People Power museum gives visitors a peek of Martial Law
MANILA — Think Martial Law under late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was a simpler time of peace and order?
A pop-up museum running on Thursday (Feb. 25) and Friday (Feb. 26) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, gives a sobering reminder of the era’s grim realities.
For the 30th anniversary of the Edsa People Power revolution, an “experiential museum” has been set up at the Camp Aguinaldo Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) grandstand in Quezon City.
But instead of straightforward timelines and static displays of photos and videos, the museum offers 40-minute “tours” through at least eight “halls” of performance arts and visual arts, depicting mostly human rights violations, atrocities and injustices during Martial Law.
The museum opens with the “Hall of Deadly Sleep,” featuring a video clip of Marcos declaring Martial Law over a roomful of cots on which bound actors lie immobile. This was followed by the “Hall of False Dreams” featuring photo murals of squalor fencing a glittering masquerade while former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ favorite song, “Dahil Sa’yo” plays in the background.
The “Hall of Orphans” depicts a concentration camp of children pleading with visitors to help them find forcibly disappeared loved ones. The “Hall of Pain” turns military torture methods into a carnival attraction.
The “Hall of Forgotten Martyrs” feature actors retelling the stories of the era’s martyrs, such as youth activist Edgar Jopson and tribal leader Macli-ing Dulag, culminating in a video clip of the last interview of opposition Senator Ninoy Aquino and his assassination at the national airport.
The last halls, the “Hall of Awakening” and the “Hall of Reality,” give visitors a taste of the struggles and triumph of the 1986 People Power revolution, complete with water cannons and confetti.
The museum, set up by the Edsa People Power Commission (EPPC), means to be “disturbing, haunting, or uncomfortable” to orient those who have forgotten the lessons of history, or simply, those who “don’t care” about the horrors of martial law, as the introduction of the museum goes,
Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., who joined the media during the museum’s launch on Wednesday, noted: “Mahalagang maunawaan at malaman natin ang tunay na kasaysayan ng Edsa, na ang kasaysayan ng Edsa ay nagsimula sa pagdeklara ng Martial Law, na kaya nagkaroon ng matinding poot, galit at pagprotesta ang mga mamamayang Pilipino ay dahil sa kalupitan ng diktadurya at pagsamantala na naganap ng panahon ng Martial Law.” ( It is important for all of us to know and understand the true history of Edsa; that the history of Edsa started with the declaration of Martial Law; that the wrath, anger and protest of the Filipino people were due to the cruelty and abuses that happened during Martial Law.)
Coloma clarified the museum was “not about personalities, [but] about the lessons of history,” when asked if the museum was meant to counter a recent resurgence of support for the Marcoses, as could be seen in the momentum being gained by the vice presidential bid of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
“This is a generational issue. Edsa happened 30 years ago. Thirty years is more than a generation. A big part of our population was born 30 years ago or later, so that explains why a big part of our population is not aware of what happened during Martial Law,” Coloma said.
“Our young people need to be educated and informed about these lessons of history so they will know what Martial Law really meant, so they will understand that freedom is the most important value cherished by all Filipinos,” Coloma said.
The museum will run from 9:30 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 25) to 12 a.m. (Feb. 26), and 8 a.m. to 12 midnight on Friday (Feb. 26.) Each “tour” slot — with 20-minute intervals between — can accommodate only 40 to 50 people, which is why the EPPC encourages schedule reservations through edsapeoplepower.com.
Coloma said the EPPC has been talking with the Quezon City government for a possible permanent venue for the museum. SFM
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