TODAY, November 2 in the Philippines, marks All Souls’ Day where families come together to visit the graves of their loved ones. But for many families of the disappeared, who are clueless about the fates and whereabouts of their loved ones, a visit to the cemetery is no option. They refuse to recognize the disappeared as dead.
Enforced or involuntary disappearances peaked during the martial law regime. The victims are usually persons with actual or alleged involvement in the struggle for social transformation or in upholding and defending the civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights of the people. They are political activists or critics of the regressive policies of the government.
Desaparecidos laid their lives for their country. They did not fear to risk their lives for the betterment of others. They have goals and dreams deeper than we can imagine – goals that may have also taken their lives, but their legacies will always be remembered and celebrated. They will never be forgotten for their struggle for the country’s right to national sovereignty and genuine independence, to unify all the exploited sectors and classes of society, to fight against impunity, violence, and repression, and to educate and liberate everyone from the bondage of poverty and oppression. These will be continued and will be fought for by their children and their grandchildren.
Today, the families and friends of the disappeared will gather at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido or the Flame of Courage Monument in Baclaran, Parañaque City round a shrine of a woman carrying a torch symbolizing the courage of those left behind and continuing the struggle for justice. The flame also represents the legacies and dreams that were left behind by the disappeared which shall be taken by new generations. Its light vanishes the dark for those who are weary and tired and gives new hope and strength to those who have always been, still are, and will continue to stand and fight for our rights.
The path to victory is long and arduous. But the search for truth and justice will continue despite challenges and impediments. AFAD shall continue to encourage the public to continue remembering and preserving the legacy of all Filipino heroes and martyrs who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the country’s freedom and independence.
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