DAVAO

Velez: Honoring my teachers, the Martial Law survivors

Tybox

RECENTLY, Congress has decided to honor Ferdinand Marcos, deposed president and dictator, by declaring his birthday as a holiday in his hometown.

You may have read reactions from Martial Law survivors on news and social media about their stories of detention and torture, or from historians and social media lifting facts to show that Marcos killed thousands, forced thousands more disappeared, and looted billions from loans and from our resources.

I am thinking that I should be honoring my three university teachers in my major in English and Literature who were also Martial Law survivors. And since this month is also Teacher's Month, I celebrate their courage.

Sir Rolando "Rolly" Bajo has a way to intimidate you in class recitations. But that method made you understand how to be prepared and withstand pressure. More importantly, he opened me to protest literature of Asia, and to the epics and folklore of the Lumad and Moro in Mindanao.

During my stint in the campus paper Atenews, I found an archive issue where he was front page news in 1981, having been arrested along with a student leader for leading an anti-Marcos rally. Many years later, retired from Ateneo, he revealed in a forum the torture he received in detention. The punches and cigarette burns he sustained was something I couldn't imagine have happened to him.

My other teachers Dr. Macario Tiu and Agustin "Don" Pagusara are award-winning writers who blazed the trail for Cebuano literature in Mindanao. They first met as political detainees in Manila during Martial Law. Both went underground having been student leaders in the 70s. Sir Don was captured in Leyte, and he remembered being shot in the leg as he was trying to run from his captors. Sir Mac remembered being told that detention was "rehabbing" them. But he mused later on, that with the state of our nation, the corruption and abuses happening around until now, he has not felt "rehabbed."

Sir Mac continues to write and edit books particularly on Mindanao history of resistance which includes Davao's history in Martial Law. While Sir Don continues to write poetry which still sees the fire of resistance.

I learned much from these three teachers, of the love for words, and our duty to speak truth for the people. Most likely, they are reacting over this news, and we are reminded that we must stand against this attempt to wipe out and revise our history. We must never forget the courage of those ahead of us like my teachers. Let us never forget and remember Marcos is not, never ever, a hero.


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