Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
November 2, 2016
Remembering the Disappeared on All Souls’ Day:
A Commemoration of Real Heroes and Martyrs
(NOTE: In the absence of tombs to visit, the families of victims of enforced disappearance get together to remember and honor their disappeared loved ones. This morning, they gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Center in Quezon City. The celebration of life of the disappeared as real heroes and martyrs of freedom and democracy was led by FIND Honorary Chairperson Rep. Edcel C. Lagman whose younger brother Hermon Lagman, a labor and human rights lawyer during martial law, was forcibly disappeared on May 11, 1977 and remains missing to this day.)
The making of history has produced true as well as false heroes and martyrs. Under colonial or dictatorial regimes, real political activists, human rights defenders, and revolutionaries are depreciated, denigrated, and condemned as misguided change advocates, terrorist militants or rebels without a cause.
However, when power changes hands, especially when the real makers of history emerge victorious, these perceived deviants are recognized and honored as who they really are – heroes and martyrs.
The Philippine experience is no exception. The Spanish colonial government shot to death our national hero Jose Rizal for committing rebellion. The succeeding American colonizers convicted and hanged the patriot Macario Sakay as a bandit under the American-sponsored Brigandage Act. And during martial law, thousands of conveniently-labeled “enemies of the State” were unlawfully arrested, arbitrarily detained, forcibly disappeared, and/or extrajudicially killed. A number of them are now recognized as heroes and martyrs at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s Wall of Remembrance.
Whether or not the names of our disappeared kin are inscribed on the Wall, or on FIND’s memorial markers at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido in Baclaran, they are and will always be remembered and treasured. Their courage and steadfastness in fighting for human rights and dignity, empowerment and development, truth and justice amidst repression and disinformation inspire us to sustain the struggle for these people-centered causes.
After all, these causes remain mere aspirations for most Filipinos. Seeking their full realization is our way of making the spirit of our loved ones live on. This, we believe, is the best way we can do justice to their sacrifices and selfless love of country.
Pursuing the vision of the disappeared and other victims of State-sponsored violence is the key to breaking impunity and building enduring peace.
Remembering on All Souls’ Day the disappeared, who might have been heavily tortured to death and unceremoniously dumped in unmarked graves we know not where, forms part of our sustained celebration of the lives of real heroes and martyrs without tombs.
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