Text by Cristina Chi
UP Diliman (UPD) students protested the entry of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ daughter, Irene Marcos-Araneta, in the Palma Hall where she attended a Dulaang UP play, Friday evening.
Marcos-Araneta went to see Frederico Garcia Lorca’s ‘The House of / Ang Tahanan ni Bernarda Alba,’ a play that centered on a grieving mother who forbids her children from entering romantic relationships. Director Alexander Cortez chose the Marcoses’ hometown of Ilocos as the setting of the play.
As she was about to leave the building, security forces under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) known as the Special Services Brigade (SSB) locked the gates at the lobby and the Rizal Garden to prevent student protesters from getting out. The gates remained barred twenty minutes after she left.
Art Studies student Apol Demigillo recalled being surrounded by security forces while the student protesters, who split up to wait for Marcos-Araneta, were locked behind gates. When he asked one of the security heads the reason for bolting the gates, he said he received “vague answers.”
“I was told that there was a certain ‘threat’ in which the person I was talking to refuses to explain, usually responding in frustration as to why I have so many questions, and that I should just leave,” he said in an online interview.
Demigillo added that his questions were dismissed by the security who claimed to not know who was in the building at the time.
One of those locked inside was senior Speech Communication student Caylie Franco, who said he and two other students discussed their reason for protesting with some SSB personnel while behind gates.
“Yung mga SSB na nakaassign sa amin was nadidiscussan namin kung bakit namin ginagawa iyon while them saying na trabaho lang or else matatanggal sila,” Franco said.
He also mentioned that some of the SSB personnel agreed with the students’ indignation over a Marcos entering the university premises.
UPD University Student Council Chairperson Sean Thakur said he invited students and organizations to conduct a quick mobilization after learning of a Marcos’ presence in UP.
“Hindi exempted si Irene Marcos-Araneta sa ginawa ng kanyang pamilya dahil sya mismo ay nagbenefit doon sa pagnanakaw at pamasista ng kanyang pamilya dito sa Pilipinas,” he said.
Thakur said the student protesters aimed to cover all possible exits to register their calls with the third Marcos sibling in person.
Her presence in UP loomed weeks before the UP community would celebrate the September 21st Day of Remembrance, a day in honor of those at the helm of resistance against the Marcos dictatorship.
In 1971, students and faculty members of UPD formed the historic Diliman Commune in protest of the worsening economic conditions under the Marcos regime. The Diliman Commune saw the UP community barricading against military intrusion for nine days along the University Avenue at the time.
The AS steps in Palma Hall, wherein Marcos-Areneta trailed upon leaving the building, bore witness to many historical demonstrations that condemned human rights violations during the late dictator’s martial rule.
Irene Marcos-Araneta, daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was spotted this evening at Palma Hall to attend @Official_DUP’s The House of / Ang Tahanan ni Bernarda Alba.
Students who conducted a lightning rally protesting Marcos's entry were locked inside the building. pic.twitter.com/xxkDJLpAbC
— Tinig ng Plaridel (@tinigngplaridel) September 6, 2019
When Marcos set foot in Ateneo De Manila University’s (ADMU) Areté museum in April 2019, ADMU President Jose Ramon Villarin, SJ issued a statement of apology. Areté Executive Director Yael Buencamino also resigned over the incident.
With reports from Hannah Embile and Mikee Garcia