MANILA — Some 50 young people took part Sunday in a bus and walking tour at various Martial Law-related sites in Metro Manila as the 50th anniversary of the declaration of military rule in the country by the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. nears, Akbayan Party said.
"This is a profound journey for the truth, for the memory of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we have now, and the lessons that this dark past should teach us," Akbayan spokesperson RJ Naguit said in a statement.
"As we mark the 50th year since the declaration of Martial Law, we remind everyone that history is not a random collection of names, dates and places. It is about the struggle, and the search for the truth behind the past. It is a living guide for the future of our youth and our nation," he said.
The commemoration of Marcos' Martial Law declaration is commonly observed every Sept. 21, the day in 1972 when he signed Proclamation No. 1081.
It lasted until January 1981, during which human rights violations and massive corruption were reported.
Sunday's event was called the "Road Trip: A Martial Law history bus and walking tour." It started at 9 a.m., and is set to finish at 6 p.m., said Akabayan Party, which is one of the organizers.
The visited sites include the Mendiola Bridge, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Manila Film Center, the Coconut Palace, the Ninoy Aquino monument in Makati, the EDSA Shrine, the People Power Monument, the Bantayog ng mga Bayani and the University of the Philippines (UP).
Naguit said most of the participants are college and senior high school students students, while the rest were young professionals. A 15-year-old also joined.
Historian Xiao Chua led the tour, sharing stories behind the sites.
At the Manila Film Center, tour participants offered flowers for the workers who died after the structure's scaffolding collapsed during its construction.
The $21-million center was a project of former First Lady Imelda Marcos in her bid to make Manila the "Cannes of the East." For six months, 8,000 workers toiled 24 hours a day, up until the opening day in January 1982.
Due to media censorship during martial law, the exact number of those who died in the accident remains a mystery, while rumors swirled that bodies remain trapped in the building to this day.
At the UP Diliman campus, participants were brought to the UP Freedom Memorial Site, which houses the Aviation Security Command (Avsecom) van that carried former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. after he was assassinated at the then Manila International Airport in August 1983.
"We will not surrender our country's memory to fakery. Even as the enemies of truth have the upper hand right now, we will continue to push back and reclaim our stories and history," Naguit said.
Marcos' son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., was elected president in the May elections. His older sister, Imee, is a senator.
In an interview that aired on ALLTV channel on his 65th birthday last Sept. 13, Marcos Jr. denied allegations that his family has been trying to revise history to clean their image following his father's decades-long dictatorship.
“There’s no reason to revise history,” Marcos said in the taped interview.
“We recognize naman the problems that happened, the abuses that occurred like in any war. All of these things are some things that are already part of history,” he said.
Thousands of Filipinos have been recognized by courts as victims of rape, kidnapping, torture and military abuse during Marcos Sr.'s regime.
Critics have said Marcos Jr's run for the presidency was driven by a massive misinformation campaign aimed at revamping the family brand.
- with Nico Bagsic, ABS-CBN News