SNEAK PEEK: Life under Martial Law inside 'experiential' museum

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2016 09:14 PM | Updated as of Feb 25 2016 11:38 AM

MANILA - "What you are about to see is not the EDSA of billboards, pollution and traffic jams that we are familiar with today."

This is the promise of an "experiential museum" set up inside Camp Aguinaldo, which aims not only to tell the story of EDSA, but also to let the youth experience the events that led to the 1986 People Power.

The museum, which is a mix of theater, cinema, photography, performance and installation arts, has eight halls that emphasize key events during a turbulent time in the country's history. 

Men and women, with their eyes covered and hands tied, lie down on a military bed in Hall of Restless Sleep. Photo by Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News

The EDSA journey starts at the Hall of Restless Sleep, where real people, seemingly sleeping, lie down on folding beds arranged like hospital beds in wartime makeshift hospital.

However, the eerie silence of their sleep is dominated by one voice only -- the voice of the late President Ferdinand Marcos on a video clip playing on loop.

In Hall of Hidden Truths, spectators can peek into holes where they can see men and women from upper class society dancing in romantic tunes and drinking wine. Photo by Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News

The journey continues with inside The Hall of Orphans, where children, lost and crying, restlessly search for their loved ones in front of barbed wire barricades.

A young girl cries as she looks for the whereabouts of Emman Lacaba, a Filipino writer and activist who fought against the dictatorship of Marcos. Photo by Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News

The kids are holding photos of real people who disappeared during the 14 years of Martial Law.

The adjacent hall welcomes visitors with eerie silence and blank stares from people who were lost, tortured, or killed during the Marcos regime.

According to Toym Imao, the creator of the art installation, the figures represent those left behind by victims of forced disappearances. Surrounding these figures are photos of activists who were either killed or tortured during Martial Law. Photo by Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News

In the middle of the room, a TV plays a real video of the Marcos family -- Ferdinand, Imelda, Imee and Bongbong -- in a lavish party.

The EDSA journey continues in a room called the Hall of Forgotten Martyrs, where the voices of those silenced and killed during the Martial Law days are heard through a captivating theatrical presentation.

In this hall, living people get to listen to the voices of Edgar Jopson, Macliing Dulag, Evelio Javier and Lorena Barros.

A woman playing the role of student-activist Lorena Barros stares blankly on the floor. In 1976, Barros was gunned down by military in a hut where she was staying. She was 28. Photo by Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News


Jose Claro of the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) said millennials are the target audience of the experiential museum.

"Marami na tayong museum sa Martial Law, kaya ang naisip ng komisyon kailangan lang talagang ilapit sa kabataan number one, interactive at number two, theatrical, kasi 'yan ang talent ng Pinoy e," he said.

Claro said the commission is planning to place a permanent experiential museum after this one. He said they are currently looking for host cities.

Meanwhile, Charito Planas, a staunch critic of the Marcos regime, called the museum "tremendous."

"I hope many people will visit this," said Planas who had to escape from the dictatorship during the Martial Law days. 

Asked about what lesson this museum is telling the youth, she said: "It's time to wake up. It's time to show your love for the country."

The museum will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight on Thursday and Friday. But visitors must first register at the EPPC website. --with reports from April Benjamin and Demerie Dangla, ABS-CBN News