What the Martial Law Took Away

Liliosa Hilao

When Martial Law was declared on the 21st of September 1972 – no one knew how much this proclamation would affect the lives of the Filipinos and the Philippines for the years to come. Unfortunately, some brave men and women never survived this era of darkness.

Martial Law of 1972 curtailed the freedom of people – it came to a point that being critical of the government were not tolerated. Marcos’ justification of declaring Martial Law was to protect the country – but it did otherwise.

The military would forcibly arrest people who have spoken their opinions, illegally detain them, subject them to torture, and sadly, some were even killed.

An American historian, Alfred McCoy has tallied that there were 3,257 killings that happened in the time of Martial Law. Some of those lives taken, were young people. Young men and women who could have had a bright future ahead of them but was taken away in the most horrid manner.

Now, we will never know what they could have been. Just because they bravely pointed out what the government was doing wrong that time. Giving your opinion is not a crime, but during the Martial Law these young people dearly paid for that. They didn’t deserve it, but they were still murdered.

Let’s put a name to some of these young men and women who fought on. Liliosa Hilao was a promising student from PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). She was an honor student and the editor-in-chief of their school’s publication.

Liliosa Hilao

Lili, as she was known to her friends was asthmatic so she wasn’t active on demonstrations but through writing she expressed her opinions regarding the government.

On April 1973, she was taken away from her home by force and the following day, she was seen again but no longer alive. The Philippine Constabulary claimed that Lili committed suicide by drinking muriatic acid but her body told a different story.

Her body exhibited signs of abuse and torture – cigarette burns on the lips and bruises all over. She was the first person to die in detention during the Martial Law.

Let’s also talk about Archimedes Trajano. He was an activist and a student of the Mapua Institute of Technology during the Martial Law. On August 31, 1977, an open forum was held in PLM and Ferdinand Marcos’ daughter Imee was present.

Archimedes Trajano Marcos Victim

Imee was the current director of the National Youth council that time and Trajano had a question regarding her appointment of that mentioned position. That question apparently irked Imee because Trajano was thrown out of the venue by Imee’s bodyguards and like Hilao, he was never seen alive again.

On September 2, 1977, his body was found and it also showed signs of obvious torture. Initially, there was no coverage regarding his death and it was dismissed as a fraternity hazing victim case. Trajano’s face was disfigured and his body was covered with bruises.

Trajano and Hilao are just a few of the young men and women whose lives ended tragically during the Martial Law. Along with their lives, their dreams for the future ended as well. Just because they voiced out their opinions.  The Martial Law took lives and dreams away needlessly.

These people were silenced but will never be forgotten. They may have gone, but their stories will live on.

Sources:

Rachel A.G. Reyes, TMT, “3,257: Fact checking the Marcos killings, 1975-1985,”
http://www.manilatimes.net/3257-fact-checking-the-marcos-killings-1975-1985/255735/, (April 12, 2016).

Vberni Regalado, “The young victims of Martial Law,” http://www.philstar.com/campus/2017/09/21/1741305/young-victims-martial-law, (September 21, 2017).

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