NEW YORK (Sept. 22) — In an event commemorating the 37th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines on September 21, 1972, members of BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan New York/New jersey, New Committee for Human Rights and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) held an educational forum at Bluestockings Bookstore in New York City.
Ramon Mappala and Ramon Castaneda spoke about their experiences as youth members of opposition groups against the Marcos regime. Both were detained by the Philippine military and intelligence forces that sought to quell their organizing efforts during the Martial Law period.
The event also featured members of FiRE that performed an interpretative dance as a tribute to victims of human rights violations.
“We want to honor the Filipino people’s resistance against state oppression that continues to this day. We especially want to pay tribute to Melissa Roxas, a Fil-Am activist like ourselves, who was recently abducted and tortured by the Philippine military,” claimed Jackelyn Mariano, a FiRE member. “Despite the Philippine government’s attempt to silence Melissa, she resisted and is today a strong voice of truth,” she said.
BAYAN-USA sought to educate the new generation of Fil-Am youth about the conditions of the Philippines and paint a clear picture of what their parents may have experienced and encountered during their own youth. Valerie Francisco, chairperson of FiRE, stressed the importance of connecting the past to the present.
“Filipino people today must recognize the similarities between the conditions of the Marcos Regime during Martial Law and the conditions of the current regime under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Human rights violations are at an all-time high. Violence against women is increasing as militarization of Philippine communities increases,” Francisco said. “Freedom of speech is in as much danger today as it was during Martial Law.”
The forum concluded with a candlelight vigil, as Taospuso sang original songs, to also pay tribute to the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.