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Write and Tell the Truth

AUTHOR’S FATHER, Antonio Suzara, was incarcerated and tortured during Martial Law and mother Cecilia.

AUTHOR’S FATHER, Antonio Suzara, was incarcerated and tortured during Martial Law and mother Cecilia.

(Written by Jennifer Suzara-Cheng for TheFilAmLA and Inquirer.Net)

It all started with hushed tones and repressed messages in our household. There were furtive glances down the street; even the blaring radio stopped. Even as an 8-year-old I could feel that something was wrong. The silence was shattered by loud knocks on the front door, and then soldiers started walking into our home with their Armalites drawn ready to fire.

I could only see their muddy boots treading on our shiny wood floor. They went from room to room; I could hear noise from overturned beds and cushions being ripped apart. Then I saw one soldier cut open our new green living room set. Books were scattered carelessly from the bookcases, and drawers were opened, their contents thrown on the floor. Then one soldier with a lot of patches on his shoulder yelled and called everyone, he asked Mama where Papa was; she answered with a strong voice that she didn’t know.

I was standing beside my oldest sister and I could hear my heart pounding so loud in my head. I could smell gun powder, mud, sweat, fear and most of all danger. I was so scared for our lives and tried to stifle my tears, but they kept on pouring from my eyes, non-stop and soundless; they just kept on flowing until my shirt was soaked and I was too scared to either move or wipe them with my hands.

Then, I remember we rode a jeepney for so long I lost track of time. I woke up on a farm; it was the house of one of the tenants who graciously shared their two-bedroom home with us. Mama slept on the bed with my two younger sisters while my oldest sister and I slept on the bamboo floor with my two older brothers sleeping closest to the bedroom door.

I could hear unfamiliar noises at night, insects chirping, pigs grunting and dogs barking incessantly. Mama told us to very quiet and just try to sleep. In the morning I lost one of my rubber slippers, but I never complained and tried to stand on one foot alternately until one of our house help noticed and let me use hers; she walked barefoot.

Then, Mama told us that Papa, Antonio Suzara, was arrested for bad-mouthing President Ferdinand Marcos during a rally, so they charged him with “sedition and unauthorized possession of guns,” and he would be detained at the Philippine Constabulary Camp. He was a known supporter of Senator Benigno Aquino at that time. Papa was the administrative assistant to the Mayor in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, when Martial Law was imposed.

I never saw our house again. We had to move closer to the camp in a place without electricity and running water. We were informed that we were being watched and so we should be very careful what to say.

Our paternal grandfather Governor Fernando Argente Suzara (the first postwar governor of Camarines Norte) through his personal friend, Foreign Service Minister Carlos P. Romulo, was able to petition or beg Malacanang Palace to convert Papa’s jail time to house arrest. Later on I learned that his maternal uncle-in-law Congressman Pedro Venida helped out in his jail time conversion.

After a year, a military jeep stopped in front of the farm, and I saw Papa walking towards Lolo (my grandfather), escorted by two soldiers. He was carrying a plastic bag. His was head bowed and his eyes were dull and he looked broken. Lolo just stood there and then signed some documents from the soldiers and shook their hands. Lolo’s eyes were tender and sad; his posture looked like he was carrying a lot of Papa’s burden. They both stood there for a while until Lolo told Papa to rest for now. Papa was never the same, he never talked about what happened in jail nor did he mention it again.

I write this narrative with the permission of my siblings, who agreed to share our story with our countrymen because of the recent campaign from the Marcos’ camp that the atrocities of Martial Law, declared on September 21, 1972, did not happen.

There are countless articles of propaganda that brainwash the youth and attempt to rewrite history, and from a teacher’s perspective, I know this has to stop. It is important that those of us who were directly affected write and tell the truth.

True, it is not fair to judge the son with the crimes of the father, however, it is a miscarriage of justice to let the truth be covered by lies and falsehood.

It is the intent of my article to challenge the Marcoses to show remorse by not changing facts and, more importantly, to return the money that legitimately belongs to the Filipino people. If Senator Bong Bong Marcos can do all of these, then he will be ready to be separated from the legacy of his father; but until then NEVER AGAIN.

(Jennifer Suzara-Cheng teaches honors and AP biology courses at a nationally renowned environmental high school in Southern California. She was recently invited by the White House, among 200 outstanding teachers, students, scientists and philanthropists, to participate in its national Back-to-School Climate Education event.)

Read Books About Martial Law

From panalongindio:
Before you believe the notion that Martial Law had brought good to this country, make sure you have read these books. One of the authors, Primitivo Mijares, paid the book with his life. He was taken by the military and was never found, having revealed the secrets of the Marcos administration in his book. Some of the authors were senators, businessmen, journalists, including an American correspondent. #neveragain #history #martiallaw #ph #antirevisionist




Before you believe the notion that Martial Law had brought good to this country, make sure you have read these books. One of the authors, Primitivo Mijares, paid the book with his life. He was taken by the military and was never found, having revealed the secrets of the Marcos administration in his book. Some of the authors were senators, businessmen, journalists, including an American correspondent. #neveragain #history #martiallaw #ph #antirevisionist


A photo posted by Kristoffer Pasion (@panalongindio) on




The Edjop Center and the Gawad Edgar Jopson



Do you know that in recognition of Edjop's contribution to the country and raising the awareness of Filipino youth, the NUSP named their training center for student leaders as the Edjop Center.
EdJop Center

The National Union, being at the forefront of the student’s struggle for its rights and welfare aims to rouse socio-political consciousness of student leaders, to train and prepare them as they engage in different campaigns and activities, and for further introduction of the alliance. This is through the Edgar Jopson (EdJop) Training Center for Student Leaders, under our Education and Research Committee (EdRes).

The Edgar Jopson Education and Training Center comprises various discussions on skills training and social issues following the example of the young martyr, Edgar Jopson. Expected outputs of this activity are trained student leaders responsive to the twists and turns of the objective situations inside and outside the campus. This is to be able to teach them to be more critical and analytical.

The Education and Research Committee’s project and curriculum is named after Edgar Jopson as a tribute for his selfless martyrdom for the Filipino people and would serve as an inspiration to the youth to be more involved in building the nation. Crucial to this is active participation in discourse that would articulate the objective situation of the youth and other sectors, to be able to guide them in their practice.



An award recognizing exemplary student leadership is also named after Edgar Jopson.
Gawad Edgar Jopson

Edjop’s legacy remains to be a standard of genuine service and leadership. Today, student councils are challenged to continue Edjop’s legacy of advancing the collective welfare of the youth and the people.  Gawad Edgar Jopson was formed in recognition of the exceptional performance of student councils that embody the legacy of genuine service and leadership. These outstanding councils serve as examples to every Filipino student to stand firm for their collective interests and rights.

To learn more about Bantayog Martyr Edgar Jopson, read his biography here.

JOPSON, Edgar Gil "Edjop" Mirasol

jopson

One of the most well-known figures in the student movement before the martial-law period, Edgar Jopson was president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), then the largest student formation with members coming from 69 schools.

Jopson, widely known as Edjop, led the NUSP to become involved in current issues. When two barrios in Bantay, Ilocos Sur were burned down in a feud between local politicians, Edjop and his group went to get the terrified residents out of the area and housed them on campus until their safety was assured. Likewise, when huge floods in 1972 left large areas of Luzon underwater for weeks, Jopson solicited the support of government and business groups for a project where hundreds of youths went to reforest parts of the Sierra Madre mountains for several weekends, stopping only because martial law had been declared. It was the NUSP that initiated the massive rally held in front of the Congress building on January 26, 1970, as Marcos made his “state of the nation” address.

One memorable anecdote of that period was about Jopson and other student leaders going to Malacanang to dialogue with Marcos, soon after that rally. There the boyish Jopson insisted that the most powerful person in the land promise not to seek a third term of office, and to put it in writing. Angrily, Marcos refused to agree to such a demand from a mere “grocer’s son.”

At the time, the most hotly debated topic in the student movement was whether a radical/ revolutionary or a moderate/ reformist path was the better approach to social change. Jopson, who was popularly identified as a “moderate,” preferred to stress that in reality the two sides were united in their objectives. "Solutions to our problems may divide us but [such divisions] should never override the unifying need for these solutions. It is this need that unites us in the student movement; it is this need that unites us ultimately with other progressive sectors in our society," he said upon being honored by the Philippine Jaycees as one of the country’s Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1970.

After graduation, Jopson turned away from job opportunities here and abroad, choosing instead to work with the Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions. He took up law at the University of the Philippines, which he abandoned after a couple of years, convinced that the laws he was studying were for the rich. He remained with the labor movement, living among the workers and helping draft collective bargaining agreements. He was instrumental in organizing the landmark workers’ strike at La Tondeña distillery in 1974, the first significant open mass protest under martial law.

By this time, with the martial law regime closing off all avenues for peaceful change, Jopson had taken the radical path. He was soon a ranking leader of the anti-dictatorship revolutionary movement, tasked to head the preparatory commission for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. In 1979 he was arrested in Metro Manila and tortured while under interrogation. After ten days, he escaped and immediately rejoined the underground. He made a written testimony that detailed the physical and mental torture he underwent, his torturers' names, rank, and personality profiles.

In 1981, with a P180,000 prize on his head, making him then one of the most wanted persons in the country, Jopson simply went on with his work; he went to Mindanao, learning and writing, developing insights into the unique characteristics that shaped the region’s history and present situation.

On September 20, 1982, he was captured during a military raid in Davao City, shot while trying to escape, taken alive, brought to the military camp and interrogated. He refused to "cooperate" and was summarily executed the following day. He was 34 years old.

Edgar Jopson became a symbol of the modern idealistic Filipino youth who faced the realities of their time without flinching, gladly giving all, including their lives, for the country and the people.

JIMENEZ, Mary Bernard Virginia

jimenez mary bernard

To the numerous political detainees in the Marcos dictatorship’s jails, Sister Mary Bernard Jimenez was a welcome sight as she arrived under the heat of the sun, lugging heavy packages containing coffee, slippers, snacks, reading materials.

A motherly-looking woman whose sincerity and compassion won the hearts of activists and guerrilla fighters alike, they even came to call her “sister-comrade”: “Malayo ka pa – Kapatid-Kasamang Bernard – nakikita na kita.../Kulay lupa mong habito, sagisag ng pagkamakumbaba/ ‘Ya’y nagniningning kung tinatamaan ng sikat ng araw/ Tungo sa mga detenidong pulitikal.” (I can see you coming from afar, Sister-Comrade Bernard/ Dressed in the humble color of the earth/ Your habit shines in the sun as you draw nearer to us political detainees.)

Born Virginia Jimenez, Sister Mary Bernard, CM joined the Carmelite Missionaries soon after graduating with a degree in education in 1948. For decades she taught at various Carmelite schools, in the provinces (Batangas, Iloilo, Quezon) and in Quezon City.

When martial law was imposed, she was already in her fifties, but Jimenez became one of the earliest volunteers to work at Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a program organized in 1974 by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines. She became the TFDP coordinator for Metro Manila.

There was much work to be done, for the jails were full of persons who had been unjustly detained by the police and military. Jimenez was a very effective human rights worker. She cajoled and argued her way into detention camps, bringing with her food, medicine and handicraft materials for the prisoners. Her gentle ways and cheerful disposition disarmed the captors. She was often the first to bring a friendly word to political prisoners being held in isolation. She was a familiar figure to those who were imprisoned in Camp Crame, Camp Bagong Diwa (Bicutan Rehabilitation Center) in Bicutan and the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa, as well as Camp Olivas in Pampanga.

Jimenez gave special attention to prisoners who had few or no visitors. She tirelessly worked for their release papers, going the rounds of military and defense ministry offices. Through her efforts, they regained their freedom. Often the most difficult to visit and the hardest to have released were political prisoners in the maximum security prisons. She also gave them special attention.

Sr. Mary Bernard Jimenez was one of TFDP's most hardworking members. Fatigue, hunger and fear failed to stop her. Only cancer eventually did. Her death in 1984 was mourned by hundreds of political prisoners and human rights workers. She was 61 years old.

JIMENEZ, Ester Dolores M.

jimenez ester

Ester Dolores Misa Paredes Jimenez became involved in the anti-dictatorship struggle through her children, whom she had raised to be independent and to have minds of their own.

When her youngest son informed her in 1975 that he was intending to drop out of college in order to go fulltime in the underground, “…she held my hand and said, I am very proud of you. Then she shed some tears. It was the very first time and, I believe, the last time, I saw her cry. It was also the proudest moment of my life. That moment would repeatedly come back to inspire me to move on in spite of the difficulties.”

She opened her home to underground activities, including the production of revolutionary publications, and weekly meetings of activists. Her home became a refuge for wounded revolutionaries or those in hiding. On two occasions, she personally drove a wounded guerrilla to the hospital for treatment.

Earlier in her life, Jimenez was a widow who, at age 41, was left to raise and support 10 children by herself. Her first husband was Jess Paredes Jr., a lawyer and broadcaster who died in an airplane crash with President Ramon Magsaysay in 1957.

When martial law was imposed, her children were grown and she was already in her mid-60s. Still she became involved in urban guerrilla activities against the regime through the Light-A-Fire Movement, with her second husband Othoniel Jimenez. The members of this group were arrested in December 1979, among them Ester and her husband. After her release in 1981 she continued to visit him and the other detainees in the Bicutan jail to minister to their needs.

Members of the Light-a-Fire group, including Ester and Othoniel Jimenez, were sentenced to death by a military court in December 1984 but the sentence was never carried out. After the EDSA people power in 1986 and the abolition of the Marcos dictatorship, the Supreme Court nullified the death sentences.

Ester Jimenez was neither ideologue nor political leader, but she was a steadfast person who simply did what she believed was right. She gave generously of herself without expectation of reward or praise. Many came to call her "Mommy" in recognition of her good heart and selflessness.

She died in 1997 at the age of 81, after a long illness.

JAVIER, Evelio Bellaflor

javier

Evelio Javier was a bright young lawyer who at the age of 29 defeated an entrenched incumbent and became the youngest provincial governor in the Philippines. Throughout martial law he steadfastly maintained his political independence from the Marcos regime. This independence cost him his life.

Javier studied at the Ateneo, where he finished high school and college. He became president of the student council and while in law school, editor-in-chief of the Guidon.

Imbued with the idea that “politics is the concern of good and decent people,” he returned to Antique after having taught at the Ateneo for five years. He ran for governor, and won, serving for the next eight years despite his personal opposition to martial law.

“His first instinct was to resign,” recounted a friend, “but he was prevailed upon by his family, friends and supporters because everybody thought that martial law, being a temporary measure, was not going to last long. As it turned out, the temporary measure became a permanent way of life,” and he realized that “it was preferable for the Antiqueños to have a leader in such times than none at all.”

After that he declined to serve another term, and instead went to Harvard University to take up a master’s course in public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Shortly after Benigno Aquino’s assassination in 1983, Javier returned to the Philippines and ran for a seat in the Batasan (martial law parliament) as representative of Antique. Shortly before the elections, seven of his supporters were killed in an ambush. In what was seen as a sham election, the Marcos-aligned warlord Arturo Pacificador was proclaimed the winner. (At the Batasan, Pacificador would be chosen majority floorleader for the Marcos party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.)

Undeterred by this defeat, and despite threats to his life, Javier next focused his energies on campaigning for Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel who were facing President Marcos in the snap presidential elections set for the first week of February 1986. He played a key role in uniting the opposition behind Mrs. Aquino. He served as provincial chair of the Unido-Laban party.

Five days after the snap presidential elections, Javier was shot dead by hooded men in broad daylight and less than 100 meters away from the provincial capitol where election returns were being canvassed and tallied. The first volley wounded Javier but the assassins were able to corner and finish him off some distance away.

Seventeen persons, including Arturo Pacificador and his son Rodolfo, and a notorious ex-PC soldier, were indicted with the Ministry of Justice. The ex-assemblyman was arrested only in 1995, to be acquitted by the regional trial court in Antique for the prosecution’s failure (the court said) to establish Pacificador’s involvement in the murder.

Evelio Javier, 44, was killed at a time when public outrage was at its height against the Marcos dictatorship. In fact, just days later, Marcos with his family and close friends would be flown out of Malacanang to exile in Hawaii. Months later, in September 1986, the Supreme Court nullified the proclamation of Arturo Pacificador as congressman of Antique.

Javier’s body was flown to Manila where it lay in state at the Ateneo de Manila and served as rallying point for the forces which coalesced to become the EDSA people power. It was then flown back to Antique for burial. Provincemates mourned their young leader’s death in an epic funeral procession that ran the 160-kilometer length of the island of Panay.

JASUL, Ramon V.

jasul

Ramon Jasul was the fourth child of a middle-class family from Lucban, Quezon. He was bright and diligent and showed strong leadership qualities. He was corps commander in his senior year in high school and contributed to the high school paper, The Banahaw.

Jasul had a questioning mind, refusing to accept things as they are. “What is truth?” he asked. We must, he said, “try to learn the unknown.” He wanted to be a journalist. In his high school yearbook, he wrote: "The best use of a journal is to print the largest amount of important truth which tends to make mankind wiser, thus happier."

Enrolling at the Lyceum of the Philippines when student activism was at its height, Jasul joined a group called Samahang Molave. He was an ordinary member but active in its teach-ins, group discussions and seminars. He joined rallies and demonstrations, occasionally getting hit with truncheons; once he was detained for several hours at the police headquarters in Manila.

When the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in 1971, he left Lyceum and returned to Lucban. There, he organized the Bagong Kabataan ng Lukban (New Youth of Lucban), which he headed until martial law was declared in 1972.

Jasul went underground and continued to organize youth groups in his area, this time, directed against the new repressive regime. In 1973, his older brother Alfredo, who had also gone underground, was killed by PC troops in Tayabas, Quezon.

Ramon Jasul disappeared in July-August 1977, together with nine other activists: Cristina Catalla, Gerardo Faustino, Rizalina Ilagan, Jessica Sales, Modesto Sison, Emmanuel Salvacruz, Salvador Panganiban, Virgilio Silva and Erwin Dela Torre. Members of the 2nd Military Intelligence Group based in Southern Tagalog are suspected to be behind their disappearance. Only Sison's body has been found, buried anonymously in a common grave at a cemetery in Lucena City in March 1978.

Writing about her brother, Carmen Jasul said that his dream for the Philippines was for it to be prosperous, happy and free of violence: “Isa siya sa mga naghahangad ng isang lipunang masagana, maligaya at malaya sa anumang anyo ng pandarahas.”

ILAGAN, Rizalina P.

ilagan

Whatever she decided to do, Rizalina Ilagan excelled at it.

In school, she was always at the top of her class. Consistently, she would be chosen to attend conferences such as those held by the youth organizations Future Farmers of the Philippines or the Future Agricultural Homemakers of the Philippines. She was also active in her high school's speech and drama club, directing several plays, including one which won her a trophy as the best director. She contributed articles to the school organ, the Ruralite. Enrolled at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, she was even selected Miss Freshman 1971 for her “beauty and brains.”

Yet this quiet young girl, who liked nothing better than to read books in the seclusion of her room –“nagmomongha sa silid,” her family teased her, cloistered like a nun – became a militant activist. It was in senior high school that Riza Ilagan joined a local chapter of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM).

As usual, Ilagan excelled. She was a mainstay in the theater group Tambuli under its director Leo Rimando. When KM set up Panday Sining to become a national theater organization, she was assigned to be its coordinator in Southern Tagalog.

Panday Sining performed plays where the common people were – in factory sites, plantations, depressed areas. Its stage was any space – a picket line, basketball court, churchyard, market place. Performances were realistic, the message a challenging one: the working people must fight to be free and to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

When martial law was declared in 1972, Ilagan left the university in order to continue fulltime work in organizing and educating communities and sectors in the underground resistance to the dictatorship. At the time of her disappearance several years later, she was on the editorial staff of Kalatas, an underground newsletter in Southern Tagalog. Military intelligence was known to be keen on finding her.

Between July and August 1977, Ilagan and nine others in the Southern Tagalog network went missing one after another. The Ilagan family learned that she was abducted by military operatives on the way to a meeting. She had been with two companions, Jessica Sales and Cristina Catalla, also from UP Los Baños. They have never been seen again.

HILARIO, Antonio "Tonyhil" M.

hilario

Antonio Hilario, popularly known as Tonyhil or Hilton in the pre-martial law student movement, grew up in Quezon City's La Loma district. His father was a lawyer and his mother a school nurse.

Among their ancestors, the family was proud to count Tiburcio Hilario, the first revolutionary governor of Pampanga under the First Philippine Republic, and Marcelo Hilario del Pilar, one of the 1896 Revolution’s most well-known figures. Zoilo Hilario, a noted poet in Kapampangan and Spanish who later became a congressman and a trial judge, was his grandfather.

The fourth of seven children, Tonyhil had a quiet childhood. He made toys out of scrap wood and later showed an interest in electronics, taking apart broken-down transistor radios to see how they worked. He rarely socialized, preferring to read or go to the movies instead of playing basketball.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled in electrical engineering at the University of the Philippines. However, he never completed his course, as campus political activities began taking up all his time.

In those early years of student activism, Hilario emerged as a leading figure. He led discussion groups organized by the UP Nationalist Corps, and participated in its many countryside trips as part of the group's learning-from-the-masses program. It was here where Tonyhil first learned about rural poverty and oppression.

He was at the historic rally of 26 January 1970, which opened the turbulent period called the First Quarter Storm. He ended up that night nursing a bandaged head and a body turned black and blue by police truncheons. The experience seemed to strengthen his convictions.

Hilario was among the founding members of the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), a militant youth group that quickly moved into the forefront of the student movement. As its first secretary-general, he took charge of building SDK chapters in Quezon City, in Manila's university belt and poor communities and in other urban centers outside of Metro Manila. Under his leadership, SDK membership grew from a few hundreds to thousands nationwide.

When President Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, Hilario was included in a list of activists charged with subversion. Then the following year, when martial law was imposed, SDK went underground and so did he.

His initial assignment in the revolutionary underground was to build clandestine youth groups in Manila that would support the resistance to martial law. Later, he was sent to Panay island to organize rural communities, train armed recruits, and expand guerrilla operations there.

Less than two years after, he was killed while meeting with several other people inside a hut in a remote village of Libacao, Aklan, in the mountain fastnesses of central Panay. Without warning, government troops had surrounded them and opened fire. Antonio Tagamolila and Rolando Luarca were killed instantly, along with the pregnant villager who owned the hut. Hilario, hit in the chest, urged his other companions to leave quickly. A witness said that the soldiers beat him up and had him dig a grave for himself and his two dead comrades. The bodies were exhumed later, and the family gave Tonyhil a proper burial in a Manila cemetery.

Much admired for his quiet strength and simple, hardworking ways, Antonio Hilario lies in his grave with an epitaph that reads: "Behind the words, 'contradiction', 'dialectics', 'struggle' lies the desire to see man become human again."

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