Martial Law

LIST: 50th Martial Law anniversary events, activities

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LIST: 50th Martial Law anniversary events, activities
(1st UPDATE) Several groups and organizations line up different events and activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law

MANILA, Philippines – As the country marks the golden anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, various organizations lined up several events and activities to recall the day that prompted one of the darkest chapters in Philippine history.

On September 23, 1972, late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos declared the start of a gruesome 10-year military rule by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081, which was signed on September 21, two days prior the declaration on live television.

During this period, freedom of speech was suppressed and human rights were outright violated. According to Amnesty International, about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed from 1972 to 1981. Several political prisoners, also known as desaparecidos, are also yet to be found up to this day. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

Along with this, the country’s economy skidded, racking up $24.4 billion in debt, due to massive corruption and imprudent debt management, resulting in a full-blown debt crisis by 1983. The country is still paying the debt accumulated during this period up until today.

With another Marcos sitting at the helm for the next six years, attempting to distort history in their favor, several groups and organizations from #FactsFirstPH launched #SaysayNgKasaysayan, a campaign that aims to fight disinformation and remind the public the relevance of remembering the Martial Law era as a crucial part in the country’s history. It will include a series of events and activities debunking the ‘golden age’ myth, while calling for a comprehensive economic plan especially amidst a global crisis. 

Here is a running list of events and activities commemorating the 50th Martial Law anniversary:

Virtual events and activities

Although face-to-face activities are now allowed in areas under Alert level 1, most organizations still opt to hold some of their activities online.

Below is the list of virtual events and activities you may join in the run-up to the 50th year of Martial Law declaration:

  • IBON Foundation, a non-governmental organization, launched Krisis at Batas Militar, a series of activities, including an exhibit, video series, forum, film screenings, and book launch, as part of its 44th anniversary along with the 50th year of Martial Law. Among these activities include Krisis at Batas Militar, an exhibit and book sale on 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City from September 6-30; Ekonomiya Noon at Ngayon, a video series and forum from September 7-14; Presyo at Buwis: Isyung Konsyumer Noon at Ngayon, an online forum co-organized with SUKI Network and Gabriela Women’s Party about prices and taxes on September 17; and Martial Law @ 50: Alaala at Kasaysayan ng Pagbalikwas, a book launch organized by Tanggol Kasaysayan and CONTEND on September 30.
  • Pitik Bulag, a group of professional cartoonists, will hold the 3rd Tagisan: Editorial Cartoon Contest to give an avenue for young cartoonists to express their opinions through illustrations especially amidst a tumultuous political climate.
  • UP Institute of Human Rights, a government organization that concerns the protection and promotion of human rights, is holding The Legal Construction of Dictatorship: We Remember, a weeklong Martial Law series highlighting the events that transpired before, during, and after the declaration of Martial Law. It aims to help the generation after the momentous EDSA Uprising to understand how the laws were maneuvered to proclaim the Martial Law and use it against the people.

Other online activities:

  • Akademiya at Bayan Kontra Disinpormasyon at Dayaan (ABKD), a network of educators and academic institutions, together with MovePh, will launch a video version of the Martial Law ABCs initially produced as a book for children that aims to explain Martial Law in a simple manner. You may download the book for free here.

Film screenings, art exhibits, and performance gigs

  • Altermidya, an alternative media organization, launched Ang Katotohanan sa mga Marcos at Martial Law, a film screening of Martial Law films all over the country, as well as some parts of the world. It will run from September 10 to September 25.
  • Matanglawin Ateneo, one of the official student publications of Ateneo de Manila University, in collaboration with Altermidya, The Ateneo Assembly, Ateneo Martial Law Museum, and Loyola Film Circle, is launching the Martial Law Film Festival, which aims to tell the truth through films, on September 19 to September 23. You may register for free here.
  • Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA), a campaign network of martial law victims, civil libertarians, peace and freedom advocates, and human rights groups, will be launching Sing Kwenta: Mga Kanta at Kwento Tungkol sa Martial Law which will be held on September 21 along the University Avenue, UP Diliman, Quezon City.
  • Youth Advocates For Climate Action Philippines, an environmental conservative organization, launched Global Climate Strike: “Fashion against Fascism”, a political fashion show that will bring back 70s fashion and activism to reject the fascists ’empty words. This will be held on September 23. 
  • DAKILA, a group of artists, students, and individuals, along with Active Vista, will premiere 11,103, a documentary about martial law survivors, as part of the 10th Active Vista International Human Rights Festival, on September 17, at Cañada College, Redwood City.
  • A collaborative effort of Akbayan, SCAP, CYAN and Youth Resist embark on a Tour named ROADTRIP: Martial Law History Bus and Walking Tour. This aims to combat false information and historical revisionism. It will be held on September 18 for Metro Manila residents. You may register here.
  • The Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, in cooperation with other groups, is holding “Tao sa Tao: Mga Totoong Kwento ng Martial Law” on September 21 and 24 and October 1, 8, and 15 at the Multipurpose Hall and Lobby Area of the College of Fine Arts in UP Diliman.
  • University of the Philippines Cebu (UP Cebu) , UP Cebu Communication Program, UP Cebu Creative Writing Program, and Communicators of UP, will launch their fifth annual 1081 Exhibit, a yearly commemorative event for martial law victims, with this year’s theme, Fool’s Gold: Debunking the Myth of the Golden Age, focusing in battling against historical distortion through fact-checking and real testimonies from Martial Law victims. The event, including a multimedia exhibit and a film showing, will run from September 21 to 25. You may check other details here:
  •  Bagong Alyansang Makabayn (BAYAN), a multisectoral formation, calls for monetary donations to produce a 7 X 24 mural that will encapsulate the essence of people’s resistance against tyranny, especially in the context of Martial Law. You may send cash donations through GCash and PayMaya using 09365480087.
  • Politikal ang Komiks, an art and cultural exhibit featuring various local artists that is part of Active Vista Human Rights Festival, will commence from September 22 to October 22 at Gravity Art Space.
  • Join the candle lighting event to commemorate the darkest period in our country’s history, whether in front of your houses or in Timog Circle, Quezon City on 6 PM, September 20. You may take a photo and post it on social media using #ML50YEARSTOTOOYARN. Keep the lighting until 6 PM, September 21. 

Do you know of other events, protests, or activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration? Send the details to – with reports from Arjay Hije and Alek Mangasar/

Arjay Hije is a Rappler intern from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He is an incoming Communication Arts senior focusing on written communication.

Alexandra L. Mangasar is a Rappler volunteer under MovePH. She is a 4th year journalism student at the University of Santo Tomas.

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