Seven Memories of this Particular Martial Law Baby

Martial Law Baby or MLB: A person who grew up during the Martial Law years from September 17, 1972 to January 17,1981.

The First Memory: Cartoons

The TV screen went black and went on again. They were showing cartoons. Almost non-stop for several days cartoons. This was the Martial Law Baby’s first encounter with Martial Law. Although at one point he had seen Tatad and Macoy announce something. But it was all just that. Cartoons, Tatad and Macoy.

The Second Memory: Curfew and the Bagong Lipunan Song

The Martial Law Baby also noticed from his window that the streets were quite empty at around the Witching Hour. Were there Aswangs and manangals about? It was the curfew imposed by Macoy. And before that Macoy ordered that all should surrender their firearms or else. The MLB had seen the old guns his Lolo had collected, including an elephant gun.

When school started the MLB had to learn a new song,

May bagong silang, May bago nang buhay, Bagong bansa, Bagong galaw, Sa Bagong Lipunan. Magbabago ang lahat, Tungo sa pag-unlad, at ating itanghal, Bagong lipunan!

(A new path, A new life, A new country A new movement In the New Society !All of us need to change Towards progress And let us proclaim, Our New Society!)

Bagong Lipunan by Felipe Padilla de Leon (1912-1992)

Bagong Lipunan was sung and heard almost everywhere. It was not long that an unofficial versions of the song began to surface.

Along with this there were other songs the MLB witnessed. During a parade of soldiers before Macoy the Ilocano song Pamulinawen was always played. And for Imelda it was always and will be Dahil sa Iyo:

Later on the MLB would learn of another song that was used as a rallying song against Macoy This particular song was also used during World War II as rallying song against the Americans and later on the Japanese. It has been said that Macoy considered this song seditious. This song was originally written in Spanish by General Jose Alejandrino and was known as Nuestra Patria but today it is known as Bayan Ko.

For the MLB these songs became the leitmotif of those years.

The Third Memory: Macoy and the Iron Butterfly

He was always known as Macoy and she Imelda. Macoy was also called Apo or FM or Marcos but for the MLB he was the one and only Macoy. When he went on TV – he was on all four channels. Always in barong with the baritone voice that spoke in his trademark English that on occasion would slip to Ilocano. There were stories of Macoy as being able to astral project or that the only food he ate was that prepared by his mother. Imelda at his side. Always willing to oblige a song – Dahil Sa Iyo more than often. Imelda was the First Lady, the Minister of Human Settlements and the Governor of Metro Manila. She was also the patron of the Cultural Center, the Folk Arts Theater and several other complexes She was the Iron Butterfly. As for Macoy, he was well Macoy and that was more than enough.

The dominated politics and culture of the growing up years of the MLB, There was a joke circulating then about Macoy and General Fabian Ver being condemned one of molten quick sands in the Underworld. Ver, the Chief of Staff and Macoy’s cousin asked Macoy,” Sir, I knew I have committed several sins but I am sure you have committed more … but why am I sinking faster while you are not even sink an inch since we got here?”

Marcos motioned him to be quiet and whispered, “The First Lady might hear you and I might have nothing to stand on.”

The Fourth: Dinners and Debates

Years passed and it seemed that the TV stations and the Nation went back to regular programming. Although Macoy still could get all four TV stations whenever he wanted to.

One day a balikbayan, a family friend visited the house, He had lunch with the family and the talk veered towards the Macoy and his accomplishments. The discussion became a choral of discordant voices of two: A heated discussion between construction, infrastructure and corruption. This particular argument was defused by the timely arrival of special puto with keso and palitaw.

At another dinner, the MLB’s Grand Uncle , an FBI or Full-Blooded Ilocano and another guest debated whether or not to support Macoy or not. And his Grand Uncle just raised his fist and said, “Solid North!”. Then both sides began to argue more in Ilocano, which the MLB could not understand, while the rest were heading up to the buffet table to get some more PPKK – Pancit Ilocano, Papaitan,Kaldereta, and Kilawen

The Fifth: The Taken

The Press and the media at this mostly featured articles and news that could be called the true, the good and the beautiful. This seemed from the old per-martial law magazines stocked up in boxes in the cabinet. Still though one could hear news and tales of people who had disappeared names like Jopson was frequently mentioned and a two ex-senators sentenced by Macoy to solitary confinement outside of Imelda’s Metro Manila.

As the MLB grew older he learned why a number of people also feared the military. People who had been detained or those who disappeared. The MLB also learned of the terms LIC or Low Intensity Conflict and DPA or Deep Penetration Agents. And there was the war against the Communists and the Separatists – but he also learned of OPLAN Jabiddah and OPLAN Sagittarius.

The MLB was growing up and learning things.

The Sixth: The White Paper

It was around this time that the family of the MLB received a xerox or photocopy of a report that came to be known as the White Paper, The White Paper contains details of the alleged wealth of Macoy, his family and his friends. It, information in the White Paper became the bedrock of allegations against what was to be known as crony capitalism. Everyone who was anyone in the Bagong Lipunan had business interests in this or that. It was said that the most popular and lucrative business was the mining business- this is mine, that is mine and oh that is mine as well.

The Seventh: The Shot

Eventually Martial Law was lifted. The Philippines had a unicameral system with a President and Prime Minister. Macoy was still the President and Imelda was still at his side. Then something happened an ex-Senator on his way back to the Philippines using a passport that identified him as Marcial Bonifacio, was shot and killed. The MLB was on his way from Laguna it was a rainy day. Although it took years, it all seems to happen fast now, Rallies and the Snap Election. Tita Cory and the Putschists. Fidel and the promise of a Tiger Economy that became extinct. Erap and his ill-fated Presidency, Gloria and Garci and now Noynoy. So many things have passed … so many opportunities wasted … luckily some opportunities realized … promises kept and some promised left behind to rot. Yet the MLB still remembers that rainy day in August – when a bullet ended the life of Marcial Bonifacio, Macoy and Martial Law.

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