Where were you when Martial Law was declared?

Today, the 23rd of September, it would be 38 years since Marcos declared Martial Law, plunging our country into its darkest years in recent memory, but also laying the foundations for its moment of glory.

Many of us weren’t even born yet.

We asked one of the staunchest advocates against Martial Law, the songstress Leah Navarro, to write about her memory of that fateful day:

Seriously, it was scary. When I woke up that morning to get ready for school (4am), it was troubling that my little transistor (yeah, transistor) radio couldn’t get any stations and there was nothing on TV. Something was up.

My sister and I used to wait for the school bus to pick us up outside Crame. We’d get there very early, at 5am usually, so it was a little before dawn. Our alarm grew as we watched a lot of Metrocom vehicles deploy from the camp. Later that morning at school, the nuns told us that martial law had been declared. Those of us who understood cried as we sang the national anthem, the STC faculty insisted that the flag be raised only to half staff. That night, I think, was when they broadcast Marcos’ announcement. Check it out on YouTube. It’s scarier on video than the photo.

My Mom lost her job because they closed down MBC, Channel 11. We had to live with the 12-4am curfew and the travel ban (that’s how the Inter-Village Basketball tournament started, rich kids couldn’t travel abroad for summer vacation), controlled media, controlled everything. The Filipino people, in general, soon developed a sort of Stockholm syndrome and quietly acquiesced.

Later on, when I began singing, I got to see how the powerful lived when I met the Marcos kids. But that’s another story.

Where were you when Martial Law was declared? What is your strongest memory from the days of Martial Law?

The ProPinoy Project

  • manuel buencamino ,

    martial law was fourteen years so i was in a lot of places. The worst thing about martial law was not that Marcos had absolute power. The worst thing was that his absolute power filtered down to every man in uniform and it was a bitch putting up with that. For fourteen damm years.

    • P Goitia ,

      A guy once told me about when he was a kid, when one morning he switched on the TV to watch his favorite cartoon – that old Iron Man animated series: All that was airing was static, but instead of turning off the TV he just sat there with the tenacity of a child desperate for his fix and who sees no other way to get it except to be patient and wait it out. Many minutes later, the President went on-air and declared martial law. Only years later did he realize the quirk of having spent that morning waiting for Iron Man the comic book/cartoon character to air, and instead witnessing the birth of the Real Iron Man.

      • Martial Law Baby ,

        Johnny Ponce Enrile went to a party and ate some brownies not realizing they were spiked with hash or the he drink from the LSD spiked punch? Anywya he had to be rushed to Makati Med. Probably saw who he was and scared himself silly. Anyway he wanted everyone arrested but he could not kasi the host and most of the guests were children of cronies.

        • Clariz ,

          My mom’s experience during the Martial Law 🙂

          During the time of Martial Law, I was still in 2nd year high school. All I remember was our freedom lost and there was time curfew (which I’m actually in favor of). But I was scared because we were clueless about what the president would do next. I didn’t participate in any political rallies but if there’s one thing I did to help in resting our democracy that was to vote for President Cory Aquino – Mother of democracy.
          -Carmelita Tanganco