Quezon City, Philippines – Artist-activist collective DAKILA-Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism calls for continued resistance after the closing of the Active International Human Rights Festival (AVIHRF) last Sunday, September 27.
“The AVIHRF has served as a platform for human rights organizations and advocates, artists, filmmakers, media, youth, and other audiences to engage in different discourses on various human rights and democracy issues so as to advance meaningful change to happen. As we close the festival, we call on them to continue reaching out to their kapwa (fellow) and continue working collectively towards the promotion and defense of our rights even at a time of physical distancing,” DAKILA Secretary-General and Active Vista Executive Director Leni Velasco said.
The AVIHRF is an annual event by DAKILA, through its human rights center Active Vista, that celebrates rights, freedoms, and dignity through stories of human struggles with the use of film screenings, exhibits, performances, forums, and events. With the theme “Walang Pipikit 360” (No One Blinks an Eye), this year’s edition of AVIHRF invited us to open our eyes, look closely, and pay attention to the worsening human rights situation in our country.
In commemoration of the 48th Martial Law anniversary and amid the health and human rights crisis in the country, the festival persevered on its commitment to provide human rights education and discourse through online platforms.
“We knew we would be facing myriads of challenges for this year’s festival. There is an ongoing de facto martial law online, the Anti-Terror Law is in place, and the onslaught of trolls worsen as we shift a large part of our lives online. But we persevered and pushed through, not despite, but because of all these attacks. Now more than ever should we continue expanding spaces of dissent, especially in a time when our freedoms of movement and assembly are suppressed in the guise of a pandemic,” DAKILA Communications Director Andrei Venal shared.
Mirroring the past
The AVIHRF was held in the week of the Martial Law declaration commemoration. This year’s edition of the festival was especially geared towards discussions on democracy and dictatorship as the new architects of tyranny work hard to paint Martial Law years as a golden period of our nation while also creating a new but just as brazen brand of authoritarianism.
“48 years ago, former President Marcos’ cemented his dictatorship in our country with the declaration of Martial Law,” Velasco noted. “But it is also equally important to note that this year we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm, a series of demonstrations in the first months of 1970 held mostly by students’ organizations and the youth. While the Marcos regime is undeniably the darkest period in our recent history as a nation, it is also during these dark times when our nation came together to fight for our rights, freedoms, and democracy.”
“At present, we continue to face the horrors of our past with our own time’s authoritarianism under the current government. With this, we remind our fellow Filipinos to also mirror the unwavering recourse to struggle and the collectivism of the generations before us. Let us set aside our differences and work towards the common goal of defeating the common enemy,” she underscored.
Beyond the Festival
The already nine-day festival wrapped up but DAKILA and Active Vista, along with partner organizations, call on stakeholders and audiences to continue utilizing the platforms they provide for alternative education on our history and society.
War of drugs documentaries On the President’s Orders (2019) by James Jones and Olivier Sabil and Nightcrawlers (2019) by Alexander Mora; and Lauren Greenfields’ The Kingmaker (2019), a “dark fairy tale” a documentary that follows Imelda Marcos, all remain timely and relevant. Active Vista calls on those interested to partner with us in screening and bringing these documentaries to wider audiences.
Digital visitors may continue accessing Wall of Remembrance: Digital Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a digital exhibit that was launched last September 21 in commemoration of the Martial Law declaration and as part of the festival. Stylized and up-to-date, it recreates Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s iconic memorial center.
The festival’s last screenings that featured Trilogy and Finding Ninoy remain accessible at Active Vista’s Facebook page for audiences’ enjoyment and learning. The trilogy is composed of three short films telling three stories under the war on drugs campaign: Ang Napagtripan (Sino si Max Dimaano?), Ang Napagkamalan (Ghosted), and Ang Nadamay (Langit Lupa). It was written by DAKILA member Micheline Rama and directed by another DAKILA member Cha Roque. Finding Ninoy, an attempt to humanize our heroes, to deconstruct a myth, and to question the motives behind martyrdom, encourages ordinary people to find courage in these trying times and live a life of heroism in their own ways.
To end, Venal emphasized the role of storytelling in the struggle. “Through AVIHRF, we unleashed the power of storytelling told through films, forums, and other innovative forms to remind the Filipinos of the reality of the Marcos era and today,” he said.
“As the struggle of 1986 continues, we encourage everyone to remain adamant in voicing different narratives based on social realities. We call on human rights advocates to continue speaking truth to power. We call on artists to continue creating works that provide different lenses of viewing our society. We call on filmmakers to continue creating human rights films. We call on the media to continue combatting disinformation with the truth. We call on the youth to tell and amplify the needs and calls of their immediate community.
We call on everyone to tell the stories of their own lives, livelihoods, and ways of living as tools of truth in a time of narrative wars.
As Filipinos, these are our rights and duties,” he concluded.
Precious Marie G. Gunayon
Public Relations Manager, DAKILA
0939 118 2374 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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