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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, September 22, 2023

entry arrow10:41 AM | Rebelasyon

I’m still overwhelmed by the response to this afternoon’s screening of the 11,103 documentary at the Luce. That Mike Alcazaren and Jeannette Ifurung were able to beautifully tell the story of my family and the loss of our land during Martial Law is something priceless, and my family is indebted to them for telling our story in a very sensitive way. The Negros Martial Law Stories portion was all of a piece, and all four stories [which included my family’s story, and that of Joel Abong, the Negros 9, and the Escalante Massacre] really managed to paint our island as one of the worst hit in terms of abuse. All the other stories were also compelling, and made me teary-eyed. Who knew about the massacres in Mindoro, in Samar, in Mindanao?

I’ve written so much already about this subject, so I’m just going to make this post about thanksgiving and acknowledgments. Thank you to the filmmakers, Mike and Jeanette, and producers Kara Magsanoc Alikpala and Zonia Bandoy, for persevering! Thank you to all friends and students who carved out a portion of their work/school day to commemorate this day with this film! [I know it wasn’t easy, and I know that many of you were also denied the chance to see the film because of the authorities immediately above you. Binawalan!] And thank you to Dakila Dumaguete for organizing this, and for making sure everything ran smoothly. And thank you to Diomar Abrio for the graciousness of helping us screen this film at Silliman.

The talkback portion of the program essentially consisted of people wanting to tell their own Martial Law story, and students responding emotionally to the stories on screen — which was all very moving. Mike said something in the end about the film urging all of us to “start small” in our own projects of remembrance, and to “find our own stories” about what happened in our country decades ago, which still divides us all until today. “Ask your family for their Martial Law stories, like what Ian did,” he said. That is important, I think, because right now, what we face is really a battle of narratives — but the truth of history is in our side. Merong resibo

But it’s important to find and tell the stories. 

Many of the subjects on the film [as well as some of the people who gave their stories during the Q&A] were united by one thing: their Martial Law story was something they never talked about for years and years, until now. [One son even tearfully confronted his father on camera: “Why did you never tell us that they put a sack over your head when the military picked you up?” His father’s response: “I didn’t say anything because it was too painful to tell.”]

In our audience today, Atty. Whelma Flores Siton-Yap felt compelled to tell the story of her father [which I won’t repeat here because it is her story to tell]. She said in a rejoinder: “I’ve never told anyone this story before, until now.”

It was the same with my family: kay “family writer” man ko and I was a baby when all these happened, I asked endless questions about the painful chapters of my family’s past to overly reticent members of it, and I dug deeper, and out of that came the essay, “Raping Sugarland,” which went viral When the documentary crew came over two years ago to film us, I was even surprised to find that my brother Dennis, normally a very quiet and non-political dude, had a lot of things to say about my family’s experience. I saw that as him grabbing the chance to talk about dark things in his past he had long since suppressed.

But there are so many Martial Law stories left untold, and that generation of witnesses are becoming old and dying. For that alone, I’m glad I said yes to taking part of this initiative. This is for history, this is for remembrance.

[Photo by Joan May T. Cordova]

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