Iconic Martial Law play revived to counter historical revisionism

MARTIAL LAW. Iconic play 'Pagsambang Bayan' is revived into a musical in time for the 40th commemoration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law in the country. Photo by Carlo Tarobal/Tag-ani

MARTIAL LAW. Iconic play 'Pagsambang Bayan' is revived into a musical in time for the 40th commemoration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law in the country.

Photo by Carlo Tarobal/Tag-ani

MANILA, Philippines – This September marks the 45th year since the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under Martial Law – and the first commemoration since his unceremonious burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).

Marcos' state burial on November 18 last year triggered protests against the so-called historical revisionism.

Nearly a year since the clandestine burial, author Boni Ilagan and director Joel Lamangan revived the iconic play "Pagsambang Bayan" (public worship) to educate the youth about the country's dark chapter. (READ: Diokno: Next anti-Marcos campaign is to educate the youth)

First presented in 1977, the play was among the non-traditional ways of expressing dissent under the authoritarian rule. It dramatized portions of a Catholic Mass to convey the oppression at the time. The original run was performed by the UP Repertory Company in the Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theater inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. 

The 2017 version is updated with Marcos' burial and the human rights issues faced by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration amid his brutal war against drugs. 

"We want to immediately connect the rehabilitation of the Marcoses happening now... to what I call the best practices of the martial law [seen] in the extrajudicial killings [under] Duterte," Ilagan said in an interview after the play on Sunday, September 3. 

Ilagan and Lamangan were petitioners of the cases filed against Duterte's decision to allow Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last year. The SC denied the petitions, saying that there is no law prohibiting his burial there. (READ: Supreme Court: Marcos was not pure evil)

Ilagan is also the convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma), a group of Martial Law victims, who opposed the vice presidential candidacy of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 

"Kailangan kasi talaga ng constant education, constant reminder, especially hindi naman dormant iyong mga kaaway eh. Kumikilos din naman sila. The Marcoses, for instance, they are moving heaven and earth para mabago 'yung kasyasayan," said Ilagan.

(Constant education, constant reminders are needed, especially since our enemies are not dormant. They are taking action. The Marcoses, for instance, they are moving heaven and earth to change history.)

The play was launched on August 11. It will also run on September 21, the anniversary of the Martial Law declaration, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Little Theater. Other schedules are as follows:

Those interested to watch may contact tagani2003@gmail.com, 09228252604, or 09088124781 for inquiries. – Rappler.com 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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