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LOOK: Youth Inherit Martial Law Victims' Fight for Justice

Remembering a dark period in history.
by Ara Eugenio
Jun 30, 2022
Photo/s: Ara Eugenio

At Bantayog ng mga Bayani, where the memory of those persecuted during Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s martial law is remembered forever, old and new generations of activists who vow to never forget held their own changing of the guard on Thursday. 

As President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. was sworn into office, survivors of the elder Marcos' regime passed the torch to the youth, depending on their grasp of today's landscape to take on task of protecting the future by championning the memory of the past. 

"He is taking his oath. So we are also taking our oath to underscore, reiterate our committments to pursue our struggle for justice that his father deprived us and our people during the dark days of Martial Law," 70-year-old survivor Boni Ilagan told reportr. 

Ara Eugenio

Marcos Jr. was elected in a historic majority vote of more than 31 million last May, 36 years since the People Power Revolution ousted his father. 

Just 23 years old when he was detained illegally, "Ka Boni" is the elder brother of Rizalina Ilagan, who was among those who disappeared under Martial Law and whose name is etched on Bantayog's "Wall of Remembrance".

"We have to face the reality no matter how difficult it is to accept," Ilagan said, adding that they are entrusting the "painful, bitter uphill battle" ahead to the new generations of Filipinos that he said have awakened to history "in spite of the distortions and false narratives". 

Ara Eugenio
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The landscape has changed, Ilagan said, admitting to his generation's ineptitude when it comes to social media where today's battles are being fought. 

"We will depend on the young people," he said, adding, "hopefully, as survivors, resistance fighters during the regime, we should be able to provide them the insights, the lessons that we derived from our experience," he added. 

Ara Eugenio

Twenty-year old Khylla Meneses of Akbayan Youth, who served as the representative of her generation in the oath-taking, said it is really now her age group's fight. 

Meneses said she was disheartened by the results of the May 9 vote but knew too much is at stake for her to just give up. "Gigising ka nalang at kailangan mo ulit bumangon," she said. 

She urged her fellow youth to go beyond the elections in correcting false narratives designed to erase the memory of the past. 

"Hindi lang siya isang snap 'yung pagtindig. Isa siyang mahabang proseso ng paglaban, pagtataya at paninindigan na ito 'yung katotohanan, 'yung katotohanan na hindi lamang basta ginagawa ng kung sinomang may kapangyarihan," she said. 

The truth is with the actual narrative of those who experienced the horrors of martial law, she said.

"Kapag hindi po tumindig 'yung kabataan ngayon, baka wala na kaming titindigan pa sa mga susunod na panahon," she said.


Ara Eugenio
Ara Eugenio

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