General Admission

Just reminiscing

By Al S. Mendoza

UNDER dictator Marcos, there was no freedom of speech.

Thus, from 1972 to 1986, every Filipino was forbidden to speak his mind freely.

There was no law to that effect but during those cruel years of Martial Law, you seal your lips or you are as good as dead meat.

The Trajano case still remains as the most chilling reminder of how brutal, barbaric and senseless Marcos’ dictatorship was.

Trajano was the student found dead two days after he merely asked Imee Marcos about the wisdom behind the formation of Kabataang Barangay that Imee had headed during Martial Law.

Almost instantly after Trajano had fired his innocent query, government thugs swarmed on him and dragged him out of the public forum.

Two days later, Trajano was found dead lying in his own pool of blood.  Signs of torture were imminent in his badly battered body.

Imee is now a senator.

Trajano’s cry for justice remains that: a cry.

There were many other Trajanos then but they didn’t suffer the same cruel fate.

Why, because those who dared to speak to expose the evils of Martial Law and the rapacious ransacking of our government coffers by the Marcos family had been done by the alternative press from the underground.

They were too smart to be captured.

But the unlucky ones also suffered despicable military brutalities when caught. 

Several had died, others become desaparecidos (disappeared).  

What Marcos did before the dark years was to jail his critics wholesale a day before his Sept. 21, 1972 declaration of Martial Law or on the day he imposed his one-man rule.

His catch included journalism giant Joaquin “Chino” Roces, the owner of the original Manila Times.

All his prisoners were branded part of a conspiracy to topple his administration.

The world laughed at him. 

But he just laughed back. 

Obsessed with power, Marcos, after dismantling the 1935 Constitution, was as mad as Nero watching old Rome being consumed by flames.

With his Martial Law in place, Marcos murdered the mainstream media.

You use your voice to speak against Marcos and his immediate family, you get jailed for subversion.

You speak against Marcos’ military abuses, you could get shot.

You write articles in the controlled media that “incite rebellion,” they won’t see print at all.

Government censors planted in newspaper offices

have eagle eyes.

Worst, you could get invited by a military commission for interrogation.

I was a Manila Bulletin sportswriter then. 

But I would sometimes write non-sporting articles for Panorama (the Bulletin magazine), where three of my pieces had been banned for publication.

Yet, they were basically “entertainment” reading winnowed from showbiz.

“Your satire could hurt the First Family,” said a censor to me by way of explaining his decision to ban one of my articles.

Those were the days.  But I thought they’d end.

All things must pass, will pass.  Including Imee.

As did her father.

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