NAFCON and Kabataan Alliance: 50 Years Later, Decrying Martial Law in the Philippines is Still Relevant 

Fifty years ago on September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. proclaimed Martial Law in the country. This imposed direct military control of normal societal functions which led to a wide array of human rights abuses including the torture and murder of thousands of Filipino people. The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and Kabataan Alliance honor the martyrs and activists who persevered against the dictatorship of Marcos with everything they had, and vehemently decries the efforts of the Marcos family to revise the inhumane atrocities committed against everyday people during Martial Law.

Presidents have Changed, But the Systems have Remained the Same

We are at a pivotal point in our history as the 2022 Philippines elections concluded on May 09, 2022 naming Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the new President and Sarah Duterte as the Vice President, continuing the trend of dynasties, or political succession of people in power coming from the same family.  The structures of Martial Law have remained the same in the past 50 years in the use of militarization to suppress those who are wanting change and an economic system imbued with corruption, which allows the families of those in power to flourish amidst the worsening economy with increasing poverty and landlessness. The issues and hardships faced by the Filipino people will continue under the same tyrannical rule and so we must persevere in connecting the aspirations of the people for a free and healthy society with involvement and mobilization for active change. 

We encourage those who survived the era of Martial Law to take their time to grieve and rest, then continue the work to remind others to never forget, pass on the lessons from their experiences, and persuade our community to link together in the struggle for change.

The Youth Perspective on Martial Law

On the other hand, we encourage those who did not experience Martial Law to challenge themselves by studying Philippine society and history, and be vigilant against the horrors of the Martial Law period, and continue the fight for democracy in the Philippines. Kabataan Alliance engages with  Filipino youth living, studying, and working in the United States, who have had limited understanding of the history of martial law because it has been hidden from them by design. The history of our parents, tito, titas, lolos, and lolas – their personal experiences and stories shaped by their class background and surrounding environment – are often untold due to the personal trauma from martial law and struggles in migrating. While many grow up one to three generations removed from the Marcos era, we still have a duty to honor the memories of the tens of thousands detained, arrested, and killed for championing the issues of the broad majority of our people. The truth about martial law has been systematically revised in textbooks and schools to erase the severity of human rights violations, economic collapse, and attacks on the poor. At the same time, the government continues to brandish Marcos Sr. as a savior of the Filipino people, hiding his true tyrannical character, while downplaying the mass movement that rose from the streets against his rule. 

Living away from our families and loved ones back home, many of us spend a lot of time asking ourselves what home means, and how to find it. In taking care to preserve our family histories, cultures, and languages, we must recognize the dire conditions that have necessitated our families’ migration away from home and towards the formation of our diasporic identities in the first place. This includes the Marcos administration’s rampant disinformation pushed out on social media – influencing the minds of our family and friends and obscuring the truth.

Unity Statement of NAFCON and Kabataan Alliance

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and Kabataan Alliance recognize the intentional attempts to blur what has happened in the past 50 years, creating fictional stories and revision of texts in favor of portraying the Marcos family in a positive light. Understanding history based on evidence and critical analysis is necessary for us to have a better understanding of the world, a better understanding of those who seek power and those who seek liberation, and the violent  suppression of those who pursue change. We must guard against the type of historical revisionism that is actually propaganda to deny what has already been proven in order to promote certain agendas and political ambitions by those in power. As we seek the true history of the Filipino people, we will uncover the strength of those who fought against repression who continue to remind us to not be afraid. 

As Filipinos in the diaspora, we will continue to work together and with our fellow kababayan in conducting community-based education to know the genuine history of our people, including the real events that surrounded Martial Law. We will continue to be discerning of the media and the dangers of misinformation, and be attentive and aware of the ongoing political developments back home as many of the farmers, workers, students, and professionals continue to face harassment. We will continue to raise our consciousness, educate ourselves on Filipino concerns, and champion the cause of the Filipino people.