“We are here today because we believe that the struggle of Filipinos during that time did not end. As youth, we have a role to continue that not only for our future but for the next generation as well.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – They belong to the millennial generation but are nonetheless aware of the dark period in Philippine history.
Mark Santos, 15, a student from Cavite, joined the 30th commemoration of the 1986 people power uprising. For him and his friend Lorenz Martin Godoy, 17, also from Cavite, joining such commemoration would give them an understanding of why there are still calls for genuine change.
It’s the first time that Santos attended a protest. “At least I will have an idea of what it was really like during martial law, what others during that time experienced. And from there we would know what needs to be done for the nation,” he told Bulatlat in an interview.
“There is a saying that the youth would take the place of older people and one day, it will be our duty to give the next generation a better future,” said Godoy.
What they know
Santos’s father is a supporter of the President’s father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. He said his father joined the protest action to welcome Ninoy at the airport that fateful day of August 21, 1983. Ninoy was gunned down and his supporters outside the Manila airport were violently dispersed.
Godoy, on the other hand, read stories about the Marcos dictatorship through the internet. “I read that there were many political prisoners during that time. That student activists were accused of being a member of the communist group and they were executed or disappeared without the benefit of a trial,” he said.
Eighteen-year-old Annalou Monzales’s parents told her stories about martial law. “They experienced a difficult life back then. That is why I believed them when they said that nothing changed up to now. People are still poor and they are getting poorer. The same people are also ruling the country so nothing really changed,” she said.
Monzales added that in Southern Luzon, many activists who are also fighting for their right to land and jobs are harassed by employers and state security forces.
Lorena Dela Cruz, 17, an education student, said that although people power uprising freed the Filipinos from the dictatorship, she still couldn’t feel that the people really have freedom.
Dela Cruz said that in her school alone, students have no freedom of speech. “We are being suppressed and told by the administration not to join any organization (outside the school) because they said, these organizations are unruly. We are being dictated upon regarding what organizations to join and not to join,” she said.
The role of the youth
“We are here today because we believe that the struggle of Filipinos during that time did not end. As youth, we have a role to continue that not only for our future but for the next generation as well,” said Zaimorah Odzong, 20.
Kristian Advincula, 19, a marketing student said the youth should always safeguard what the activists of the first people power have fought for: ousting the dictator. Especially now that the Marcoses are back in power, he said.
Advincula warned against the return of martial rule if the dictator’s son, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, wins the vice presidential race. He said that presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also has ‘fascist’ tendencies.
“If we let that happen, it’s the youth who will also be greatly affected,” he said.
In his speech during the program, Bonifacio Ilagan, a director and playwright detained during martial law, called on to the youth to be critical.
Ilagan said Bongbong is using the family’s ill-gotten wealth for his electoral campaign. He added that Bongbong continues to cover up all the crimes, human rights violations, plunder and economic sabotage his father committed.
“Kaya mga kabataan, mag-isip tayo at makiisa tayo sa sambayanang Pilipino upang pigilin ang engrandeng pakana ng mga Marcos na bumalik sa Malacanang,” (So it is incumbent on the youth to really analyze what is happening and be one with the people to put a stop to the grand plan of the Marcoses to return to Malacanang.) he said.