A call to the studentry yearning for genuine freedom from oppression.

As the UPLB Perspective, along with the whole nation, commemorates the 41st anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, we honor those who braved the oppression. We honor the heroes and martyrs—those who died and disappeared fighting for social justice and genuine democracy. And we honor the masses, the Filipino people, who vowed that never again shall this happen.

But there is more to a commemoration. More than the appraisals, we are left with tasks at hands.

Be it be realized that September 21, 1972, is more than just a highlight in Philippine history. As we commemorate the courage of those who fearlessly called for rights of the people, we are also brought back to an excruciating scene of tyranny. Four decades and a year have passed since former president Ferdinand Marcos smacked the people’s democracy through the declaration of his martial rule—turning the 70’s into an era of political repression and censorship, a time of corruption and poverty, a period of the bedlam of democracy. Four decades and a year have passed, yet the people, especially the youth of this generation, seem to be unable to find a personal connection to what has happened then.

Four decades and a year ago, the rule of an iron fist tried to quell a growing resistance against an authoritarian rule. It did not succeed. The increasing oppression further fuelled the people’s resilient determination to topple the oppressor. Even [P] was born out of the students’ dissent on media repression—making it the first student publication to be reestablished after the declaration of martial law.

The establishment of [P] delivered a clear message throughout the student ranks. The struggle shall not cease.
It is from these events that we must draw our consciousness and courage to prevent the rise to power of yet another fascist dictator. Four decades and a year have passed, but we are still haunted with the same oppressive ambience of the martial law. Human rights are often overlooked; press freedom remains to be a myth; and equality seems to dwell only in our most hopeful dreams.

Today we are challenged with extrajudicial and media killings, political repression and human rights violations which are all still raging in the country. The people are still burdened with the spoils of corruption and exploitation. Social services such as education and healthcare still fail to meet the needs of the people. Workers still yearn for fair salaries and work conditions. Farmers are still landless due to pretentious land reforms.

This is our generation now—confronted with the same tribulations four decades and a year after Lean Alejandro and Abraham Sarmiento Jr., four decades and a year after Rizalina Ilagan and Ma. Leticia Pascual-Ladlad. As we savor the fruit of these people’s sacrifices and labors, let us vow to continue the fight they have fought—carrying the same unfazed spirit they have carried.

The struggle will not be an easy one. Therefore, we must act collectively. We cannot afford to be divisive in our campaigns. Four decades and a year after today, the next generation—our children—will look back to this time. Some of them will ask, “Four decades and a year ago, what have you done?”

When that time comes, we will have a definite answer.



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