To commemorate the 50th anniversary of martial law in the country, a documentary film about martial law survivors entitled “11,103” premiered at the UP Film Institute and at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Sept. 21. The film bannered the 10th edition of the Active Vista International Human Rights Festival organized by the artist collective DAKILA to highlight the campaign to uphold historical truths.
In her opening message to audiences at UP Film Center, DAKILA Secretary General Leni Velasco said: “The film ‘11,103’ is the biggest threat to the massive lies and historical distortion that the Marcoses and their allies continue to perpetrate. This is the biggest evidence that the atrocities of the Marcos regime happened. No decree in the coming years can erase the memory of the people who have lived through the perils of those dark times.”
“11,103” is co-directed by Mike Alcazaren and Jeannette Ifurung and produced by Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala. Magsanoc also produced the landmark documentary “Batas Militar” in 1997 and has her own martial law legacy as the daughter of late Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, former editor-in-chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and notable for her role in overthrowing the dictatorship. The film chronicles the accounts and stories of the survivors of the state-sponsored violence of the Marcos Sr. regime.
According to director Mike Alcazaren, “Now more than ever, there must be a reminder of the martial law era with all of its abuses. It’s written in law and hopefully, listening to the first-person accounts of the survivors should cement the fact that many, whether activists or innocent bystanders, had suffered unspeakable acts of violence.”
On Sept. 21, 50 years ago, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law, which gained him absolute control of power resulting in atrocities that paved way to the torture, arrests, and killings of thousands of Filipino people. An era marked by tumultuous amounts of human rights abuses and violations, its victims and survivors still clamor for justice. 50 years later, as a result of the recent national elections, another Marcos, the former dictator’s son, has risen to power.
Martial Law survivors and activists graced the screening of the film with activist Cris Palabay and Tacbil Mosque Massacre survivor Mariam Kanda speaking at the panel discussion moderated by journalist Roby Alampay at the UP Film Center. Director Jeannette Ifurung emphasized the importance of screening the film, “Under another Marcos, it becomes even more important to get the film out to as many people as possible. We can no longer sit back and assume that history will get it right. We have to fight back with the truth.”
The film is also being screened in different venues nationwide as part of the satellite events of Active Vista International Human Rights Festival in Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo, Dumaguete, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro. The festival with the theme “Visions X Movements” features various human rights-themed activities aimed to challenge the narratives of lies and deceit perpetrated by architects of disinformation and historical distortion that painted the Marcos Era as the golden years of the Philippines.
To reach a wider audience in the call to continue the movement for historical truth and integrity, the festival endeavors events, exhibitions, and performances such as “Politikal ang Komiks” featuring artists such as Tarantadong Kalbo, Kartunista Zach, and Rob Cham and “Politikal ang Comedy” with stand-up comedians Red Ollero and James Caraan.
“The challenge of our time is clear. We face new battles in an old war and wield new powers from our old arsenals. As storytellers, we will pursue our truth-telling towards wielding new narratives of hope for our nation built on a strong and resilient citizens’ movement for truth, justice, and humanity,” Active Vista International Human Rights Festival Director Alex Poblete said.
The ML@50 commemoration continued at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani where human rights and democracy activists and martial law survivors gathered for an outdoor screening of the film and a special program that paid tribute to the heroes of martial law resistance. Bantayog ng mga Bayani Chairperson and staunch human rights lawyer Atty. Chel Diokno opened the event held on the grounds of the Bantayog ng Bayani Memorial Foundation’s Wall of Remembrance. DAKILA Vice-President and musician Noel Cabangon sang a heartfelt rendition of “Pagibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” while DAKILA co-founder and veteran actor Ronnie Lazaro delivered an inspiring message to audiences, calling on the public to forge a movement to build a nation of hopefuls.
The event culminated with the powerful rendition of the anthemic “Bayan Ko” led by Bituin Escalante, ushering the call “Maging Liwanag para sa Katotohanan” (Be the light for truth), asking the public to be bearers of light that will ignite the movement for truth and bring forth a generation that will creatively resist tyranny.
The Active Vista International Human Rights Festival runs from Sept. 21 to Oct. 2, 2022. For more information and updates about the festival, visit Active Vista’s official website or DAKILA’s Facebook Page.
Photo screengrabbed from “11,103” official trailer