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Never forget, never again

People have become so fixated in making Martial Law the story of two rivaling families: the Marcoses vs. the Aquinos—the Reds vs. the Yellows.

The people have become so engrossed in this false dichotomy that they have forgotten that it was the Filipino people who truly suffered during this decade—they have forgotten about the horrors, they have forgotten about our martyrs.

Hilao, Mijares, Escandor, Trajano—these are but a few of the approximately 3, 200 people who were martyred during the Marcos Era. Their lives, deeds, and deaths were fuel to the Revolution that was to come.

Liliosa Hilao, for one, was a writer for the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s school paper and is widely considered to be the first martyr of the Martial Law Era. She was arrested, molested, and killed at Camp Crame in 1973. Her body was cut up, sawed up to her vagina, beheaded, and decapitated. She was torn into pieces and soaked in muriatic acid. She was 23.

Luis “Boyet” Mijares was the son of author Primitivo Mijares who wrote “The Conjugal Dictatorship.” Boyet’s body was found in 1977 with numerous stab wounds, his head bashed-in, genitals mangled, and eyes protruding. He was 16. His father’s body, on the other hand, has never been found.

Juan Escandor was a young doctor. He was tortured, shot, and killed in 1983. His skull was opened-up and filled with garbage, briefs, and plastic bags. His brain and other internal organs were found stuffed inside his stomach.

Archimedes Trajano was dragged out of a venue, tortured, and thrown out of a building window by security personnel for questioning Imee Marcos in a forum for her father’s alleged human rights violations. He was 21.

It’s high-time we stop associating Martial Law with the Marcoses and the Aquinos alone. It’s time we stop using the memory of that decade to label people as “Dilawan” or as “Apologists.” It’s time we use the memory of that decade to commemorate our martyrs—true heroes in the form of Hilao, Mijares, Escandor, Trajano, Jopson, Par, Bontia, and the thousands more who paid with their lives for our freedom.

Their battle then, is the same battle we are fighting in right now—a battle between the oppressors, and the oppressed.

Fifty years have not yet passed since the declaration of Martial Law and it seems ironic, even downright insulting, that there are already people saying that we should just “move on.” But to simply “move on” would be an insult to the democracy we so valiantly fought for during the People Power Revolution. To simply “move on” would be an insult to the memory of those who suffered—an insult to those whose names are forever etched in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

Until just compensation is finally given, until the bodies of everyone who ever vanished during that era are found, until justice is truly served—we will never “move on.” We will never forget. Never again.

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