Migrante Canada September 21, 2022
The Filipino People’s Remembrance Day: Never Again, Never Forget
Fifty years ago, in September 1972, then president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. declared martial law throughout the country and ruled with an iron fist. We know that a small number of Filipinos remember it very differently, but the people – the workers and peasants, youth, writers, civil libertarians, activists, etc. – remember it for what it was. It was a dark period of terror and repression with hundreds of thousands arrested, tortured, detained, “salvaged” , forcibly disappeared, massacred, and many villages “hamletted”, bombed, and militarized.It was a period of censorship and the muzzled press and media. Certainly, it was not a period of “golden years”, nor of “peace and order”, nor of “prosperity”. We remember the strong and unified resistance of the people under martial law, under the most severe state repression. The people’s popular uprising in 1986 known as People’s Power that kicked out the hated dictator and his family out of Malacanang Palace is a historical truth that cannot be denied or wiped out of the people’s collective memory. As overseas migrant Filipinos and workers, we remember. We raise the story of two young union leaders Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes who were brutally murdered in 1981 in Seattle, Washington. In 1989, the dictator Marcos and his wife Imelda, with other co-conspirators, were found liable for the assassinations of workers Domingo and Viernes, both U.S. citizens in the U.S. This was a landmark civil suit verdict where a foreign dictator was found liable for these murders on U.S. soil.
Domingo and Viernes were Filipino union leaders in Local 37 of the Alaska Cannery Workers Union of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) who believed in pro-union democracy and anti-corruption campaigns and worked to stop violence and intimidation in the union. The two Filipino-Americans were also believers in democracy and were actively involved in the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino (KDP) or the Union of Democratic Filipinos, which was part of the US-based anti-Marcos movement. Aa overseas migrant Filipinos and workers, we remember. We raise the stories of the survivors of martial law who live and work in Canada. They are the living witnesses to the martial law years and can put truth to power against the Marcoses and their network of cronies, filthy rich friends, crooked politicos, military officials, sycophants and church leaders, and martial law naysayers.
In our organizing work as migrant workers and members of the Filipino diasporic community, we keep these stories of martial law victims and survivors in our work of continuing resistance against post-Marcos governments. These stories inspire us to work in educating, organizing and mobilizing our compatriots in Canada. Knowing that our ties to the Philippines are strong and that our lives are rooted in the problems and solutions in the Philippines, we remain vigilant and will march with thousands of our kababayan to uphold the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom and democracy.