Dark days of martial law forced us to seek the light: Pangilinan

“Madilim na yugto ng ating kasaysayan ang martial law. Maraming hinuli nang walang kaso, pinahirapan, ninakawan ng ari-arian, pinatay. Hindi pala ito ang ‘bagong lipunang’ maunlad at maayos na binabandera sa mga dyaryo, radyo, at telebisyon.

Namulat ako sa totoong mukha ng martial law nang pinatay ang isang lider ng oposisyon. Nag-umpisa akong magmatyag tungkol sa kalagayan ng taumbayan at magtanong kung bakit ang daming isang-kahig, isang-tuka habang nagpapasasa ang diktador na si Marcos, ang kanyang pamilya at mga crony.

Hinubog ako ng panahong iyon, na kailangang makibaka, na nasa sama-samang pagkilos ang tagumpay upang hindi lang mapatalsik ang diktador, kundi mabaklas din ang mga galamay ng diktadurya, na para bang nabuhay muli ngayon.

Tinulak kami ng kapwa ko mga aktibista na makibaka para sa kapwa, para sa isa’t-isa, para sa kinabukasan. Tinulak kami ng panahon na magsilbing inspirasyon sa napakadilim na panahon na isang tao lang ang batas. Tinulak kami ng pangangailangan na maging matapang at maglingkod.

Tulad noon, ganyan din ang hamon ngayon: Magmatyag at magtanong. Magsilbing inspirasyon. Maging matapang at paglingkuran ang sambayanan.”

“Martial law is a dark chapter in our history. Many were arrested without charges, tortured, dispossessed of their properties, killed. It wasn’t the progressive and orderly ‘new society’ bannered in the newspapers, radio, and television.

The true face of martial law became clear to me when an opposition leader was killed. I started to examine our people’s condition and ask why there was so much poverty while Marcos the dictator, his family, and his cronies lived in opulence.

That period shaped me to the need to struggle in solidarity with others toward a victory not simply to oust the dictator, but to extricate the tentacles of dictatorship which appear to have resurrected now.

I and my fellow activists were pushed to fight for our fellow men and women, for ourselves, and for the future. We were pushed by those dark times when the law was about one man, to serve as inspiration. We were pushed by the need to be brave and to serve.

As before, that is the challenge of today: Examine and question. Serve as an inspiration. Be brave and serve the people.”