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Oblation Run: a Tradition Vs Authoritarian Rule

One of the most anticipated activities held by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity in the University of the Philippines during December is the Oblation Run. A run of naked fraternity men, carrying political statements against burning issues of the day.

Ever wondered how it all started?

Here's what Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III wrote in his Business World column in 2013:
In previous runs, the issues included human rights, social justice and agrarian reform, clean elections, right to education, and fraternity violence. In one episode, the run called for the ouster of Gloria Arroyo. On another occasion, the message was Erap’s resignation.

Whether the message gets through is another story. UP Diliman nevertheless gets delirious once the naked runners appear. The coeds, open and closet gays, barbarians (those who don’t belong to a fraternity), and other fratmen jockey for position to see, not hear, the message.

Will there come a time that the sight of naked men will no longer attract attention? If that happens, APO would have to think of a jarring novelty like having erect men run. But that thing is hard to sustain. Or perhaps, the fraternity can ask alumnus brod Jejomar Binay to run naked. But a Binayrun is going to be awful.

The tradition is close to 40 years old. It all began in 1977 -- an event to publicize the staging of a play sponsored by APO titled Hubad na Bayani (Naked Hero). The play itself was political, exposing the human rights violations committed by the Marcos dictatorship. The regime subsequently banned the play.

However, it remains unknown to the public who founded the Oblation Run.

Nicky Morales headed the APO chapter in UP Diliman when the Oblation Run was born. The Oblation is to Guillermo Tolentino as the Oblation Run is to Nicky Morales.

After the senseless violence arising from fraternity rumbles, claiming the life of his brod Rolly Abad, Nicky nudged the fraternity to undertake productive and politically relevant activities.

oblation run

(Photos from Rouelle Umali/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

Pugad Baboy on Marcos and Martial Law

Pol Medina Jr talks about Bongbong, Imelda, and Ferdinand in the following politically inspired Pugad Baboy comic strips which he made for Rappler. They are titled Pamanang Utang, Puto Bongbong, and Marcos Hater. You can browse the originals (and the alternate punchlines) at the Rappler website.

Pamanang utang 01

Pamanang utang 01




Puto Bongbong 01

Puto Bongbong 01




Sabi 01

Sabi 01

The Lumad During Martial Law

Talabok

The following are excerpts of a blog post by Al Raposas in the blog The Young Filipino Historian. The post is an attempt to trace the roots of the struggle of the Lumad people in Mindanao and what happened to them during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

The photos of the Lumad people from the recent #Manilakbayan are by Loi Manalansan and Bryan Gonzales. The painting above on the other hand is by Federico "BoyD" Dominguez and titled Talabok.

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From Al Raposas, The Young Filipino Historian Blog:

Lumad is a Visayan (in particular, Cebuano) term which means “native” or “indigenous.” Lumad is a loose category referring to 18 Mindanao ethnic groups including Manobo, B’laan (Bilaan), Higaunon (Higaonon), Subanun (Subanen), Mamanwa (Mamaw), Bagobo, Mandaya (Mangwanga), and T’boli (Tagabili).

Although, only 15 of the 18 ethnic groups recognize their category as Lumad to distinguish themselves from the Muslim or Christian Mindanao peoples. The Lumad population had accounted for 7% of the total Mindanao population in 1975.

Lumad opposition mainly grew from two elements: the land and the water.

It was not only the Muslims who were affected by the mass migrations from Luzon and Visayas, which were even sponsored by the Philippine government. The Lumads, who had been traditionally occupying the land, had to confront land claims of both Christian migrants and the Moros. During the Marcos administration, most of the land had been concentrated on the few rich, and Christian, families of Mindanao favored by the government.

To mention a few, the Zamboanga-based Lorenzo-Lobregat family, with Eduardo Cojuangco and Juan Ponce Enrile, established control of the Mindanao coconut industry. They are also into the banana business, owning some 7,000 hectares of banana plantations. Another was the Floirendo family. They built the Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation (TADECO) in Davao, which would soon become the largest producer and exporter of bananas in the Philippines. The total area of plantations owned by the Floirendos was around 8,500 hectares.

Logging concessions were also given by the administration to favored corporations. By 1979, 5 million hectares (50,000 square kilometers) of land in Mindanao were covered by these concessions. That is, at a time when the available commercial forest area stood only at 3.92 million hectares. The area covered by logging concessions formed half of the entire Mindanao Island.

...

NAPOCOR pushed for the construction of seven dams that would form the Agus Power Plant Complex along the Agus River in Lanao. This began with the expansion of the Maria Cristina Hydroelectric Power Plant from 1967 to 1973. This would later be known as Agus VI. In 1975, construction of Agus II began. It was finished by 1979. Soon, Agus I, IV, and VII began to be constructed in that same year. Construction of Agus V began in 1980.

...

Conflict in the two aforementioned categories had threatened the Lumad ancestral domain. Lands that were heavily concentrated to affluent Christian families (cronies) had covered many, if not most, of these ancestral domains. The tendency of the dams to flood the surrounding lands also threatened the Lumad ancestral domain. Indeed, the Lumad regard ancestral land as vital to their identity and heritage. Also, the Lumad had expressed their economic dependence to the land.

lumad_Bryan-Gonzales_UP-Aperture

Return of the Undead

(This post is from Luis Teodoro's Vantage Point column at Business World and also posted in Bulatlat. This photo on the other hand is of a mural at the Hiraya Gallery.)

Mural Martial Law

Filipinos will mark the day of the dead — All Saints’ Day — this Sunday. Thanks to the power of the media, it’s a holiday whose eve is morphing into a mongrel version of Halloween, as that Western tradition has been portrayed in Hollywood movies and TV shows.

The children of middle class and wealthy families now go out on “trick-or-treat” sorties, though of course only in gated communities, where the houses are suitably decked out in jack-o-lanterns, zombie and vampire figures, and glow-in-the-dark plastic skeletons.

It’s mostly all in fun in the US and other Western countries, where Halloween or All Hallows eve has become less the night before visits to the tombs of one’s loved ones and more of a commercial event, but which nevertheless resonates with the futile attempt to exorcise the terrors of death.

Costumes are as much a part of the celebration of Halloween in these parts as in the US, the most popular nowadays, again because of the media, particularly TV, being gussied up as zombies and vampires. The zombie and vampire shows and movies know no season, however. They’re around throughout the year, and — for shows about the undead — have lives of their own.

In trying to account for the popularity of zombie and vampire TV shows and movies, some social psychologists have suggested that they’re manifestations of otherwise unexpressed underclass hopes for vengeance against their so-called betters, the zombies representing, says one observer of the culture industry, worker hopes for the collapse of an oppressive social order.

If that sounds like wishful thinking, it most probably is — and even more so in the Philippines, where the undead aren’t so much the representatives of the oppressed as the oppressors themselves who suck the blood out of their victims.

And then there are the politicians.

The undead of the Philippine political class are of two types: those who’ve been around for decades and decades, defying aging and death through stem cell treatments if not through the ingestion of blood, and those who are cloned and reincarnated in the political system from generation to generation in the persons of their children and grandchildren, or their wives, brothers and sisters, or other kin.

Which helps explain why the issues of Philippine politics and governance, like some political personalities, are reincarnations of themselves, “walkers” risen and rising from the dead like the zombies and vampires that populate some of the most currently popular shows in both cable and free TV as well as the movies (such as, for example, The Walking Dead, True Blood, and their local counterparts, among them that perennial movie horror, Shake, Rattle and Roll).

Corruption is one issue that refuses to die, despite the Aquino III administration’s grandiose claims about its having been finally slain. Apparently no stake has been hammered into its heart, since it’s constantly materializing in such forms as ghost flood control projects and those trillions in unprogrammed Franken-riches otherwise known as pork barrel funds.

But it’s the decision of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago to team up with Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. that has recently revived speculations about a literally unburied issue: what to do with the corpse of Marcos, Sr., and beyond that, the undying Marcos issue that still haunts us all.

Should she become President, did Defensor-Santiago commit to a hero’s burial for the senior Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani in exchange for those lovely bloc votes from the so-called “solid North” over which the Marcoses supposedly still have command?

Apparently it still matters, although it shouldn’t. The country has after all gone through this before, not only once but several times. The first was when Marcos, Sr. died in Hawaii, and the Corazon Aquino administration denied him a heroes’ burial; the second, third fourth and fifth during the presidencies of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and the sixth during the current administration which similarly rejected his being buried in the Libingan.

But this is only one manifestation of how the Marcos issue itself refuses to die. At least twice each year — in February when the EDSA civilian-military mutiny of 1986 is commemorated, and again in September during the anniversary of the declaration of martial law — someone is sure to argue that EDSA was a failure and things were better during the senior Marcos’ 21-year reign (1965-1986).

No silver bullet has ended the decades-long debate provoked by these occasions over whether it was better or worse during the Marcos dictatorship, even as, this year among all years, the candidacy of Marcos, Jr. has driven the debate to greater heights and even more absurd claims.

Every thinking Filipino should by now realize that the reason why the country can’t lay that ghost to rest is the absence of a thorough inquiry into that dark period — an inquiry that could have told the people of this country what the dictatorship was all about, how it savaged the entire nation, and how it set the country’s development back by decades. Instead, new media posts in Facebook and Twitter demonstrate abysmal levels of ignorance about the period, with some even claiming that Marcos was a visionary as well as a historian and an authentic Filipino intellectual, whereas he was merely clever.

Without an authoritative inquiry — an authentic Truth Commission — what happened from 1972 to 1986, as well as the consequences of that period, will continue to be debated and issues related to it that should have been settled years ago perpetually argued. The lessons that should be drawn from that period have remained unlearned, and with the passage of time, what martial rule did to the country will either be forgotten, or subjected to historical revision and even prettified, like a corpse yielding to the embalmer’s art.

That indeed is what’s happening, as Marcos, Jr. campaigns for the Vice-Presidency and eventually runs for President in 2022 in the belief that most of the people especially the young have never understood what his father’s rule was all about, and in the hope that those who do will eventually forget.

The Marcos regime can yet rise again. Although in this country of corruption and human rights violations — of ghosts and goblins, of zombies, vampires and other blood suckers was it ever really dead?

Boying Pimentel: Filipinos Remembering Why We Need to Say #NeverAgain

(This is a repost of the Boying Pimentel's Inquirer column titled "Never Again is not just about Marcos". Photo from J. A. Ellao of Bulatlat.)

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Bongbong Marcos’ bid to become vice president turned the spotlight on the slogan many Filipinos embraced after the fall of his late father’s dictatorship: “Never Again.”

Some views on this battle cry have been downbeat.

“We can’t really say #NeverAgain to something that never went away in the first place,” the novelist Clinton Palanca wrote in Spot.PH.

Inquirer columnist Oscar Franklin Tan in a column that he calls a parody of and homage to my essay, “To young Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship” — Oscar’s title was “To old Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship” — argued, “‘Never Again’ is merely rejection. It is incomplete because it builds nothing and leaves revisionism and disenchantment to fill the void. “

We’ll circle back to these viewpoints later. But first, a reminder: “Never Again” is not a Filipino original. We borrowed it from other nations.

In fact, two weeks after Bongbong’s announcement, news broke on two countries where “Never Again” is an even more powerful battle cry.

Reacting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bizarre suggestion that Arab Muslims were, in fact, responsible for the Holocaust, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared: “We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

“This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way,” she added.

In Germany, the Philippines and other countries, “Never Again” is about painful histories that must never be forgotten.

At the former Dachau concentration camp in Germany, “Never Again,” written in five languages, is emblazoned on one wall of the former concentration camp, a reminder of six million people murdered by the Nazis.

In Argentina, the “Nunca Mas” or “Never Again” Report released in 1983 documented the reign of terror of military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Brazil, where military regimes tortured and abused thousands, including current President Dilma Rousseff, a human rights group working on behalf of victims and their families calls itself Grupo Tortura Nunca Mas — Torture Never Again.

“Never Again” became popular shortly after Marcos was overthrown in the popular uprising in 1986. The Marcos nightmare has been documented in books and documentaries.

In 1992, a memorial center honoring the victims of the Marcos dictatorship and those who led and joined the fight against the regime opened in Quezon City.

The Bantayog ng Mga Bayani — Monument to the Heroes — features a black granite, called the Wall of Remembrance, where the names of hundreds of heroes and martyrs are inscribed.

“We shall proclaim our firm resolve to keep faith with our martyrs and heroes and our deepest conviction that this land of the morning, the repository of our hopes and dreams, is worth living for and dying for,” Jovito Salonga, one of the prominent leader of the anti-dictatorship struggle and one of Bantayog’s founders, said.

On the Bantayog site, one of the links to the museum’s articles reads: “Never Forget.”

Bongbong Marcos wants Filipinos to forget.

In fact, he wants to go beyond forgetting: Marcos Jr. denies that the reign of terror ever happened.

Which is why his candidacy is both a threat and an opportunity.

I fully endorse the view that we should not blame children for their parent’s crimes. Bongbong has the right to say, “I’m not my father.”

But he’s gone beyond that many times. He has painted the Marcos years as a time of peace, prosperity and happiness, smugly rejects allegations of torture and plunder during the 21 years when his father was in power.

Bongbong Marcos is waging a campaign based on distortions and denial of a dark chapter when one ruler enjoyed absolute power.

If we forget that, it could happen again.

And I’m not talking about the return to power of anyone named Marcos. “Never Again” is not just about Marcos. It’s not just about one family.

It’s about keeping alive the most important lesson of the Marcos regime: That we should not readily believe individuals or political forces seeking absolute power, arguing that only they have the answers to the country’s problems.

Which brings us back to Palanca’s argument that #NeverAgain refers to a family, a problem, a curse that never went away.

That’s not really true. Yes, The roots of the problem, the system that made it possible for a Marcos to grab power and abuse it for two decades, are still there.

But something despicable did go away, something awful did end when Marcos fell: fascist rule.

This is a point we need to stress, especially to young Filipinos: Marcos enjoyed absolute power. He and his allies could do anything during the regime.

And we ended that. We defeated a fascist ruler. We ended a system in which one man and his cohort could get away with murder and plunder.

It’s true that corruption, political abuse and poverty did not end with the fall of Marcos.

But there’s one thing we’ve never had to endure since the dictator was ousted: We never had to deal with a leader who held on to power for more than 20 years and who assumed he could stay in power forever.

We’ve never had to deal with a president who rigged one election after another, who shut down newspapers and TV stations simply because he didn’t like what they were saying about him, who arbitrarily threw critics of his regime in prison and who was so full of himself he had a giant bust of himself built on a major highway.

We defeated a tyrant and a bully and we need to defend that the victory. We need to hold that line.

Otherwise it could happen again.

Oscar Franklin Tan called “Never Again” incomplete, saying, “it builds nothing and leaves revisionism and disenchantment to fill the void.” Hard to argue with that, despite the efforts of such organizations as Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, not enough has been done to explain what Marcos did to the country, especially to the youth.

“And it is our fault; we are to blame,” Palanca wrote. “The fault is ours for not telling the story of the nightmares of dictatorship as thoroughly as we should have.”

But as I said, Bongbong’s “my-father’s-murderous-reign-didn’t-really- happen” campaign is also an opportunity.

The phrase “Martial Law” trended on Twitter the week he announced his candidacy. Membership in the Never Again site on Facebook has risen sharply,

In social media and beyond, Marcos Jr.’s bid for power has turned the spotlight on the way Marcos Sr. abused his power.

Instead of forgetting, Filipinos are remembering why we still need to say, “Never Again.”

The Return of the Marcos Nightmare

(Here's a repost of Amando Doronila's Inquirer column last October 19, 2015 which was also published in StraitsTimes.)

(INQUIRER CAPTION) VP HOPEFUL Controversial politicians (from left), former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (right), raise the hands of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. Bongbong declared his vice presidential bid during a proclamation rally in Intramuros, Manila, on Saturday. RAFFY LERMA/INQUIRER

(INQUIRER CAPTION) VP HOPEFUL Controversial politicians (from left), former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (right), raise the hands of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. Bongbong declared his vice presidential bid during a proclamation rally in Intramuros, Manila, on Saturday. RAFFY LERMA/INQUIRER

ON SEPT. 23, the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines by President Ferdinand Marcos, Filipinos were stunned to read on the front page of their newspapers, flaunting the picture of the leading functionaries of the martial law regime assembled on a stage, that Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the dictator’s son, was running for the vice presidency in the 2016 elections.

The picture showed former first lady Imelda Marcos and former Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, the martial law administrator, gloating and unrepentant for their roles in that darkest hour of Philippine democracy.

It was a wrong time for the Marcos heirs to reappear in the spotlight, and for Bongbong Marcos to proclaim his vice presidential bid. Their return to the front page was a cynical display of their attempt to revise the history of martial law, rehabilitate their image and blot the stigma of martial rule on the Marcos regime.

To most Filipinos who suffered the rigors of the dictatorship for 14 years, the imposition of martial law was a day of infamy, not an event to remember with triumphalist commemoration by the Marcos family and their cohorts.

Insensitivity

Outside of that stage, memories of the victims of atrocities and abuses of the military-backed regime flooded the press, speaking of the realities under martial law.

Nothing could match the contempt and insensitivity of the Marcos heirs to the democratic tradition than their own commemoration of the event in which they announced they were back on the center stage of Philippine politics, returning from disgrace and exile in Hawaii after they had been driven out by the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986, with impunity and without being punished for the colossal corruption and pillage of the nation’s wealth and for the deaths of and atrocities committed against thousands of regime opponents, both from the left and the center.

In the presentation of Bongbong’s aspirations for no less than the second-highest office in the land, the Marcos family swept under the carpet all the sordid records of human rights abuses and violations and judicial investigations into the looting and “crony capitalism” of the martial law regime.

History falsified

The first fraud foisted by Marcos on the Filipino people when he imposed martial law to launch his New Society, against the background of military marches, was that he falsified history. He signed Proclamation No. 1081 on Sept. 21, l972, placing the Philippines under martial law. The proclamation was announced on national television on Sept. 23. By that time, troops had raided and shut down Congress and newspaper offices and arrested 200 targets, mostly opposition leaders and critical journalists.

Throughout the martial law period, Marcos perpetuated the myth that Sept. 21 was the date of the foundation of his New Society. The propaganda effort succeeded in deluding the Filipino people that martial law was proclaimed on Sept. 21, 1972. It was not.

In reality, a week before the actual declaration, a number of people, including journalists, had received information that Marcos had already drawn up a plan to completely take over the government and gain absolute power.

In fact, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., in a privilege speech on Sept. 13, exposed what he called Oplan Sagittarius. He disclosed that he had received a top secret plan by Marcos to place Metro Manila and outlying areas under control of the Philippine Constabulary as a prelude to martial law.

Marcos was going to use a series of bombings in Metro Manila, including the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, as justification for his takeover and subsequent authoritarian rule. In his diaries, Marcos wrote on Sept. 14, 1972, that he informed the military that he would proceed with the proclamation of martial law. The US Embassy knew as early as Sept. 17 about Marcos’ plans.

Martial law study

In his memoir, then Justice Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile recalled that on a late afternoon in December 1969, Marcos instructed him to study the presidential powers as Commander in Chief under the 1935 Constitution. Marcos made the instruction as he “foresaw” the “escalation of violence and disorder in the country.” He ordered that the “study must be done discreetly and confidentiality.”

At about the same time, Marcos also instructed Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor and Brig. Gen. Jose Almonte to study how martial law was implemented in different parts of the world. Marcos wanted to know the consequences of declaring martial law. The result of their study stated that “while martial law may accelerate development, in the end, the Philippines would become a political archipelago, with debilitating, factionalized politics.”

Almonte recalled that the findings led to the conclusion that “the nation would be destroyed because, apart from the divisiveness it would cause, martial law would offer Marcos absolute power, which would corrupt absolutely.”

By the end of January 1970, Enrile, with the help of Efren Plana and Minerva Gonzaga Reyes, submitted the only copy of the confidential report on the legal aspects and extent of martial law to Marcos. A week later, Marcos summoned Enrile and instructed him to prepare the documents for the implementation of martial law.

On May 8, 1972, Marcos wrote that he had instructed the military to update its plans, including the list of personalities to be arrested, and had met with Enrile to finalize the paperwork.

On Aug. 1, 1972, Marcos met with a few of his most trusted military commanders to discuss tentative dates for the declaration of martial law—to fall within the next two months. The dates they considered either ended in 7 or were divisible by 7, which Marcos considered his lucky number.

'They Didn't Only Hoard Shoes'

(This is a November 30, 2012 essay of Juan L. Mercado for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

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“THEY DIDN’T only hoard shoes,” Daily Telegraph culture editor Martin Chilton wrote. “Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda amassed an art collection, paid for with stolen funds.” Today, 146 masterpieces—including works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Magritte and Brueghel the Younger—are missing.

The Manhattan District Attorney has indicted Imelda Marcos’ former personal secretary and two nephews—Vilma Bautista, now 74, and nephews Chaiyot Jansen, 37, and Pongsak, 40, both surnamed Navalaksana—for selling Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nymphéas” for $32 million. The London buyer had reservations on who the real owners were, according to the indictment. The Monet sale went through on Sept. 14, 2010.

From the proceeds, Bautista funneled $28 million into her bank account. Two real estate brokers got a $4-million commission and a $5-million slab went to the two nephews. “Chaiyot … sent an e-mail, after the sale, to a coconspirator, saying his aunt wanted him to meet with his brother to give him a bundle of caaaaaaaaassshhhh,” the indictment added.

Bautista, who now walks with a cane, is also accused of peddling: Monet’s “L’Église et La Seine à Vétheuil” (1881), Alfred Sisley’s “Langland Bay” (1887), and Albert Marquet’s “Le Cyprès de Djenan Sidi Said” (1946), known as “Algerian View.”

Aunt and nephews face conspiracy raps. Lodged against Bautista and Chaiyot is a charge of failing to report income from the Monet sale. Released on a $175,000 bond, Bautista faces up to 25 years in prison. If convicted, her nephews could get four years in the slammer. Will authorities succeed in getting them to New York from Bangkok?

Newspapers from the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, Honolulu Star Advertiser, to Brisbane Times reported the indictments. “Much of the bounty and privilege the Marcoses acquired in years of power … disappeared with the fog of revolution,” the Australian daily said.

From 1966 to 1986, Bautista held a $3,000-a-month first-secretary post at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations. In fact, she served as Imelda’s eyes and ears and factotum for Marcos functions at the 16-bedroom Lindenmere house on Long Island. She acted as bag lady for “shopping sprees.”

This Oct. 13, 1977, entry appears in “Chronology of the Marcos Plunder” compiled by Charlie Avila: “Today, after addressing the UN General Assembly, Imelda celebrated by going shopping and spending $384,000 including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies; $50,000 for a diamond bracelet; and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds. The day before, Vilma Bautista, one of her private secretaries, paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds; $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds; and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.”

A US federal court (9th Circuit) earlier whacked Imelda and her son Ferdinand Jr. (Bongbong) with a daily fine of $100,000. They tried to secretly ship out of the United States paintings and other artworks, from court-contested holdings, for a 25-percent, tax-free share. When the contempt order expired, the tab totaled $353.6 million.

Where do Vilma Bautista and nephews come from? To understand, browse through “A Dynasty on Steroids” written by Jackie Dent, available on the Net.

“Dry, sleepy, tobacco-growing Ilocos Norte remains Marcos territory, as it has been since 1949”—although the Marcos regime killed more than 3,200 people, tortured 35,000, and incarcerated 70,000. That surpassed even the brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.

The Laurel clan runs Batangas, the Osmeñas (used to monopolize) Cebu, etc. Do the Marcoses merely perpetuate the oligarchic politics that plagues the country? “I always find ‘return to politics’ a misnomer,” Ferdinand Jr. snaps. “We never left.” Or, as Imelda’s daughter Imee remarks drolly: “It is nepotism plus plus, a dynasty on steroids.”

Does a Marcos have to run all the time? “It’s the whole Filipino system—they really count on you, they have all these expectations,” Imee says. “Your family is taking care of their family, which is taking care of your family, and it just goes on and on and on. It’s pretty feudal in the Philippines still, even though we like to fool ourselves.”

That includes Bongbong? “He seems to think that his family did nothing wrong and has nothing to apologize for. He says they have either won cases or they have been dismissed… We have a judgment against us in the billions. What more would people want? That we open our veins and die before them? Is that the solution? … History will be the best judge of the family.”

Benito Mussolini was executed outside an Italian villa; Gaddafi died in the desert, killed by rebels; Robert Mugabe and Castro will probably die in power. “Why are Filipinos so willing to embrace the Marcos family again?” Dent wonders.

Filipinos have a “soft, forgiving culture,” notes former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in his book “From Third World to First”—“Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics.”

“Your brother [Bongbong] says that politics is the national sport here,” Dent tells Imee. She replies: “It’s not very sporting, though. No fair play, no rules, very movable goal posts. Not quite right as a sport. It is better as something else. Vaudeville, maybe?”

Spell that as caaaaaaaaassshhhh.

Asian Journal: Chronology of the Marcos Plunder

(This Chronology is compiled by Charlie Avila and originally published in 2012 at the Asian Journal San Diego.)

ferdieandbongbong

September 1976, the Marcoses bought their first property in the U.S. - a condo in the exclusive Olympic Towers on Fifth Avenue in New York . Five months later they would also buy the three adjoining apartments, paying a total of $4,000,000.00 for the four and using Antonio Floirendo’s company, The Aventures Limited in Hong Kong, as front for these purchases.

October 13, 1977 Today, after addressing the UN General Assembly, Imelda celebrated by going shopping and spending $384,000 including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies; $50,000 for a diamond bracelet; and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds.

The day before, Vilma Bautista, one of her private secretaries, paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds; $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds; and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.

October 27, 1977 The Marcoses donated $1.5 million to Tufts University in Boston, endowing a professorial chair in East Asian and Pacific Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The students and professors discovered this and forced the school to reject the donation. To save face, the Marcoses were allowed to finance several seminars and lectures.

November 2, 1977 Still at her shopping spree, Imelda paid $450,000 for a gold necklace and bracelet with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds; $300,000 for a gold ring with emeralds and diamonds; and $300,000 for a gold pendant with diamonds, rubies, and thirty-nine emeralds.

July 1978 After a trip to Russia, Imelda arrived in New York and immediately warmed up for a shopping spree. She started with paying $193,320 for antiques, including $12,000 for a Ming Period side table; $24,000 for a pair of Georgian mahogany Gainsborough armchairs; $6,240 for a Sheraton double-sided writing desk; $11,600 for a George II wood side table with marble top - all in the name of the Philippine consulate to dodge New York sales tax.

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That was merely for starters.

A week later she spent $2,181,000.00 in one day! This included $1,150,000 for a platinum and emerald bracelet with diamonds from Bulgari; $330,000 for a necklace with a ruby, diamonds, and emeralds; $300,000 for a ring with heart-shaped emeralds; $78,000 for 18-carat gold ear clips with diamonds; $300,000 for a pendant with canary diamonds, rubies and emeralds on a gold chain.

After New York, she dropped by Hong Kong where a Cartier representative admitted it was this Filipina, Imelda, who had put together the world’s largest collection of gems - in 1978.

May 1979 The Marcos couple celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in a party that cost $5,000,000.00 There was a silver carriage drawn by eight white horses.

November 23, 1978 A house was purchased at 4 Capshire Drive in Cherry Hill , New Jersey (actually near to Philadelphia where Bongbong was taking courses at that time) for use by servants and Bongbong’s security detachment. The Marcoses did not neglect their annual real estate purchase. During this year and next year, 1979, they purchased two properties - one at 3850 Princeton Pike, Princeton - a 13-acre estate for use by daughter Imee as she attended Princeton.

The other was a house at 19 Pendleton Drive in Cherry Hill for use of Bongbong and under the name of Tristan Beplat, erstwhile head of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.

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April 1979 in two days in New York this month, Imelda spent $280,000 for a necklace wet with emeralds and diamonds; $18,500 for a yellow gold evening bag with one round cut diamond; $8,975.20 for 20-carat gold ear clips with twenty-four baguette diamonds; $8,438.10 for 18-carat gold ear clips with fifty-two tapered baguette diamonds; and $12,056.50 for 20 carat gold ear clips with diamonds.

June 1980 For $1,577,000.00 in New York Imelda buys Webster Hotel on West 45th Street. She rewards Gen. Romeo Gatan as a limited partner. Gatan arrested Ninoy at the beginning of Martial Law. The insurgents’ ranks grew by twenty percent a year. . Meritorious officers in the armed forces experienced low moral due to Marcos’ penchant for promoting friends over more deserving officers.

February 16, 1986 In Fe’s records of monies paid out during Marcos’ last campaign, one unusually large item was authorized by “FL” (First Lady) and paid to Assemblyman Arturo Pacificador on this day. A few days later, two carloads of men drove into San Jose , the provincial capital of Antique.

Evelio Javier, head of Aquino’s campaign, was watching the votes being counted when the men opened fire and killed Evelio after he was still able to run through town but finally got cornered in a public toilet where he was gunned down in front of shocked townspeople. Pacificador was later convicted of the murder.

February 25, 1986 Marcos fled the Philippines leaving behind a foreign debt of $27 billion and a bureaucracy gone mad. “Cash advances” for the elections from the national treasury amounted to Php 3.12 billion ($150 million). The Central Bank printed millions of peso bills, many with the same serial number. Sixty million pesos in newly printed bills were found in a vehicle owned by Imelda’s brother Bejo in the Port Area of Manila, and another Php 100 million aboard the MV Legaspi also owned by Bejo Romualdez.

How massive and humongous a loot Marcos took can be deduced from the known losses he left behind. The known losses he left at the Central Bank included $1.2 billion in missing reserves and $6 billion in the Special Accounts.

Imelda charged off most of her spending sprees to the PNB or Philippine National Bank which creatively wrote off her debts as “unresponded transfers”.

Ver also used PNB funds to finance his “intelligence” operations.

The known losses at the PNB amounted to Php72.1 billion.

At the DBP, the losses Marcos left behind totaled Php85 billion; at the Philguarantee, it was Php 6.2 billion; and at the NIDC or National Investment and Development Corporation (NDC) - the losses amounted to Php 2.8 billion.

These losses were primarily due to cronyism - giving loans to cronies that had little or no collateral, whose corporations were undercapitalized, whose loan proceeds were not used for the avowed purpose, and where the practice of corporate layering was common, i.e. using two or more companies with the same incorporators and officers, whereby one company which gives the loan owns the company which obtains the loan, or similar arrangements.

The cronies enjoyed their closeness to Marcos. With him they formed a Grand Coalition. They participated in the exercise of dictatorship. But Marcos owned them. The wealth of the cronies belonged to him. Because of the free rides taken by Imelda, Marcos and the cronies, the Philippine Airlines was in debt by $13.8 billion.

The conservative Grand Total for losses Marcos left behind (and therefore the kind of loot he grabbed and hid) amounted to $17.1 billion. The Central Bank, the PNB, and other financial institutions badly need an audit. The special review (not regular audit because there seems not to have been any - there are no records anyway) did not uncover Imelda’s spending - her name never appeared - and Ver’s intelligence fund. The review gave no hint of theft or missing money, only “downward adjustments” and “proposed adjustments” to “deficiencies” and “shortages of money”.

February 26, 1986 A few hours after the Marcos party landed in Honolulu, their luggage arrived - 300 crates on board a C-141 cargo jet. It took twenty-five customs officers five hours to tag the bags and identify the contents. The process was videotaped because of all the money and jewelry found inside.

There were 278 crates of jewelry and art worth an estimated US$5 million. Twenty-two crates contained more than Php27.7 million in newly minted currency, mostly hundred-peso denominations worth approximately US $1,270,000. 00 (It was illegal at that time for anyone to depart the Philippines carrying more than Php500 in cash.)

There were other certificates of deposit from Philippine banks worth about US$1 million, five handguns, 154 videotapes, seventeen cassette tapes, and 2,068 pages of documents - all of which were impounded by Customs.

The Marcos party was allowed to keep only US$300,000.00 in gold and $150,000.00 in bearer bonds that they brought in with their personal luggage because they declared them and broke no US customs laws.

There were 24 one-kilo gold bars fitted into 2 0$17,000 hand-tooled Gucci briefcase with a solid gold buckle and a plaque on it that read, “To Ferdinand Marcos, from Imelda, on the Occasion of our 24th Wedding Anniversary.”

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February 1986 When Marcos departed the Philippines, the losses in the three Central Bank accounts surpassed Php 122 billion (more than $6 billion). The big bulk of losses was attributed to the RIR account mainly due to two items: forward cover and swap contracts.

Forward cover referred to foreign exchange provided by the CB at a fixed exchange rate to importers of essential commodities. Swap contracts referred to CB’s receiving foreign exchange from banks in exchange for pesos at the prevailing rate with a promise to deliver the foreign exchange back to them at an agreed future date. There was no mention of losses due to CB transactions in gold or foreign exchange.

February 28, 1986 On this day, Jim Burke, security expert from the US Embassy, was tapping on the wooden paneling in Imelda’s abandoned Malacanang bedroom when he heard a hollow sound. It was the walk-in vault. Inside were thirty-five suitcases secured with locks and tape.

They contained a treasure trove of documents about Swiss bank accounts, New York real estate, foundations in Vaduz , and some notepaper on which Marcos had practiced his William Saunders signature. They also contained jewelry valued at some US$10.5 million.

March 16, 1986 Did Marcos steal any gold from the CB? The CB always refused to comment. Why?
Today, the LA Times reported that 6.325 metric tons of gold was unaccounted for in the Central Bank. Between 1978, the year Marcos ordered all gold producers to sell only to the CB, and end 1984, the Bureau of Mines reported that 124,234 pounds of gold were refined. But the CB reported receiving only 110,319 pounds during this same period.

That left a difference of 13,915 pounds (6.325 metric tons).

March 1986. Jokingly referring to themselves as the Office of National Revenge, a vigilante team led by Charlie Avila and Linggoy Alcuaz received a tip in the morning that Marcos’ daughter Imee had kept a private office in the suburb of Mandaluyong at 82 Edsa. They obtained a search warrant, then rushed to Camp Crame to pick up some soldiers.

After devising a plan, they boarded four cars and drove to the premises, arriving around midnight. The soldiers scaled a fence and sealed off the area. Avila , Alcuaz, and their men moved in and found documents in cardboard boxes, desks, and filing cabinets. Gunfire could be heard outside but it didn’t deter the search.

The documents revealed the names of offshore companies and overseas investments of Marcos and his cronies - a late link in the paper trail that had been started abroad by the teams of Avila, Steve Psinakis, Sonny Alvarez, Raul Daza, Boni Gillego, and Raul Manglapus.

March 09, 1986 A Greek-American, Demetrios Roumeliotes, was stopped at the Manila International Airport before he could leave with eight large envelopes stuffed with jewelry that he admitted belonged to Imelda - valued at US$4.7 million.

March 15, 1986 Ernie Maceda, Minister of Natural Resources, revealed today that some 7 to 14 tons of Philippine gold are sold to the Binondo Central Bank annually and then smuggled to Sabah , Malaysia - this gold being part of some 20 tons produced by 200,000 panners all over the country. Maceda’s query was whether part of the gold they produced was siphoned to the “invisible gold hoard of Ms. Imelda R. Marcos.”

“We deliver to the Central Bank,” the miners said. “If it happened (the siphoning), it happened in the Central Bank.”

Is it true that Marcos propagated the Yamashita myth to hide the fact that he looted the Central Bank, that its gold bars were melted down and recast in odd-size bars to make them look old (how does gold look old, anyway?). Marcos claimed that he “received the surrender of Gen. Yamashita” after a battle with his guerrilla outfit.

History has recorded that Yamashita surrendered to Lt. Co. Aubrey Smith Kenworthy and that there was no battle. Yamashita’s peaceful surrender had been arranged at least two weeks before the event.
In one entry in Marcos’ diary he noted, “I often wonder what I will be remembered for in history. Scholar? Military hero…?”

In a supreme irony, he did achieve what he so vainly sought - lasting fame - but not in the way he envisioned:

The largest human rights case in history - 10,000 victims.

Guinness Book of Records - the world’s greatest thief.

The largest monetary award in history - $22 billion.

September 30, 1986 Questioned by Philippine and US lawyers about his hidden wealth, Marcos took the Fifth Amendment 197 times. Imelda followed suit - 200 times.

December 1989 An American jury found the Marcos estate liable for $15 million in the killing of anti-Marcos activists Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo. Manglapus, Psinakis, Gillego and other erstwhile exile oppositionists testified at the trial.

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November 04, 1991 Today, a Sunday, the circus came to town. The Swiss Federal Tribunal had ruled the year before that the Philippine government must comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, especially due process. There had to be a lawsuit filed within one year. Thus, the solicitor general’s office filed all sorts of cases against Imelda and the government had to allow her to return to answer the charges.

“I come home penniless,” she tearfully said on arrival. She then repaired to her suite at the Philippine Plaza Hotel which cost $2,000 a day and rented sixty rooms for her entourage - American lawyers, American security guards and American PR firms.

December 1991 The Central Bank had accumulated losses of Php324 billion in the Special Accounts.
November 30, 1992. The Central Bank losses were Php561 billion and climbing. Cuisia asked that the CB be restructured. Sen. Romulo asked to see the 1983 audit of the international reserves. He couldn’t get a copy. It was “restricted”.

January 05, 1993 Imelda didn’t show up for the scheduled signing of a new PCGG agreement. She kept vacillating on the terms and conditions - demanding she be allowed to travel abroad for thirty-three days to confer with bank officials in Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong and Morocco to work out the transfer of the frozen funds.

Actually she was hoping a guy she had authorized, J.T.Calderon, would be able to move the funds just as the order was lifted, before the government had a chance to transfer them to Manila . When the government discovered the authority, all negotiations with Imelda were halted and her requests for travel suspended.

August 10, 1993 Georges Philippe, a Swiss lawyer of Imelda, wrote today a confidential letter to the Marcoses’ old Swiss lawyer, Bruno de Preux, who handled almost all of the Marcos family’s hidden accounts in Switzerland.

Philippe requested de Preux for the status of:

A $750 million account with United Mizrahi Bank in Zurich; Various currency and gold deposits at the Union Bank of Switzerland , at Kloten airport and at Credit Suisse; A $356 million account (now in escrow and worth almost $600 million) which was being claimed by the PCGG.

In 1994, the human rights jury awarded the victims $1.2 billion in exemplary damages, then $766.4 million in compensatory damages a year after that, for a total of $1.964 billion. Two days after, another $7.3 million was awarded to twenty-one Filipinos in a separate lawsuit.

In 1995, the US Supreme Court upheld the $1.2 billion judgment.

March 29, 1995 The Swiss Parliament passed a law (an amendment to a previous act) that removed the need for a final judgment of criminal conviction of the accused (such as the Marcoses) in the case of criminally acquired assets which could now therefore be returned to claimants (such as the Philippine government) by Swiss court order.

July 1996 In part because of the torture of Roger Roxas, $22 billion was awarded to his Golden Budha Corporation.

December 10, 1997 The Swiss Supreme Court promulgated a landmark decision that took into account the March 1995 Swiss Parliament act and the fact that new criminal cases had been filed against Imelda Marcos.

The court held that there was no need for any criminal proceeding; that a civil or administrative proceeding would suffice, and the Marcos Swiss deposits which had been “criminally acquired” can be returned to the Philippines in deference to the final judgment of the Philippine court as to the ownership of these deposits.

The Swiss court also announced that the interest and reputation of Switzerland was at stake if it would become a haven for money launderers laundering money obtained by crime. Therefore, in the case of the Marcos deposits, because “the illegal source of the assets in this case cannot be doubted” the Swiss court ordered that the money be returned to the

Philippines to be held in escrow account in the PNB to await the judgment of the Sandiganbayan in the forfeiture case.

By the way, in January 17, 1975, a secret decree not made public until after the Edsa insurrection was signed by Marcos stating that in the event he became incapacitated or died, power would be turned over to Imelda.

On June 7, 1975, in his own handwriting, Marcos amended the January 17th decree and clarified imelda’s role as chairperson of committee with presidential powers.

In February 1979, Imelda was named chairman of the cabinet committee, composed of all ministries, to launch the BLISS (Bagong Lipunan Sites and Services) program, an ambitious attempt to centralize control of all economic and social development. She assumed responsibility for the “11 needs of Man” codified in her ministry’s multi-year Human Settlements Plan,1978-2000.

By 1986, the number of Filipinos living below the poverty line doubled from 18 million in 1965 to 35 million. And the ecological balance of the country had degraded from 75 % to 27% forest cover remaining - with 39 million acres of forest falling victim to rampant logging. This was BLISS.
She was also the head of the Metro Manila Commission, which by year-end 1985 had managed to accumulate debts of Php 1.99 billion (which included $100 million in foreign loans) in its ten years of existence. Imelda had accomplished nothing and left the people embittered and even more disillusioned.
In September 1992 Marcos was found guilty of violating the human rights of 10,000 victims. The ruling occurred just after a judge found Imee Marcos-Manotoc guilty of the torture and murder of Archimedes Trajano, a 21 year old engineering student at Mapua who had the temerity to ask Imee after a speech she gave whether the Kabataang Barangay (a national youth group) “must be headed by the president’s daughter?”

Imee and brother Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. have been active in the political scene. Bongbong, who finished 3 terms as Ilocos Norte governor, is now running for Senator under Presidential bet, Manny Villar’s senatorial slate.. he’s been quoted as saying that if given a chance, he’d like to run for President one day...(gads).

Bongbong is now a Senator, Imelda is Governor of Ilocos Norte and Imee is in Congress. The MARCOSES are back in full force thanks to our “despicable amnesia” as aptly described by the eminent writer, F. Sionil Jose.

Bongbong Marcos Accountable for Many Other Things

(A consistent voice against corruption and abuse, Teddy is best known for upholding the rights of the poor and marginalized sectors as a three-term congressman of Bayan Muna Party-list from 2004-2013. This is from his personal blog.)

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True, Bongbong Marcos cannot be made to account for his father’s sins. He is just the son. He was a kid when his father imposed a corrupt and brutal dictatorship over the country. It is not his fault to be the son of Ferdinand and Imelda and to have grown up so used to the trappings of absolute power and shielded from the realities of ordinary Filipino lives.

But he is accountable for many other things. Let me count the ways:

  1. Agreeing to and taking part in his father’s corruption, human rights atrocities and other abuses when his family was in power.

  2. His continuing cover-up of his family’s ill-gotten wealth and complicity in various schemes to rob the Filipino people.

  3. His continued enjoyment of such wealth and its use to keep his family in power.

  4. His continued denial, despite facts, historical accounts and official documents, of the atrocities of his parent’s conjugal dictatorship.

  5. His insistence that his father’s decision to impose martial law and one-man rule was correct and that the Philippines never had it so good during this period.

  6. His lying about his Oxford degree.


Miriam Defensor Santiago might be ready to forget all these and move on. Eh di wow.

But not me. And hopefully, not the millions of Filipinos who don’t want another Marcos dictatorship.

'Ang Lamig Ng Baril Pala Pag Nasa Loob Ng Bunganga Mo'

(The following is a repost of a September 21, 2012 article published at GMA News Online, a sidebar to the coverage of the Himagsik at Protesta exhibit about Martial Law at the UP Library. Photo of Neri Colmenares with cousin Angel Locsin is from Noel Abuel of Abante Online.)



The man that faced the crowd at the launch of the Martial Law memorial exhibit, “Himagsik at Protesta,” last Sept. 14 was charismatic and jovial, beaming with an easy, inviting kind of confidence that befits a man of his position.

It didn’t register then that Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, the cheery man who captivated the crowd from the moment, was the same man who underwent torture and imprisonment in the time of Martial Law, which he himself described as the “darkest, most horrible and bloodiest chapter in Philippine history.”

Colmenares began his story light-heartedly enough, quipping that he was only a baby when Martial Law was declared.

“Bakit ako magsasabi ng totoo, hindi naman ako tino-torture?” he joked as the audience—composed of activists young and old—erupted in laughter.

In fact, Colmenares was in Grade 6 and only concerned about not having anything to watch on TV when Martial Law was declared. It was only when he entered high school that he gravitated towards activism. Influenced by then-Negros Bishop Antonio Fortich, one of Ferdinand Marcos’ vocal challengers, he joined the fight for human rights.

The congressman’s story turned grave when he shared that at 18 years old, he was arrested and tortured by members of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary.

“Gusto ipadakip siguro nina Marcos si Bishop Fortich, hindi naman kaya, so lahat ng mga subordinates niya , hinuli. Isa na ako dun,” Colmenares shared at the the launch of Karapatan’s “Himagsik at Protesta” exhibit.

“The first thing I noticed…they wanted to humiliate me,” he said, explaining that when he was first caught, he was made to strip naked and beaten with a ruler.

The torture was worse at night, he said.

“To think na on the third and the fourth day, they were not even trying to extract information from me kasi lahat that they wanted to know, nakuha na nila sa iba kong kasamahan,” Colmenares added, saying that when he wrote his confession, his torturers didn’t like it, so they made him eat the paper.

Colmenares said the torture went on for days, but worse than the physical abuse was the mental torture. He said the body goes numb after a few days, but the mind remains receptive.

Colmenares recalled how one of the torturers would make the prisoners squat while he carried a .45 pistol and kicked them randomly from behind.

“Ang nangyayari pala, ‘pag ginagawa sa ‘yo yan, every time he’s in front of you, magre-relax ka, ‘pag nasa likod siya, d’un ka kabahan. In the end, gusto mo tadyakan ka para lang ma-relieve ‘yung tension,” he said.

In another instance, the guard brought him and another detainee to a room, where they made him watch as they inserted wire into the other man’s genitals and electrocuted him.

“Sabi sa ‘kin, upo ka muna Neri ikaw sunod ah...siyempre nakikita ko dumudugo, tsaka ako ‘yung sunod ‘di ba…Grabe talaga ang feeling ko d’un,” Colmenares shared.

“Pero alam mo ang torture nakakapagod din…three hours ‘yung torture, mga ala-una ng umaga, napagod sila. Sabi nila, o Neri, bukas ka na, matulog ka muna. Siyempre, ‘di ako makatulog sa gabi…siyempre, ako ‘yung sunod the next day pero ‘di nila ginawa sa akin,” he added.

Instead, they transferred him to what he called the “headquarters”.

“Grabe yung impunity nung Martial Law. Headquarters eh, tino-torture ka sa gabi, makikita ka nila sa umaga sa mga rooms, mga tao, alam nilang tino-torture ka, pero walang sinasabi,” he said.

Russian roulette

He then shared how one of the guards engaged him in a game of Russian roulette, putting his gun into Colmenares’ mouth. At that point, the crowd had fallen dead silent, gripped by the story.

“Ang lamig ng baril pala pag nasa loob ng bunganga mo,” Colmenares said, his voice echoing across the hall.

According to him, the guard appeared to be drunk and asked him if he felt lucky. The guard then instructed Colmenares to say “Mao” while the gun was inside his mouth.

“Pagsabi kong ‘Mao,’ pinitik niya yung gatilyo. Pag nasa loob ‘yung baril ng bunganga mo, ang lakas ng tunog. Akala ko pumutok ‘yung baril eh. I could see my brain splattered there,” he said.

The guard then pulled the trigger a second time.

“‘Buenas ka talaga, Neri,’ sabi niya, you’re destined to live. Pwede ka na tumakas, umuwi ka na,” Colmenares recalled.

He knew, however, that if he left, he would have been killed. “Tinutulak niya ko palabas, ‘yung sofa na hawak-hawak ko, ‘di ko talaga binitawan. In the end, napagod din siya.”

Colmenares also shared how the guards became frustrated with one of his companions who did not crack even after four days of torture. According to him, they put him inside a drum and buried him alive.

“They could have shot them, they could have killed him, but no, they had to bury him alive for no purpose at all and for years alam mo ‘yung nanay niya, every time she sees me cries. ‘Yan ang problema sa desaparecido pala. Walang closure,” he said.

Pure luck

Why Colmenares survived the ordeal with his life was a matter of pure luck. According to him, the warden chose to keep him alive because his father worked in a bank and had endorsed the warden’s loan.

At that point, Colmenares had just been strangled by an officer so that his tonsils were damaged and he couldn’t breathe.

“In the end, dinaan ako sa bahay. Shocked ang mother ko to see her 18-year-old kid sa isang army truck, nakahiga. Dinala ako sa ospital, ‘yun na, the end of my torture,” he said.

After sharing his story, Colmenares enjoined the audience and especially the youth to continue the struggle against Martial Law, which he believes still exists somehow even today.

“Yung lesson dito, simple… the struggle has not ended…up to this time, 385 people languish in jail for their political beliefs… ‘yan ang isang di siguro dapat natin kalimutan,” Colmenares said.

He added, “I think the running thread today is Martial Law is still enforced in a way and that we have to continue the struggle to make sure that the darkest, most horrible and bloodiest chapter in Philippine history will never happen again.”

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