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TFA regular contributor, Violi Calvert, whilst visiting Manila early this month caught the action of the launch of Not On Our Watch…, a book about Martial Law in the Philippines which was declared on September 21, 1972 by then President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. Violi shares with TFA readers some of the highlights of that book launch. // TFA Editor
The book Not On Our Watch (Martial Law Really Happened. We Were There), produced and published by the League of Editors for a Democratic Society-College Editors Guild of the Philippines (1969 to 1972) was launched last May 10 at The Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas compound, Roxas Blvd, Manila.
LEADS and CEGP were two major groups of campus editors and journalists from the period leading up to and during the early years of martial law. Thirteen members of these groups shared their experiences in their struggle against Martial Law in this book. The physical, mental and spiritual tortures suffered by the activists were vividly recounted in the book. The book is dedicated to eight members of the LEADS-CEGP 69-62 group, who perished in their struggle against Martial Law.
The hard-bound book has a striking cover image – art titled “Watusi” a 72 inch x 120 inch oil on canvass by Juanito Torres; photo courtesy of Galerie Joaquin.
The thirteen authors who contributed their story to the book are entrepreneur Angie Castillo; economist Calixto Chikiamco; well known writer and 16 Palanca awardee Butch “PenMan” Dalisay, Jr; former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit; Beijing-based journalist Jaime FlorCruz; singer and stage actress and diva Jay Valencia Glorioso; Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo; journalist Sol Juvida; corporate executive Victor Manarang; sportswriter Al Mendoza; art publisher Jack Teotico; engineer and social activist Roberto Verzola, and entrepreneur Vic Wenceslao. Sydney’s pride – writer, artist and editorial cartoonist Edd Aragon did the illustrations. In his cartoons, Edd uses humour to highlight the desecration of human rights and the excesses of the Marcos regime.
At the first reunion in 40 years of the LEADS-CEGP 69-72 group in October 2010, Elso Cabangon was elected as President of the group. It was at this reunion where the idea about the book was born. Much work and a lot of sacrifices turned that idea a reality. The book was edited by Jo-Ann Maglipon who herself was a student activist and has been Yes! magazine editor in chief for several years. Jo-Ann spent many hours editing and getting the book printed.
In the Prologue: Why This Book?, Elso and Vic A Wenceslao write: “We decided to publish this book so that our children would know of us. Our children know us, certainly, but not many of them know how, during our tender years (some of us not past seventeen), we put our lives on the line and fought a deadly struggle with the Marcos dictatorship… This anthology – to those who wish to highlight Filipino excellence – is also a celebration of the world-class accomplishments of a number of our members.”
The introduction to the book was written by Inquirer columnist Conrad de Quiros. He writes:
“We are a country that has the hardest time remembering anything. That is fallow group for planting the seeds of historical revisionism, and the Marcoses have been hard at work in it. At no time have the stories in this book been more needed. Time and the Marcoses have embarked on the Great Forgetting. It is things like this that should jolt us into a Great Remembering.
“Martial Law was a time when so many of the country’s best and brightest fall into the dark pit of state terrorism. But this was also a time when so many of the country’s best and brightest rose to remind the world of what it means to be the best and the brightest.
…These are their stories, these are our stories. They make us see a time in their lives that defined them; they make us see a time in our lives that shaped us…They make us see what once was and could be again. They make us see.”
(The book is available in major bookstores in the Philippines.)