by Jeuel Barroso and Bronte Lacsamana
Today’s unrelenting youth did not stop at the protests and mobilizations which occurred on Katipunan Avenue, Nov. 18—the same day the nation woke up to the unannounced burial of the late dictator and former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (LNMB).
As part of the unabating condemnation of said burial, a National Day of Rage and Unity was held in Quirino Grandstand in greater numbers, proving that the fight against historical revisionism and state fascism is far from over.
Students from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman marched from their respective colleges to Palma Hall calling for justice for human rights victims, particularly those who suffered during the Martial Law era.
After, they braved the streets of Manila, uniting with more protesters at Liwasang Bonifacio at Lawton before joining the rest of the contingent at Luneta Park.
“Mulat tayo sa mga nangyayari sa mundo, at handang handa tumulong sa pagbago nito,” said UP Diliman University Student Council (USC) Chairperson Bryle Leaño during the Palma Hall program.
“Bilang mulat na kabataan, serbisyo natin ito para sa bayan,” he added.
Despite the long distance and unpredictable weather, those who were against the sneak burial of the former dictator forged full speed ahead, going beyond social media rage and into the forefront of the protest which recorded at least 15,000 attendees and even extended outside the country.
From black display photos on Facebook and Twitter, black-clad youth voiced their rage against an altercation of history’s fabric which would turn a despot into a hero to be inspired and emulated not only by this generation but also the next.
With fists raised and heads held high, they wasted no time in expressing not only solidarity but also their wit and humor.
Statements such as “Pera ng bayan[,] pang-Coldplay ni Sandro,” “Satan is shookt” and “#makehukaythatbangkay” stood out from the crowd’s placards, enmeshing youth culture with the condemnation of historical revisionism.
Creativity also found its way to several artworks displayed during the large-scale protest, the most prominent of which was a paper mache Marcos lying in a coffin holding money bags in his arms. At one point, the mock coffin was put onstage while activist-artist Mae Paner (a.k.a. Juana Change) impersonated Imelda Marcos, her taunting performance provoking the crowds to chant, “Hukayin! Hukayin!”
“Debts incurred by the Marcoses are still being paid for through the masses’ taxes,” said Anakbayan leader and UP Manila student Al Omaga during the Luneta program. “The youth must be aware of this and demand justice.”
Coincidentally, millennials protesting the Marcos burial and holding President Rodrigo Duterte accountable for letting the burial happen were not the only members of the generation who showed up in Luneta.
Chaired by House of Representatives Political Affairs Officer III Ronald Cardema, the Duterte Youth, a pro-Marcos, pro-Duterte group camped on the other side of Independence Road, displaying a banner of support for Duterte and the Supreme Court (SC) on their decision favoring Marcos’s hero’s burial.
Kelby Uy, an Ateneo de Manila University Law School student, who showed up to condemn the LNMB burial found himself in a debate with the outnumbered contingent that was known to be very vocal online.
“It was just casual talk, ‘bakit po kayo pro-Marcos, pro-Duterte,’” said Uy, a UP Diliman graduate. “They were trying to say na mali ‘yung ginagawa ng mga estudyante. That’s where I think I have to defend our side as well.”
The Duterte Youth had been arguing that the Philippines has other problems that the youth should focus on instead of the Marcos burial, such as the drug case involving Sen. Leila De Lima.
De Lima has been the subject of an ongoing House hearing since October due to her alleged involvement in illegal drug trade inside New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.
“If you students want to make a difference, want to make a real impact, go to where the real demons are–in the Philippine Senate,” Duterte Youth member Raffy Gutierrez said.
Uy then argued that students rally where there is wrongness and necessity, addressing all issues such as the Marcos burial.
“Because this Marcos issue is very transcendental to the Filipinos and it’s a part of our history… we can’t move forward by forgetting what the past says,” he added.
Flicker of hope
A few hours into the program at Quirino Grandstand, brilliant pinpricks of illuminated cell phones and flashlights took the usual place of candles in breaking the darkness of the grandstand, accompanied by shouts of “Marcos! Hitler! Diktador! Tuta!”
“Tayo po ang liwanag sa dilim, ang dagitab sa kawalan, ang alab na hindi huhupa, ang apoy na hindi mamamatay. Tayo po ang pag-asang hindi mabibigo.” BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes said after asking the event managers and news agencies to turn off their lights in the middle of the Black Friday protest event.
Amidst momentary darkness, hope flickered.
It burned even brighter as the evening went with Martial Law activists—the true heroes that endured and survived Marcos’s iron rule—passing on the sparks of indignation to youth and student leaders whom they now expect to lead the battle against the fallacy of forgetting.
“Nararamdaman sa kaibuturan ng ating puso ang pagpapanibagong siklab ng pambansang demokratikong pakikibaka ng kabataan at estudyante,” Kabataang Makabayan founding member Satur Ocampo said.
Though generations have changed and transitioned from one to the next, the flames continue to raze state fascism, amassing greater intensity with the power of not only the streets but also technology.
In behalf of the youth, Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo pledged to “continue the fight for genuine change.”
“Ang laban na ito ay hindi nalang throwback, hindi na lang senti. Ang laban na ito ay laban na rin natin ngayon,” Crisostomo said.
From street debates with older folk to nationwide protests spurred on by the use of social media, millennials have gone beyond negative stereotypes, effectively wielding tools typically used by elders as evidence of the youth’s apathy–increased connectivity, urge to document everything, even the wit and humor characteristic of this country’s “hugot” generation.
Despite those who continue to shut them down with the all too familiar excuses of staying in school and keeping from the streets, they are not showing any signs of stopping.
“Tuluy-tuloy tayo sa paglaban sa diktadurya noon hanggang ngayon… laban sa pagbabalik ng kasaysayan,” Reyes said.
“Tayo ang gagawa ng bagong kasaysayan… pagkilos laban sa pananatili sa bulok na sistema na umiiral na nagpapakahirap sa ating mamamayan.”
As Marcos rots in a cemetery made for heroes, the fight goes on for the youth who have expressed indignation towards the blatant historical revisionism taking place, the power of collective action continuing to prosper.
The flames of militancy will continue to fan out as students from all over the country have taken it upon themselves to speak out, not only on social media, but also on the streets, and they will continue fearlessly doing so until their voices are heard and history is made right.