theWeeklySillimanian| February 25, 2021
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. We are reminded of the freedom that we currently revel in, at the expense of others 35 years ago. Thus, today is not only a day to take off work but an important historical moment— and hopefully, to reflect on why the revolution mattered so much and how it affects the Filipino people.
The one-man rule of Ferdinand Marcos lasted for almost 14 years, and within that duration, it was the darkest times of Philippines media, especially during Martial law. There was that world we lived in that was black and white. The media’s enemy was clear: it was Martial Law. It was Marcos’ authoritarian rule. It was the government.
The dictatorship was the single greatest obstacle to press freedom. Censorship by the state reigned. The rules were set in stone: no one had to write critically about the president, Imelda Marcos, the first lady, and the military.
Media companies have been shut down: TV, print, and radio. Propaganda sheets took control, a monotone of news and opinion favorable to the government. Opposition figures, activists, journalists included, have been detained.
Even the Weekly Sillimanian, we were one of those that ceased operations. The editorial of tWS, which was the final pre-martial law issue, also published the following notice on September 15, 1972: “… we are in for something disastrous. You have been warned. You already know what to do.”
The University was one of the first two colleges to be closed when martial law was declared. It was also one of the last universities approved after the closure to restart operations. Martial law did not, however, deter students from assembling and holding their patriotism aflame, considering the danger to life and democracy. The “secret” campus rendezvous of students continued in the basement of Silliman Church, in a space called the Catacombs.
35 years have passed yet now, we are once again grappling with another threat of dictatorship– human rights abuses, media censorship, among others, perpetuate under the Duterte administration. The Anti-Terror law is a downright transgression of our basic human rights. Filipinos should know better from what history has taught us.
As a shared Filipino community, our collective voices can overthrow any politician in power; EDSA 35 reminds us that.
Martial Law Remembered. (2014, July 21). Dumaguete Metro Post. http://dumaguetemetropost.com/martial-law-remembered-p4873-539.htm
D. (n.d.). Silliman University | Dumaguete Info. DumagueteInfo. https://dumagueteinfo.com/local-businesses/dumaguete-education/silliman-university/