Source: Humans of Pinas

“August 25, 1977 is a day I will never forget. It was the day the International Congress of Jurists was holding a conference on the theme “”Human Rights as Essential to Progress Toward World Peace Under the Rule of Law.” It was decided that a symposium would be held at the St. Theresa’s College auditorium to expound on this theme. The symposium was a thinly-veiled cover to hold a protest gathering against the Martial Law Regime.

At the last minute, the STC management revoked the permit to use the auditorium. Not to be deterred, the organizers decided to hold an outdoor rally instead, right on the street of San Marcelino fronting STC. I was designated emcee of the rally on the spot.

There were several big names in attendance. I remember that Sen. Jose Diokno spoke and Walden Bello, who was a delegate to the conference, was also present along with other foreign delegates and media people.

Over an hour into the protest action, the police arrived along with water cannons. They had first used these water cannons to disperse rallyists during the May 1 Labor rally. After negotiations broke down, the cannons started to shoot streams of colored water into the crowd. They had figured that using coloring on the water would identify rallyists after the dispersal and make them easy targets.

I was immediately surrounded by the nuns present, led by Sr. Chit, RSG. They walked me out of the rally site and we boarded a bus bound for Quezon City. Even as police boarded the bus as well, the nuns kept me safe among them and the police could not do anything, even if they saw that my clothes were soaked with reddish water.

We went directly to the AS Theater in UP Diliman where a performance of UP Repertory Company’s “Pagsambang Bayan” was being held. At the end of the show, the play’s director, Behn Cervantes, asked me to narrate the incident that had taken place in San Marcelino to the audience.

This rally was my first to emcee outside of UP. It was also one of the several mass actions in 1977 that shook the Martial Law regime. To me, it will always be a milestone in my life as a student activist and mass leader.

43 year later, the struggle continues. It may be a different dictator but the conditions haven’t changed much and the fight goes on.”