The list of Martial Law-related films

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Defending his decision to allow the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday seemingly reduced the atrocities committed during the late dictator’s regime as mere “challenges and allegations of the other side”.

His justification? “There’s no study, no movie about it,” Duterte said.

“Me, I am just being legalistic about it. President Marcos was a President for so long, and he was a soldier. That’s about it,” the President said upon arriving in Peru for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. “Whether or not he performed worse or better, there’s no study, no movie about it, just the challenges and allegations of the other side.”

But contrary to the President’s claim, there are a number of films and documentaries that circle the struggles and human rights abuses during the Marcos dictatorship.

The Loyola Film Circle, film organization of the Ateneo de Manila University, came up with such list in response to Duterte’s remark, saying it is the responsibility of every Filipino to educate themselves so “we can ensure that the mistakes of the past are neither forgotten nor repeated.”

“To those in the streets, fighting for the preservation of our history and the rights of all Filipinos, thank you. You have our full support. To those who did not go out, there are other ways to support the protest. Consider it your duty to educate yourselves and promote awareness about Martial Law and the atrocities that took place under the reign of Ferdinand Marcos,” the organization wrote on Facebook.

“As a film organization, we encourage everyone to watch and share movies and documentaries exposing Ferdinand Marcos’ crimes against our country,” it added.

The secrecy-shrouded burial of Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery, which came 30 years after he was ousted in the historic EDSA People Power Revolution, took the nation by surprise and sparked protests in various parts of the country. In Manila, protesters led by millennials, including students from Ateneo, converged at the EDSA shrine.

1. A Dangerous Life (1988) by Robert Markowitz

This English-language Australian film is about the Philippines’ final years under Ferdinand Marcos’ rule, from the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983 to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 that ousted Marcos. The film focuses on American TV journalist Tony O’Neil, who finds himself in the middle of key events that lead to the downfall of the Marcos regime.

2. Aparisyon (2012) by Vincent Sandoval

In the Adorasyon convent deep in Rizal, news of the abuses that took place during Martial Law are only heard from occasional visits of family members or smuggled newspapers. Then one night, newcomer Lourdes gets raped by bandits on her way home with another external nun, Remy, who makes use of the time outside the convent to join activists’ meetings in town.

3. Batas Militar (2006) by Jess Lapid Jr.

After the alleged suicide of his younger brother in the Army and death of his mother, Capt. Miguel Cortez is court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the army. Cortez is spurred on to transcend revenge, uncover the truth and bring justice to his brother’s death.

4. Batch ’81 (1982) by Mike De Leon

Alpha Kappa Omega Batch ’81, more commonly known as simply Batch ’81, centers on the lives of 7 neophytes as they strive to enter the titular fraternity through a difficult hazing process. The entire experience is seen through the eyes of Side Lucero, one of the neophytes. The films is an allegory about power and repression during the Martial Law era in the Philippines.

5. Dekada ’70 (2002) by Chito Roño

Amanda and Julian are doing their best to rear 5 sons during the repressive dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Through they view themselves as apolitical, most of their sons bristle at life under Martial Law and turn to activism and rebellion for release. After the family becomes the victim of extremist violence, Amanda begins to find her own dissident voice.

6. Dukot (2009) by Joel Lamangan

The story begins with student activist Junix Etrata and his girlfriend Maricel Salvacruz being abducted by military intelligence agents, who have identified them as leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA). In order to extract information from the pair, the military subjects them to inhumane torture and despicable harassment typical during the Martial Law era.

7. Forbidden Memory (2016) by Teng Mangansakan

This film summons remembrances and memories of the fateful days in September 1974 when about 1,000 men from Malisbong and neighboring villages in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province, were killed while 3,000 women and children were forcibly taken to naval boats stationed nearby where they encountered unspeakable horror.

8. Manila by Night (1980) by Ishmael Bernal

This film examines certain representations of Metropolitan Manila and the city’s queer intimacies during Martial Law. Released during a time when the Narcoses ruled. Mainly by Night challenges disciplinary plans for the city and its populace through the presence of queer characters that unabashedly love the dirty, dysfunctional and impoverished city.

9. Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975) by Lino Brocka

The film follows the tragic story of Julio Madiaga and Ligaya Paraiso and encompasses several social issues of the Philippines during the Martial Law in the 1970’s. Feeling obligated to help her mother rise from poverty in the province, Ligaya travels to Manila with high hopes that are tarnished when she discovers that she was brought in to be a prostitute.

10. Mga Kuwentong Barbero (2013) by Jun Lana

This film tells the story of newly-widowed Marilou who inherits the town’s only barbershop from her recently-deceased husband – a business that has been passed down by generations of men in her husband’s family. Under the worsening conditions of Martial Law, more challenges begin to confront Marilou and her village.

11. Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon (2014) by Lav Diaz

The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Walis are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad, and houses are burned. Ferdinand E. Marcos announces Proclamation No. 1081, putting the entire country under Martial Law.

12. Orapronobis (1989) by Lino Brocka

At the success of the 1986 People Power Revolution, political detainees led by Jimmy Cordero celebrate their release from prison. Not long afterwards, Jimmy embarks on a mission to investigate the latest crime committed by the Orapronobis cult. The movie explores the rampant human rights violations that took place despite the people’s belief that the dictatorship has ended.

13. Oro Plata Mata (1982) by Peque Gallaga

During World War II, two weathly Filipino families escape to a jungle hideaway, but soon the violence of the outside world begins to creep into their refuge. While Oro is about a distant era, it is actually an echo of its production’s own time, an era that had seen the country itself going from bad to worse anew, by then due to Martial Law.

14. Sigwa (2010) by Joel Lamangan

This story follows the atrocities of Martial Law as experienced by six student activists caught in the tempest of the First Quarter Storm. Rita joins the armed struggle, Azon is the activist who chooses to end her involvement in the movement, while Oliver chooses to cooperate with the Philippine government.

15. Sister Stella L. (1984) by Mike de Leon

Sister Stella Legaspi is a nun who becomes involved in labor strikes after learning of the government’s neglect of the poor and working classes during Martial Law. Her sworn duty to fight for the poor becomes complicated when Nick Fajardo, her journalist friend, is tortured, and Dencio, a union leader, is kidnapped and killed.

The Loyola Film Circle said they will be adding more films to the album in an effort to make the list more comprehensive. (From Philippine Daily Inquirer by Yuji Vincent Gonzales)

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