to church on the 6th of August, 1976 when she was snatched by the elements of the 5th Constabulary Security Unit (CSU) headed by Lt. Victor Batac. She narrates her experience,
“Unidentified military officers dumped me into their car. It was about five minute trip from my place of arrest to a secret headquarters of ISAFP. Immediately I was subjected to a most degrading, inhuman and humiliating experience I would never want to relive again. But the memories keep coming back. Up to now, in detention, I still have recurrent nightmares.
They threatened to kill me, get my relatives and torture them in front of me. They kept telling me nobody saw them taking me in… An agent then forcibly removed my blouse and bra and unzipped my fly. Another brought in a hand-cracked electric generator used in military telephone. Two exposed wires were then tied around the little fingers of my right hand foot. … … I could do nothing but scream… The electric session lasted for nearly two hours and was repeated in the evening. After the electric shock, the military authorities were still not satisfied. This time I was stripped naked and force to lie on a short table.
At this instance, Major Arsenio Esguerra of the 5th MIG-ISAFP entered the room and signaled the start of the water cure, which they laughingly called the NAWASA session – Nawasa being the supplier of water in Manila. This time, besides four men restraining my hands and feet, another formed my hair into a bun and pulled my head down so that it kept hanging on the air until I felt that the water was racing though my brains. I passed out twice but they kept pouring until I thought I would die.
Beside pouring water, several agents mashed my breasts while another contented himself by inserting his fingers in my vagina after failing to make me masturbate.” (Alfred McCoy, “Closer than Brothers,” p. 215-16)
According to an article on Rappler, aside from electrocution of body parts and genitals, it was routine to waterboard political prisoners, burn them using cigarettes and flat irons, strangle them using wires and steel bars, and rub pepper on their genitals. Women were stripped naked, made to sit on ice blocks or stand in cold rooms, and were sexually assaulted using objects such as eggplants smeared with chili peppers.
Enrico O. Bucoy
21-years-old at the time, he was arrested in 1972 by the police and a paramilitary unit in San Fernando, Bukidnon, and tortured and detained for three years. Here’s a transcript of the recording that describes his arrest and torture that you can listen to on interaksyon.com:
“I was arrested by members of the police force and paramilitary units of San Fernando, Bukidnon, Mindanao. I was brought to the municipal hall-slash-jail and inside the cell I was mauled by the Chief of Police and the mayor together with members of the police. I was dragged out of my cell with my hands and feet tied. I suffered severe bruises due to dragging, then my face was placed on the floor and repeatedly stamped (sic) with their feet. This was done by alternating my left and right cheek (sic). Then, not satisfied, my lips were burned with cigarette butts. they extinguished the butts on my face, lips, and body. All (sic) the time I was not given food or water., even with my repeated pleading. Then I was brought to the PC (prison camp) barracks in Malaybalay where I suffered more pain in the hands of the investigating officer. A certain Sgt. Prudente kept on hitting my bullet wounds and told me he would not stop until I owned my involvement with the Underground and the killing of a policeman. I was detained without trial for two years and five months, more or less. My family visited me, but they would only show me from a distance. They were not allowed to go near me. It was only later on in my detention that they allowed it. I was in solitary confinement for two to three months. They only provided me with a can where I can urinate and was kept in the dark on what they would do to me next.”
Dr. Juan Escandor
At the age of 42, Dr. Juan Escandor, or Johnny as he was known to his peers and ‘Ka Mapalad’ to others, was a victim of “salvaging,” a euphemism for summary execution or what we know today as extra judicial killings (EJT). His death was so muddled, that to this day his family is still uncertain about the exact date of his death as the information that was reported by the police to the newspapers, the entries on the death certificate given by the Philippine Constabulary Crime Laboratory, and statements of the personnel at the funeral parlor were all conflicting – a result of a botched cover-up.
It took a week or so before a relative learned of and identified Johnny’s body in the morgue, and when his family collected his corpse, they saw the tell-tale signs of the torture he underwent. His brother, Ireneo, noticed a bullet entry wound below one ear, indicating that he was shot at close range. Bruises covered his face and body, patches of his mustache were plucked, there were cigarette burns on his face, and his right eye has been gouged out.
He was buried in his hometown in Sorsogon on April 11, 1983, but his body was then exhumed and autopsied again, notwithstanding the supposed autopsy made by the crime laboratory which concluded that Johnny died from “cardio-respiratory attack due to shock and hemorrhage secondary to gunshot wounds in the body. The pathologist discovered trash – plastic bags, dirty rags, and a pair of briefs – inside his skull while his brains were found inside his abdominal cavity. His internal organs had suffered from hemorrhage and hematoma, and x-ray results showed fractures of the occipital bone in the ares where his brother had noticed a bullet wound. The second pathologist concluded that Johnny died from craniotomy-cerebral injury.
The fact-finding team and forensic specialist who reviewed the results concluded that of the six gunshot wounds he sustained, four were fired into his abdominal area at a distance of two to three yards – two while standing up and the other two while he was falling down. As he laid on the ground, a shot was fired into his right leg and another one at his head.
The tipping point of the people’s anger and pain happened with Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., one of the leaders of the opposition party and the head of the Lakas Party, was shot in cold blood disembarking his plane at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983. If you think being a part of the People Power Revolution was all peace, love, and people waving around placards in protest, you’d be wrong. While a 29-year-old Bongbong Marcos wanted to run everyone over with tanks, General Fabian Ver could smell the change in the air and thankfully aligned with the opposition. The then Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines prevented what would have been one of the most bloody protests in Philippine history. Now, it’s interesting to note that he was never prosecuted for his own sins after the new government took over, but that’s another story for another day.
Jay is a well-respected techpreneur in his industry, and holds many titles as CEO & Founder of Proudcloud, CEO & Co-Founder of Launchgarage, and CTO & Co-Founder of Medifi.But before that he was a student, scared and angry about what was happening to this country, and willing to put his
underage life on the line for what he believed was right.
I was 4 years old when Martial Law was declared. I was 17 during EDSA. My drivers license was still a student’s permit but I drove an old beat up Mini Cooper to join People Power with my brother and buddies from Blue Ridge. Milling about at the intersection of White Plains Avenue and EDSA, an announcement came on that the tanks (parked near where the shrine is now) were about to roll. Everyone quickly took our “kapit-bisig” positions, arms interlocked, to hold our ground against any advance toward Camps Aguinaldo and Crame. I found myself separated from my friends in the chaos, beside complete strangers, “kabayans” nonetheless. The middle aged man on my left turns to me with a smile and says, “Para sa kinabukasan ninyo itong pinaglalaban natin dito. Kahit mamatay tayo lahat.” (We’re fighting for your future here, even if we all die doing this.) This of course amplified the fear I had at that moment. I’m 47 now, probably around the same age as that man back in ’86, and I always remember him and what he said every year EDSA is remembered. I’m grateful for him having been there for us kids. On #edsa30, living in the future he was so willing to die for, I wonder where he is now. Probably 77 and reflecting on EDSA just as I am. Being roughly his age back then, will I be willing to rise to the occasion as he did, if the time comes? Fighting for a free future for the sake of coming generations? Having my own 14 year old today, I dare to presume that I would. It would be way cooler though if we could, instead, prevent it from ever happening again.
To many others, the past still haunts them, and the Supreme Court’s decision has only brought back those old ghosts.
Image Credit: Susan Quimpo
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE…Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Presbitero Velasco Jr, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Perez, Teresita de Castro, Jose Mendoza, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe?No amount of eloquent speeches will cover the fact that you have lied to yourselves, to your children, and to the entire nation. See here the faces of the Martial Law dead. May you see them nightly in your dreams. May they cry out to you, for you don the robes of Justice yet you trade the Truth for money and political favors, then have the gall to stand tall and proud, unscathed by shame. In your sleep, may you feel each bruise, each wound, each blow… may you feel the prick of the syringe needles in your testicles as my brother Ronald Jan felt under torture ; may you feel the bullet that shattered my brother Jun’s skull. May you feel the agony of gagging on the penises of military men as they thrust these into your mouth, over and over. In your sleep, nightly, for the rest of your dishonorable life… may the martial law dead come to haunt you. And when you die, let your legacy of lies be remembered through generations that your children, and their children, and their children’s children would choose to forsake your name for SHAME.” – Susan Quimpo
The late Ferdinand E. Marcos was listed in the 1986 Guinness Book of World Records as the MOST CORRUPT LEADER in the history of the world, which is quite a feat, even for him, as him and his wife plundered the Philippine coffers to the tune of $10 billion. He was never sorry or repentant for what he had done and the atrocities he ordered his men to do, his family has never bothered to apologize for anything, and the stolen billions being ordered back by the international courts have been slowly given back begrudgingly. I am neither yellow or red, what I am is empathetic towards those who have suffered great tragedies and furious at those trying to re-write history to try and turn a ruthless despot into a loving hero, and saddened by a growing number of youths who have either not educated themselves enough on that dark part of our past not so long ago, and would rather blindly follow the will of the current president, who had ordered this to go through in order to appease his friends.