Source: Humans of Pinas

Unidentified military officers dumped me into their car. It was about five minute trip from my ISAFP. Immediately, I was subjected to a most degrading, inhuman and humiliating experience I would never want to relive again. But the memories keep coming back. Upto now, in detention, I still have recurrent nightmares.

They threatened to kill me, get my relatives and torture them in front of me. They kept telling me nobody saw them taking me in……An agent then forcibly removed my blouse and bra and unzipped my fly. Another brought in a hand-cranked electric generator used in military telephone.

Two exposed wires were then tied around the little fingers of my right hand and foot. … … I could do nothing but scream… The electric session lasted for nearly two hours and was repeated in the evening.

"I was subjected to a most degrading, inhuman and humiliating experience I would never want to relive again" - Maria Elena Ang 1

After the electric shock, the military authorities were still not satisfied. This time I was stripped naked and forced to lie on a short table. At this instance, Major Arsenio Esguerra of the 5th MIG-ISAFP entered the room and signaled the start of the water cure, which they laughingly called the NAWASA session – Nawasa being the supplier of water in Manila.

This time, besides four men restraining my hands and feet, another formed my hair into a bun and pulled my head down (covered with my Igorot- weaved bag) so that it kept hanging on the air until I felt that the water was racing through my brains. I passed out twice but they kept pouring until I thought I would die. Beside pouring water, several agents mashed my breasts while another contented himself by inserting his fingers in my vagina after failing to make me masturbate.” (Alfred McCoy, “Closer than Brothers,” p. 215-16)

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On September 21, 1972, I was studying on a UP government scholarship then administered by Dean Armando Malay at the University of the Philippines – Diliman. I chose this, instead of the National Science Development Board (NSDB) scholarship as I thought it was a faster way to graduate and work.

"I was subjected to a most degrading, inhuman and humiliating experience I would never want to relive again" - Maria Elena Ang 2

Less than two months earlier, I had joined the national democratic organization, Aletheia, which beauty queen Maita Gomez also joined and has as its motto ‘Ang katotohanan ay ang pakikibaka.’ This fitted well with my ideal and my quest for an answer to ‘why is there widespread poverty and exploitation of the Filipino people?’ a question which nagged me from the time in high school a priest shared his thoughts and writing on the plight of the Negros sacadas (‘There is blood in your sugar’).

Months before, I had regularly attended demonstrations organized by the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP) and ex-Senator Diokno’s Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL) at Plazas Miranda and Lawton then and, at its height, mobilized 100,000. I listened intently to the speakers and complemented this with studying books, in class, history books; newsmagazines and journals readily available at the University Library as well as immersion at workers’ picket lines and nearby communities.When martial law was announced by Marcos on the grainy black-and-white television (all channels were blank except this one channel) of the thatch-roofed boardinghouse at the back of the Faculty Center where I stayed, we already knew.

For, on the evening before, we could hear gunfire being exchanged between the security guards of the Iglesia ni Cristo church on Commonwealth Avenue and raiding military men as well when a passing taxi driver shouted to coeds holding vigil at a nearby residence hall, “Martial law na!”The day after, I journeyed on a bus. The sky was overcast, as if agreeing with the mood at the time.

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People were quiet and I witnessed long-haired men being forcibly given the crew cut by soldiers.A week after classes opened (we had to pass through entrances guarded by UP police), UP students organized protest actions against the Marcos dictatorship (noise barrages at Vinzons Hall cafeteria, singing of the national anthem during switch of classes, wearing of black armbands), I was arrested for the first time and brought to Camp Aguinaldo, where I saw Miss International Gemma Cruz-Araneta and an Imelda niece (surname Romualdez) also being detained.

"I was subjected to a most degrading, inhuman and humiliating experience I would never want to relive again" - Maria Elena Ang 3

On my third arrest on August 5, 1976, I share the following. I had to clarify to the second author that it is not true that when read my account in an auditorium at the University of Wisconsin, one of the RAM boys claimed he was asleep; when his shod feet were on the table, hands cradling the back of his head while I was in front of him screaming and being electrocuted.I owe it to the Filipino people to tell the truth about martial law with my little story as another tyrannical history is unfolding when human rights defenders, lawyers, indigenous people, church people, workers, farmers and activists and even their loved ones are outrightly killed.

There are many more atrocious accounts which I heard and documented as a human rights worker in ML times (during which I journeyed as far south as Kiamba where I heard stories of a mosque full of old men, women and children being torched and Muslim women being put on a barge never to be seen again. For months afterwards, we never ate fish or shrimps, my narrator said.)

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