MANILA — A group of artists is currently staging a play on martial law at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City to help the generation, who was fortunate enough not to live through one of the country’s darkest eras, better understand the oppression by the Marcos dictatorship of its own people.
Produced by Tag-ani Performing Arts Society, “Hindi na Muli” (“Never Again”) details the human rights violations committed during the martial law regime that have been overlooked by most textbooks, and the ties that bind vice presidential candidate, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to the nearly two-decade dictatorial rule of his namesake father.
Bonifacio Ilagan, who was imprisoned in the 1970s and one of the conveners of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang, said that he decided to write the play, twin-billed with the indigenous peoples-centered play “Sanlibongan” (“Sanctuary”), to counter Marcos’ vice presidential bid.
“As soon as I learned that Bongbong Marcos was running for vice president, I immediately thought I should do and a write a play about martial law and connect it to his candidacy,” Ilagan said.
He added that the importance of conducting the play became more apparent when the campaign season kicked off last month.
“Since Marcos started his campaign, he has been spreading lies and that really enraged me,” the multi-awarded writer said, pointing at Marcos’ claim that human rights violations, if any, during his father’s regime weren’t state-sponsored and were isolated cases.
To make the telling of human rights violations interesting to the young audience, the target audience, Ilagan said that he made sure that the script was and “hip” and “light.” The story was played out showing the life and love of teenagers during the 1970s and how everything changed with the imposition of martial law.
In staging the play until March 19 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Ilagan said that they “hope to affect and touch people’s emotions” and give “flesh and blood” to the stories and social issues surrounding the martial law era.
National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, who at one time was imprisoned at the same safehouse in Marikina City with Ilagan, plays the patriarch who experienced the brutality of martial law.
Lumbera described the play as a good “supplement” to the history textbooks in schools since “theater gives a very graphic series of images about the martial law regime.”
“That would be necessary so that people will be attracted to the explanation about martial law… We hope that they will be enlightened [because] we are showing the atrocities, deceptions and theft of the martial law administration,” Lumbera said.
The production is expecting a nightly audience of 500, who would spread the word on the truth about martial law, according to Ilagan. He said proceeds from the P200 would be used to produce a video of the play so that more people would be able to watch it. SFM