ORAS DE PELIGRO FILM REVIEW: What People Power Really Looks Like

By L. S. Mendizabal

4 out of 5 stars

Last February 25, Filipinos commemorated the 37th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Uprising—a series of nationwide public protests in 1986 that culminated in the ouster of former president, Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., after 21 years of dictatorial rule. On the same day, his son and namesake, and current president, sent a wreath of flowers to the People Power Monument, calling for “peace, unity and reconciliation.” Meanwhile, his sister, Senator Imee Marcos said she “could never stomach celebrating” (the anniversary).

What is there to make peace with, or celebrate anyway? None of the Marcoses have been held accountable for the billions of pesos they stole from the people, or the tens of thousands of Filipinos they had killed extrajudicially, tortured, “disappeared” and incarcerated illegally.

And yet, Joel Lamangan’s latest offering with Bagong Siklab Productions’ Oras de Peligro, has an optimistic air about it that is difficult to ignore as it pierces through the series of tragedies which befalls its main protagonists. One familiar with Lamangan’s filmography knows all too well that serial tragedies are kind of his thing. Never subtle, rarely complex and almost always campy, it is easy to imagine any Lamangan movie reworked as a play, or stretched out into a teleserye with little revision. This has, time and again, been Lamangan’s undeniable cinematic mass appeal. And Oras is no different. His vision, married with that of Bonifacio Ilagan and Eric Ramos’s writing, makes the film a compelling watch for the contemporary mass audience.

Oras is, at its core, a family drama. Dario Marianas (Allen Dizon) is a farmer’s son who has found work as a jeepney driver in the city and built a family with a housemaid, Beatriz (Cherry Pie Picache). They earn barely enough to be able to send their daughter, Nerissa (Therese Malvar), to college, while their older son, Jimmy (Dave Bornea), applies for odd jobs anywhere he can.

(Official movie photo)

Set in the wake of the botched 1986 snap elections, the story begins with widespread mass unrest. Members of the ruling class and their pawns, including the armed forces, are extremely divided as well. The Marianases, too wrapped up in their domestic problems, cannot be bothered with political activities, let alone political discussions. “’Wag na tayo sumali sa mga ganyan, kumayod na lang tayo nang kumayod (“Let us not participate in such things, let us work and nothing more)!” Beatriz passionately shuts down the slightest suggestion of social action from Dario.

Lamentably yet inevitably, crime, poverty and fascism are a reality that outweighs the family’s simple everyday resolve to put food on the table. A single day is about to change their lives when Jimmy unwittingly gets involved in a labor union strike, and Dario in a holdup incident aboard his jeepney. Both events lead to a violent clash with elements of the then Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police’s Metropolitan Command (MetroCom). To keep the criminals’ loot for themselves, the cops execute Dario. Only one passenger (Elora Españo) witnesses his murder. When Beatriz is summoned by the MetroCom, she does not believe what they tell her about the cause and nature of Dario’s sudden death. Still fighting off shock and tears, she threatens the cops with a civil complaint even though legal aid is the last thing they can afford on top of the funeral and burial costs. She sounds uncertain and meek, bordering on weak, but fearless nonetheless. The Marianases, despite being largely passive individuals at first, are instantly treated by the cops as enemies of the state.

Picache delivers a riveting performance, weaving in complex emotions into the simplest of lines. The overly dramatic music synchronized with her every howl and whimper almost ruins it in my opinion. In contrast, there is a perfect scene in the movie that is beautifully scored with Becky Demetillo-Abraham’s emotional interpretation of the film’s theme song of the same title: Dario’s father, peasant leader, Ka Elyong (Nanding Josef), quietly arrives at his son’s wake. Eyes brimming with tears, he is evidently shaken by the sight of Dario’s casket. Before him, a dove takes off from the ground. Its wings, flapping swiftly, miss his cheek by an inch or two.

Lamangan plays with the genre, juxtaposing the trials and tribulations of the Marianas family against old footages and shots of news clippings from the time. He also inserts a few humorous moments here and there—the most memorable is when Jimmy leaves a mortuary called “Badoy Funeral Services”—to the audience’s delight. Not all changes in narrative tone work to the film’s favor, though. For instance, in a heated argument near a workers’ strike, Jimmy and his friend Yix debate on the bigger enemy, Marcos the dictator or the capitalist, both of which are condemned by the workers on their placards. In another scene, student activists discuss the worsening rupture within the ruling class in the country, concluding that a “revolution” entails a total overhaul of the system, that the militant Left must not act hastily without first studying and assessing the situation with care and that this brewing People Power Revolution, however incomplete and insufficient, is to be cherished as the people’s initiative (“Atin ang rebolusyon!”).

There are quite a number of scenes like these whose intentions I wholeheartedly appreciate and agree with, but which could benefit from more showing rather than telling. Unfortunately, there is too much clunky dialogue and a dearth of nuance. This may be attributed partly to the low budget Oras has had to operate on, but mostly to a dogged desire to say everything all at once—not unlike an elder on his deathbed rushing his last words, worried that his successors might easily find it in their hearts to forgive and forget the trespasses committed against their ancestors. Seen this way, I somewhat understand the inelegant impulse with which Oras facilitates its discourse. After all, it yearns to speak to a nation twice duped by the Marcoses.

This yearning makes Oras an important film if only for the pursuit of Truth in an age when anything and everything can be true as long as the truth-teller is in power. Not only does it retell the events surrounding the first People Power from the masses’ point of view; it also reframes the common misconception about the people’s revolution—that placing flowers and yellow ribbons on soldiers’ guns or that millions of Filipinos clad in all-pink gathering to celebrate a woman leader will have to do (no matter how defiant that must have seemed in a post-Duterte, post-COVID Philippines!), and that it can be bloodless.

With its imperfect execution yet assuredly bold narrative, and even bolder ending which foregrounds the united people’s front over individual players other mainstream fiction and nonfiction films may tend to spotlight—the likes of Benigno and Corazon Aquino, Gringo Honasan, Juan Ponce Enrile, Fidel Ramos, etc.—Oras offers hope in the endless possibilities it presents when the passive bystander becomes an active agent of change, when students, doctors, rich employers and even high-ranking officials of the armed forces join the most oppressed and marginalized, the farmers and the workers (the Marianases, essentially), in their fight for justice and liberation. Oras takes comfort, and likewise gives comfort, in the fact that such are not merely possibilities but are, in reality, part of Philippine history.

It is not surprising then that the current administration has all but promoted social media content, YouTube vlogs and feature films that tell a dramatically different story. It is not surprising, either, that Darryl Yap’s Martyr or Murderer has since been moved from its original release date to the same date as Oras. There is an actual ongoing race of opposite interpretations of history. The Marcoses may have the upper hand of holding greater political power for now, but the people still possess their memory. Then again, memory, even in its most preserved state, can only do so much. A monument, no matter its size and significance to a people’s history, can only mean so much. And it certainly does not mean squat to a thiefdom even when they come with a wreath of white flowers and a message of peace.

In the open forum following the film’s invitational premiere at Cine Adarna in the University of the Philippines on February 24, Mila Aguilar, a poet and Martial Law survivor, tearfully shared how much she loved the movie and how, if only for an hour and 44 minutes, it made her forget the pain of being imprisoned. Indeed, Oras is Lamangan’s love letter to the Marianases and Milas, and all the other victims and survivors of the first Marcos regime. No one can ever take away whatever catharsis and solace this film may provide them.

As much as it comforts the afflicted, however, Oras also poses a challenge not just to the second Marcos regime, but to today’s young filmmakers, cultural workers and artists to create something out of the memories of our elders so that the lives they have lived and lessons they have painstakingly learned will not be in vain. We owe it to yesterday’s and tomorrow’s dreamers and freedom fighters to continue retelling our people’s stories, engaging in progressive discourses and actively participating in the relentless fight for Truth in the midst of massive disinformation, and in the years, arguably still, of living dangerously.

There is a remarkable level of innocence and earnest optimism to Oras as it remains steadfast in the fight for social change amidst a dominant atmosphere of jadedness and despair among Filipinos, especially in the aftermath of the May 2022 elections. Despite all that Lamangan has gone through, including his triple bypass surgery in December, and in spite of the anonymous death threat received by Ilagan recently, they have managed to push this courageous, little film to be shown in big cinemas in the country in the era of the Marcoses’ active efforts to distort history, no less. Far from perfection, Oras deserves all the credit for retelling and reimagining a true people’s revolt, something very few films dare hint at. It has a place in online archives, in schools, in the streets and in the countryside where history is not only remembered and retold, but more importantly, where the people make history. Do your loved ones a favor and bring them to see Oras de Peligro, now showing and lighting the signal fire of the anti-fascist historical revisionist discourse at cinemas nationwide.#

BANGAR’S GUERRILLAS: A small town’s valiant yet forgotten history of resistance during the Philippine-American War

by Mac Ramirez

At the northernmost part of the Province of La Union is Bangar, a small and quiet town nestled between the West Philippine Sea to the west, the mighty Amburayan River to the north, and the majestic Cordillera mountain range to the east. Its people are famous for crafting the hand-woven fabric called ‘inabel’ which, because of its durability, were used as sails of galleon ships during the Spanish colonial days.

At present, Bangar’s ‘inabel’ blankets, table runners and hand towels are in high-demand, both locally and overseas. Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray visited Bangar last March 2020 and even sat on a native wooden loom to try her hand at weaving this beautiful fabric.   

Map of La Union province.

But apart from the ‘inabel’, not much is known about the town of Bangar.

Who would have thought that this small and quiet town has a valiant history of resistance and played a significant role during the Philippine-American War?  

When President Emilio Aguinaldo and his Council of War resolved in November of 1899 to shift to guerrilla warfare as the means to fight the American invaders, Ilocano freedom fighters wasted no time in preparing and leading the masses for revolt.

Guerrilla units spread like wildfire in La Union and other Ilocano Provinces. The people of Bangar rose up and heeded the call to defend the country. The Bangar resistance movement was so strong and organized that American forces at that time dared not venture around those parts without sufficient numbers.

“An Insurgent Column on the march.” (Collier’s Weekly; May 10, 1900)

Hotbed of ‘insurrection’

US Army Captain F.O. Johnson of the 3rd Cavalry summarized the situation in Bangar in a report to General Samuel Young dated March 6, 1900. He informed the headquarters in Vigan of the presence of at least five active guerrilla organizations within a radius of merely ten miles of Namacpacan (present day Luna) and Bangar [Ochosa, The Tinio Brigade]:

“The situation is such that it is unsafe to send out bodies of less than 40 or 50 men. The insurrectos have a well-organized system of espionage and all movements are immediately reported by couriers. Secret information leads me to distrust most of the native officials…”

The cohesion of the Bangareños to the guerrilla cause was a major source of dread for the Americans during the war’s height. The place was literally crawling with guerrillas and sympathizers. Even the parish priest of Bangar, Padre Bonifacio Brillantes, was an ardent supporter of the ‘insurrectos.’ He was later convicted by the Americans for having once rung the church bells in a bid to warn the guerrillas on the approach of the enemy.

“The topography is such that it is impossible to bring large forces in contact with these insurrectos,” read part of Johnson’s report. “When they greatly outnumber the Americans; they fight, otherwise they retreat into the mountains.”

That was the situation in Bangar. As to the general situation in the First District of La Union in early to mid-1900, Major General Elwell S. Otis described it, thus: “This today is the worst part of the Philippine Islands.”

The final fall of the Spanish in Bangar

That Bangar is so committed to the cause of independence and freedom at that time was not at all surprising. Just a little over a year prior, in August 1898, the final victory of Filipino revolutionists in La Union against the oppressive Spanish colonial regime was sealed in Bangar.

After almost a week of intense fighting, Spanish soldiers under Lieutenant Don Goicochea, who were then holed up inside the Bangar Convento, surrendered to the Filipino revolutionists in August 7, 1898. Eleven days after, on August 18, General Manuel Tinio accepted the “Acta de Capitulacion” of the Spanish forces in Bangar – one of the only two official acts of surrender signed in La Union soil, the other one being in the cabecerra San Fernando which was signed on July 31. Thus the more than three centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the Province of La Union finally fell in Bangar.

Historian Adriel Obar Meimban, in his book “La Union: The Making of a Province 1850-1921,” noted that during the final assault against the Spanish in Bangar, “all rose up to a man.”

Spanish Governor de Lara of Ilocos Sur testified that during the fighting in Bangar, the unremitting vollies of fire from the guns of Filipino revolutionists were heard from even across the Amburayan River in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. The Spaniard admitted then: “En La Union, no quedaba un hombre que no fuese rebelde” (In La Union, there was no man left who was not a rebel).

My great-grand aunt Paula Ramirez’s husband, Don Daniel Perez, was named Gobernadorcillo of the newly installed Filipino Revolutionary Government in Bangar. Back in September 1896, Don Daniel Perez (Interprete de este Juzgado) was among the twenty prominent Ilocanos who were tagged as leading “conspirators” and “subversives” in the friar-concocted “Supuesta Conspiracion.” The Vicar Forane of San Fernando, Fray Rafael Redondo, accused them of plotting to massacre Spanish officials in La Union.

Along with Daniel Perez who were exiled and banished to Palawan’s Balabac Island in 1896 were the leaders of the supposed ‘conspiracy’: Don Lucino Almeida of San Fernando, who would later on become La Union’s Presidente Provincial or Governor, and Don Ireneo Javier, who would later on become Ilocos Norte’s Governor and first representative of the province to the Philippine Assembly of 1907. Javier would also marry Perez’ daughter, Trinidad Ramirez-Perez.

The memory of victory against their former colonial oppressors is still fresh in the hearts and minds of the people of Bangar. Thus with a new set of invaders and colonizers at hand, they are ever prepared and willing to defend their hard-fought freedom.

Summing up the sentiment of the La Union umili (townsfolk), Governor Almeida telegraphed President Aguinaldo in Malolos on January 6, 1899. He said that La Union is prepared to go to war for independence as it did so valiantly against Spain, this time against the Norte Americanos:

“The dissemination of the news that the war against the Americans is impending as they greedily prey upon this Philippines, a continuous stream of news from all the towns have been received by me to show to the authorities and to the people that they resent, and they do request to offer themselves, including their possessions and lives, and they are grateful for your acceptance of their offer.”

[English translation from original Ilocano, by Meimban]

Thus, the people of La Union prepared for war. And when the Americans set foot in La Union soil in November 20, 1899, Filipino guerrillas are ready for action.

Bangar’s guerrillas      

MAP OF GUERRILLA OPERATIONS IN LA UNION. Photo from the book “Tinio Brigade”

The guerrillas of Bangar were part of Guerrilla Unit No. 1, led by Captain Anacleto Mendoza who was tagged by the Americans as the ‘prime disturber’ in that part of La Union. This outfit was responsible for the successive strikes in the first days of the year 1900 that completely infuriated the Americans.   

Attack on Bangar

On the night of January 10, 1900, some fifty armed guerrillas led by Lieutenant Francisco Peralta stormed Bangar, ransacked the Presidencia and executed the Presidente Municipal “who had earlier been marked for liquidation for his collaboration activities.” [Ochosa, The Tinio Brigade] Two other municipal officials, the Delegado de Justicia and the Delegado de Industria, were also executed by the guerrillas that night for supporting the enemy.

In response, the Americans sent a cavalry patrol to hunt down the daring raiders but they were ambushed in Sudipen (then a part of Bangar) by waiting Filipino forces under Lieutenant Simplicio Geronilla. The clash left two Americans killed and three others wounded.

A few days before the January 10 Bangar night-raid, Lieutenant-Colonel Juan Gutierrez, commander of all the guerrilla forces in La Union and Southern Ilocos Sur, ordered all guerrilla units to collect “acts of adhesion” from prominent citizens for purposes of propaganda abroad.

The Civil Governor of La Union, Don Lucino Almeida, likewise, convened all the Presidentes of the Province at his residence in San Fernando and ordered them to “furnish food, provisions and supplies from time to time to the forces in insurrection against the United States.”

Pocket guerrilla operations will continue to pester the Americans in the succeeding months. But the twin attacks in Bangar that greeted the New Year of 1900 – the night-raid of January 10 and the ambush thereafter – stood out for its cunning and audacity. Orlino Ochosa, in his book “The Tinio Brigade,” wrote that the said attacks were deemed by the Americans then as “war crimes” that were “unpardonable.”

Apart from the presence of armed guerrilla bands, the American occupation forces in Bangar also had to contend with the existence of the Sandatahanes – a phantom army of bolomen – that by March of 1900, a new garrison was set up by the US Army in Bangar.

The presence of another American garrison, however, did not dampen the fighting spirit of the Bangareños. By the middle of April 1900, Major Pascual Pacis and Lieutenant Juan Mendoza, of the guerrilla army’s Milicianos Territoriales, were at Barrio Paratong in Bangar recruiting men by the hundreds to join the resistance.  

Said recruits were initiated similar to that of the Katipunan rites, in that they were made to sign their oaths with their own blood and they were subjected to branding on their right breasts using the mouth of a heated bottle.

Maj. Pacis and Lt. Mendoza, who were later convicted by the Americans for their guerrilla activities, must have been recruiting members for the recently revived Katipunan in Bangar, considering that on May 5, 1900, a cache of Katipunan blood-oaths were discovered by the Americans in nearby Tagudin in Ilocos Sur.

Bangar will yet again witness another bold guerrilla attack on the night of May 5, 1900. Lt. Peralta and his men managed to sneak past American lines and again entered Bangar and assassinated five locals who served as Americans scouts. One of them, a former soldier of the guerrilla army who, exactly a month before, deserted to the Americans and turned-over to the enemy his company’s complete muster-roll [Scott, Ilocano Responses to American Aggression 1900-1901].

Back then, the locals derided their town mates who were being too friendly with the American forces. On the part of the guerrilla army, this is considered a mortal sin that is punishable by death.

By December 22, 1900, the US Army’s 48th Infantry listed a total of nine persons killed and thirty persons or more assaulted in Bangar for “sympathy and assistance rendered the American cause.” Three of those killed and two of those assaulted were municipal officers.

In all areas covered by the US Army’s First District, Department of Northern Luzon, a total of 100 persons were assassinated for supporting the Americans, 26 of them were municipal officials.

The Americans, on the other hand, also vented their ire on town officials whom they suspected of supporting the “insurrectos”. On Christmas Day of 1900, American authorities ordered the arrest of all of Bangar’s municipal officials led by its then Presidente Municipal for “conspiracy.” [Scott, Ilocano Responses to American Aggression 1900-1901]

In early 1900, the legendary General Manuel Tinio, commander of all Filipino forces in the entire Northern Luzon, issued an order to punish, by penalty of death, all those who will surrender, support or give assistance to the enemy.

“Although I would regret to have to shed the blood of my compatriots, I am disposed to take all the steps necessary to punish rigorously the traitors to the country.”

Guerrilla chiefs were also instructed by Aguinaldo’s Chief of the General Staff in 1900, to “kindly order all their subordinates, down to the lowest level, to learn the verb ‘Dukutar’ so as to put it immediately in practice.” In so doing, he said, it is “most salutary for our country.” [JRM Taylor papers] 

“Dukutar,” from the root word “dukot” or “ca-ut” in Ilocaco, meant the abduction and assassination of enemy forces, collaborators and spies.

It is worthy to note that the liquidation of spies and traitors to the cause were part and parcel of guerrilla warfare. In the face of a superior adversary, Filipino freedom fighters then had no choice but to resort to these kind of tactics, which also include, among others, the cutting of telegraph wires and the constant harassment and raids on enemy patrols, posts and detachments.

Even the commander of the American Forces, General Arthur Mac Arthur, admitted the prevalence of assassination of traitors on the part of the guerrillas.  In 1901 he reported: “The cohesion of Filipino society in behalf of insurgent interests is most emphatically illustrated by the fact that assassination, which was extensively employed, was generally accepted as a legitimate expression of insurgent governmental authority.”  

My great-grand father Isidoro Ramirez, the son of Don Hipolito Ramirez and a distinguished citizen of Bangar, was implicated as one of the conspirators in the January 10 Bangar guerrilla attack. He along with his town mate and cousin Manuel Bautista and Maximo Roldan, a native of nearby Namacpacan, were arrested and jointly tried by a US Military Commission convened June 3, 1900 in San Fernando, La Union.

Though they pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges, they were sentenced “to be hanged by the neck until they are dead.”

Public hangings in Bangar

Ramirez, Bautista and Roldan were publicly executed at the Plaza of Bangar on November 23, 1900. They were the first Filipino patriots to be hanged in La Union (perhaps in the entire Ilocandia) and, as such, the US Army meticulously planned and prepared for their public execution.

Adriel Obar Meimban, in his book “La Union: The Making of a Province 1850-1921,” wrote that Colonel William Penn Duvall, the American Commander based in San Fernando, received specific instructions to conduct their execution in a manner that is “quiet, orderly, dignified and soldierly.”

He was told to “select the particular place in Bangar, providing suitable material and the necessary labor for erecting the scaffold and procuring the rope, cord, etc required.” Thus an imposing wooden scaffold was ordered constructed in Bangar’s town plaza beginning October 1900.

Because two of the sentenced men – Ramirez and Bautista – were Bangar’s native sons, the Americans were extra-careful in keeping them in custody from their detention cell to the gallows, “lest they tempt guerrilla attack or attract ‘special attention’ from the people.”

On the day of the execution, Col. Duvall was instructed to undertake precautionary measures “to control the throng,” as thousands of Bangar-folk and citizens from surrounding areas were expected to gather at the town plaza for the hanging. The taking of photographs of the hanging was banned and newspapermen were not allowed on site.  

“The Provost Martial executed the martyrs upon the order of the Commanding Officer. Then the C.O. reported personally to Vigan for further instructions,” Meimban narrated.

Thus, “with no mawkishness of sentiment nor with the least abatement of the intended grimness and terror,” Ramirez, Bautista and Roldan were hanged in front of a horrified people, on top of a newly-built scaffold that would soon hang several other high-ranking guerrilla officers of the Tinio Brigade.

A public hanging in Bangar. Photo from Philippine-American War, 1899-1902 by Arnaldo Dumindin

The public execution of sentenced “insurgents” was a major part of the US Army’s anti-guerrilla strategy – and they chose Bangar as their stage.

Perhaps to strike fear among the populace and to punish the town for its strong support to the guerrilla resistance, the people of Bangar were, on every occasion, herded to the town plaza to witness these “macabre public hangings.’

On September 13, 1901, the town hosted yet another triple-hanging of top leaders of Guerrilla Unit No. 5. They were 1st Lieutenant Natalio Valencia, 2nd Lieutenant Hilario Quesada and 2nd Lieutenant Patricio Zaidin.

Zaidin, a native of Alilem, was the last guerrilla leader to fall into the enemy’s hands in the La Union and Southern Ilocos Sur theatre of war.

Meanwhile, the proponent of the audacious raids in Bangar in the first half of 1900, Lt. Francisco Peralta, was also hanged in Bangar on October 11, 1901. Before his execution, Peralta uttered these last words: “Goodbye my beloved country. I am going to another world, sparing you further pains and anguish by sacrificing my life. Beloved countrymen, pray for me as I will pray for you in the next life. With love and courage, I am willing to die for your sake. I am not afraid to die.”

“Beyond death, Peralta became a hero,” wrote Meimban.

Also to meet his fate at the gallows of Bangar was Major Aniceto Angeles, one of the original commanders of the Philippine Republican Army’s La Union Battalion and the guerrilla chief of Guerilla Unit No. 2. He was hanged on October 18, 1901 with fellow guerrillas Fermin Directo and Tomas Torres.

More than 2,000 people were made to witness the hangings which, according to Meimban, was a “nauseating spectacle.”  When he was given the chance to speak before the gathered masses, Major Angeles shouted in defiance: “I am satisfied with the sentence and accept death!”

The hanging of Filipino prisoners of war by the Americans was strongly denounced by President Aguinaldo. From his mountain lair on January 17, 1901 he issued an urgent proclamation condemning the hangings as “repulsive and inhuman” and castigated the practice as “unheard of cruelties and shameless violations of the most elementary laws which are being committed by the imperialists.” [JRM Taylor papers]

He then “ordered and commanded” guerrilla chiefs to negotiate prisoner exchange “at the rate of one American for every three of the many Filipinos who have been condemned to death by them, and who are expecting to be executed at any moment.” 

Furthered Aguinaldo: “In case the American commander refuse us the requested exchange, the American prisoners, whatever be their number, will be shot – the punishment for those attempting our national integrity…”

War in the mountains

Despite the bloody triangle of US Army’s anti-guerrilla campaign in the Ilocos Provinces – the prosecution of guerrilla supporters, the garrisoning of towns, and the public execution of ‘insurgents’ – the ‘war in the mountains fit for the small against the big’ (guerra de montaña es la propia del pequeño contra otro mayor) as described by Col. Juan Villamor in his memoirs, continued to rage in Northern Luzon for almost two years.

Ochosa summed up the valiant and impressive resistance of the Ilocanos:

“Manuel Tinio and his brave band of Ilocanos and a few Tagalogs fought the invaders for almost two years. Surely it was a short war, but that beau geste demonstrated once more the sturdiness and indomitable character of the Ilocano “nation,” this time fighting as part of the Filipino nation; and it was a great struggle that proved the worth and mettle of their Tinio Brigade. The history of that brigade is the history of that war.

The last word on the historical and political significance of the Ilocano phase of our national struggle for independence comes from no less than the American Commander himself, General Arthur Mac Arthur, who defined that little war in Ilocos as the “most troublesome and perplexing military problem in all Luzon. In all Luzon.”

Bangar – that small and quiet town at the northernmost part of La Union – truly was a giant when it came to fighting for freedom and independence. Its people courageously fought and booted-out the Spaniards in 1898 and again bravely faced head-on the American occupation forces during the tumultuous Ilocano phase of the Philippine-American War of 1899-1901.

Sadly, Bangar’s valiant contributions remain seemingly forgotten and untold. There is not even a mention of it in its own official town history.

Nevertheless, Bangar has distinguished itself and has proven worthy to be called “ili daguiti kalalakkian” (where men-of-men come from). More than four decades after the Philippine-American War, the sons of Bangar’s guerrillas of 1899 -1901 will step up to the plate and assume the honorific role of their fathers before them and will gallantly face another set of unwelcome occupiers – this time the Japanese Imperial Army and this time, fighting side-by-side with their fathers’ former adversary, the Americans. As was before, the guerrilla movement in Bangar during the Japanese Occupation was so strong and organized, as evidenced by the presence of a big guerrilla camp situated in the fastness of Barrio San Cristobal in Bangar.

Indeed, Bangar’s valiant history of resistance must be remembered and retold. The martyrs of Bangar and the many others who laid their lives in the defense of our Motherland must forever be put in a place of honor and recognition. #


  • Charges of cruelty, etc., to the natives of the Philippines. Letter from the Secretary of War relative to the reports and charges in the public press of cruelty and oppression exercised by our soldiers toward natives of the Philippines. February 19, 1902;
  • THE TINIO BRIGADE: Anti-American Resistance in the Ilocos Provinces 1899-1901, Orlino A. Ochosa;
  • Ilocano Responses to American Aggression 1900-1901, William Henry Scott;
  • La Union: The Making of A Province 1850-1921, Adriel Obar Meimban, Ph.D;
  • The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States: A compilation of documents with notes and introduction by John R.M. Taylor

Photos used in this article had been supplied by the historian.

Mac Ramirez is a long-time national president of the Commission on Elections Employees Association. His previous history article for Kodao may be read here: MYSTERY SOLVED: Spot where missing Fil-Am war memorial once stood finally found

Cebuano children to launch Leon Kilat book on hero’s 147th birth anniv

A children’s book on Cebuano hero Pantaleon Villegas, popularly known as Leon Kilat, is set to be launched on Monday, July 27, in time for his 147th birth anniversary.

Written and illustrated by graduates of a 2018 workshop, Historya (Children Creating Stories from Cebu History), the story book “Si Leon Kilat ug ang Sigbin” (Leon Kilat and the Sigbin) is part of a continuing campaign to reconnect local youth to their Cebu roots.

Sigbin is a local mythological creature said to come out at night to suck the blood of victims from their shadows.

Negros Oriental-born Villegas was a revolutionary leader in Cebu during the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

The authors of the storybook are Jhulianna Capangpangan (University of San Carlos- South Campus), Santi Sagayno (Gaas National High School), Isabella Faith Bautista (Ateneo de Cebu) and Francis Luke Vicoy (Colegio del Sto. Niño).

Ateneo de Cebu’s Kristine Anne Subaan is the book illustrator.

The book is published by Tres de Abril, Inc and Palm Grass: The Cebu Heritage Hotel.

The cyber launch of the book and celebration of Villegas’ birth anniversary entitled “LEON KILAT: Revolution and Magic” (Celebrating Leon Kilat @147, ang bayani sa Sugbo nga Abtik pas Kilat), will be at two o’clock on Monday [The hero of Cebu who is faster than lightning]. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

MYSTERY SOLVED: Spot where missing Fil-Am war memorial once stood finally found

By Macky Ramirez

(Photos by the author and the Philippine-American War Facebook group and, used with permission.)

THE MYSTERY of the missing monument to an important episode in the Philippine –American War is finally solved. The memorial marking the spot where one US infantry officer was killed in action in a fierce fire fight between American and Filipino forces on the morning of November 11, 1899, thought to have been lost forever, was finally found in San Jacinto, Pangasinan.

For years, historians were stumped as to what became of the memorial that was dedicated to the memory of Major John A. Logan Jr. of the Thirty-third US Volunteer Infantry. The Logan Memorial Cannon was erected in 1905 to mark the location where the officer was mortally wounded by a sniper belonging to Filipino forces under the command of General Manuel Tinio. It featured a captured cannon mounted on a concrete base.

Monument marking the spot where Maj. John H. Logan was killed at San Jacinto. This photo was sent to his mother by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, then Governor-General of the Philippines  (1921-1927).

The memorial was thought to have been swallowed by the ground and disappeared over time. However, on December 28, 2018 the place where the Logan Memorial Cannon once stood and some parts of it was finally located and discovered.

Albeit missing the most integral part, which is the cannon; this blogger along with several colleagues* were able to locate what remains of the memorial inside a family yard with piles of firewood stacked above it.

The original Logan Memorial Cannon up close.

We pinpointed the exact spot where it was erected over a hundred years ago and was able to find what remains of it in Barangay Macayug along the San Fabian-San Jacinto Road. Only pieces of the Memorial Cannon’s original concrete base survived. Locals say the steel plate containing Major Logan’s information might still be there being kept in a house somewhere in the village.

We spoke with the Barangay Captain, old folks and locals in the area and learned that the Logan cannon were unceremoniously spirited away by armed men who were reportedly in search of treasures of some sort, one night in the early eighties.

Village folk point to where the memorial once stood.

Locals remember playing at the Logan Memorial Cannon during their childhood days, but they have apparently lost memory of what transpired there 119 years ago.

When we narrated to them the events on what happened there on that day, one middle-aged resident exclaimed: “Tama pala ‘yung kwento ng matatanda. May nabaril dito na Amerikanong sundalo. Pero ang sabi, sundalong Hapon ang bumaril!”

I was jolted when the thought struck me. Lost along with the monument is the memory not only that of Major Logan’s, but more so that of the gallant Filipino forces under the Tinio Brigade who fought to their deaths in the defense of our Motherland.

A moment of eerie silence followed after I explained to them that a total of 134 Filipinos were killed there in that rainy morning of November 11, 1899. I told them that these brave kababayans of ours, in the face of the enemy’s Gattling Guns and massive firepower, put up a heroic stand against the formidable American juggernaut.

An American gattling gun on the beach of San Fabian.

Though the Filipinos eventually retreated after a fierce gun battle which raged for more than two hours, the fighting which came to be known in the annals of the Philippine-American War History as the “Battle of San Jacinto,” remains significant to this day. This pivotal encounter signaled the paradigm shift of the Philippine Army from conventional warfare to that of guerrilla warfare. Two days after the battle,  a National Council of War held in Bayambang resolved to disband the Philippine Army and ordered the generals and their men to return to their own provinces and organize the people for general resistance by means of guerrilla warfare.

It was also in this battle that the invading American Forces may have had first taste of General Manuel Tinio, the legendary Tagalog boy-General of the Ilocanos, who took them one and a half years and more than 7,000 men to “civilize.”

Tinio and his forces were in San Jacinto on orders to block and delay the American forces pursuing General Emilio Aguinaldo.

The Tinio Brigade.

The Battle of San Jacinto was dubbed by the American press as “one of the sharpest engagements of the war.” The American forces involved were from the Thirty-third Regiment US Volunteer Infantry under the command of Col. Luther R. Hare and Filipino forces under General Manuel Tinio numbering to 1,200 to 1,600.

On the afternoon of November 7, 1899, more than 2,500 American soldiers aboard six US army cruisers and gun boats descended on the shores of San Fabian in Pangasinan.

The expeditionary force commanded by Brigadier-General Loyd Wheaton was composed of Thirteenth US Infantry; Thirty-third US Infantry Volunteers; Sixth US Artillery; detachment of US Engineers; detachment of US Signal Corps and two Gattling Guns; one hundred thousand rations and a supply of 1.2 million rounds of ammunition.

It left Manila Bay on November 6th and sailed towards the Lingayen Gulf and landed on San Fabian on orders to block and prevent the Northward retreat of Emilio Aguinaldo and his army.

US gunboats bombarding San Fabian prior to landing.

Wheaton’s command was part of the “three-pronged” strategy of the US army to trap Aguinaldo with Major General Henry W. Lawton leading the charge towards the Northeast to prevent the insurgent leader from escaping through the mountains and General Arthur Mac Arthur’s forces who were well on its way advancing along the Manila-Dagupan railroad (from Angeles to Dagupan) in a frantic bid to trap Aguinaldo into the pocket created by Lawton’s and Wheaton’s forces.

At this time, Aguinaldo is in the town of Bayambang in Southern Pangasinan.

In the morning of November 11, Major Logan led the troops in the advance towards San Jacinto. During the intense fire fight which broke out along muddy fields, heavy underbrush and bamboo thickets, he was fatally shot in the head by a sharpshooter positioned atop a coconut tree. Including Logan, seven American soldiers were killed in that encounter.

Col. Hare in his field report after the battle, wrote of Logan’s death: “Volumes might be written, but in the end could add nothing which would more clearly establish the gallantry of this officer.”

Brig. Gen. Wheaton also extolled Logan, saying that his conduct “was most gallant and worthy of his name,” and that “his death comes as a personal bereavement to the many in this command who knew him well.”

US President McKinley also paid tribute to the fallen soldier. In his telegram to Major Logan’s widow, he wrote: “his splendid qualities as a soldier and high courage on the fighting line have given him place among the heroic men of the war and it will be some consolation to know that he died for his country on the field of honor.”

On May 3, 1902, Major John A. Logan Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor “for most distinguished gallantry in leading his battalion upon the entrenchments of the enemy, on which ocassion he fell mortally wounded.”

Major. John A. Logan Jr.

Logan was the son of Senator and Civil War Hero Major General John Alexander “Black Jack” Logan. Apart from his illustrious military career and distinguished service as a statesman, the elder Logan came to be known as the Father of Memorial Day in America. It was his idea to decorate with flowers the graves of American soldiers who died for their country. The US Congress formalized this observance as Memorial Day in 1871.

The General would surely turn in his grave if he knew that his own son’s memorial went missing! 

The Phil-Am War Memorial Cannons

Major Logan’s Memorial Cannon in San Jacinto was among the only four (4) known Memorial Cannons erected in the country to memorialize US army officers who were killed in action at the height of the Philippine-American War.

The Memorial Cannons include that of Major General Henry W. Lawton’s, erected at San Mateo on the spot where the American General was killed by Filipino marksmen under legendary General Licerio Geronimo’s Tiradores de la Muerte on December 19, 1899. The monument was dedicated on January 24, 1903 and had a captured cannon mounted downward on a five-foot concrete base surrounded at the corners by artillery shells. The monument stands to this day at the Barangay Hall of Barangay Bagong Silangan in Quezon City, then part of San Mateo.

Lawton Memorial.

Another is that of Col. John Stotsenburg’s. He was the Commander of the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry killed in action on April 23, 1899 at the Battle of Quingua, present day Plaridel in Bulacan. General Gregorio del Pilar commanded the Filipino forces in that historic battle that is being commemorated annually as a holiday in Plaridel. It also had an inverted cannon mounted on a concrete base, surrounded by four iron cannon balls placed at the corners. It still exists to this day, and in 1999, a huge mural was commissioned by the local government of Plaridel framed around the Stotsenburg memorial as a lasting tribute to the unsung Filipino fighters who were killed in that battle. The third memorial cannon was erected by the American colonial government in Malinta to honor Col. Harry Clay Egbert of the 22nd US Army “who was mortally wounded on this spot while leading his regiment, the 22nd US Infantry in an encounter in Manila on March 26, 1899.”

Col. Stotsenburg Memorial.

The Egbert Memorial Cannon was located originally inside a one hectare tract of land proclaimed in January 12, 1906 as the Egbert Momument Reserve by then Acting US Governor General Henry C. Ide. It featured a massive cannon mounted in the center, and flanked by large caliber artillery shells, all set on a concrete base.

Photos from the date of the dedication showed the original monument containing a sculptured bust of Col. Egbert. It is still not certain if the bust was part of the original monument or if it was only added for photographic or ceremonial purposes. If indeed it was, then it must have disappeared over time.

Egbert  Memorial.

The Egbert Cannon was only found six years ago partly buried in the middle of a dirt basketball court inside a slum area on Flaviano street at the boundary of Barangays Karuhatan and Malinta.

News reports said the monument fell into neglect through the years. And in the 1990s, the cannon ended up being “swallowed” by the earth after treasure hunters dug a tunnel beneath it.

In 2013, the local government of Valenzuela and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) had the massive cannon unearthed and restored and unveiled it at the New Valenzuela City Government Complex for people to see and appreciate.

The local government of Valenzuela also passed an ordinance in 2011 recognizing March 26 of every year as Battle of Malinta Day, which it said was “a notable point in the history of Valenzuela City and a celebration of the heroism of its people.”

We must not forget 

With the recent discovery of what remains of the Logan Memorial, the local government of San Jacinto in Pangasinan and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) must undertake steps to rebuild and restore this very important monument in our history not only for the memory of Major Logan but more importantly, to the memory of 134 Filipinos who were killed in San Jacinto on November 11, 1899.

The Battle of San Jacinto and the 134 nameless, unsung Filipinos who perished in that fateful encounter must not be forgotten. We owe it to them. We owe it our children. We owe it to our country. #

[When taking time off as a Commission on Elections employee where he serves as the national president of the Comelec Employees Union, the author is an amateur historian who says he indulges in his other passion “only when he is in the mood (Kapag ginaganahan lang.)]


  1. Report of an Expedition to San Fabian, San Jacinto and Vicinity, November 5 to November 30, 1899 by Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton, USV, Commanding
  3. Philippine-American War facebook group

* The Search Party included myself, Mac Ramirez; Gel Gerardino; Rodel Realubin and Edward Macasu. Atty. Reddy Balarbar, a native of San Fabian a town near San Jacinto, was not able to join us that day, but he was able to provide in advance a significant lead towards locating it.

UP educators, alumni and students condems Imee Marcos and Kabataang Barangay Reunion at UP

Naglunsad ng press conference ang No Revisions, No Erasures: Educators Against the Rehabilitation of the Marcoses upang kundenahin ang ginanap ika-43 anibersaryo ng Kabataang Barangay sa UP Bahay ng Alumni noong Agosto 25, 2018 kung saan panauhing pandangal si Rep. Imee Marcos.

Sinagot din ng alyansa ang mga pahayag ni UP President Danilo Concepcion sa kanyang pagdalo sa nasabing pagtitipon at ang pahayag ng administrasyon ng UP tungkol sa pagpapahintulot na magamit ni Imee Marcos at Kabataang Barangay ang mga pasilidad ng UP. (Video by Maricon Montajes)


GOYO: A review

By John L. Silva

The cineaste in me had some trepidation viewing Goyo, the nickname for General Gregorio del Pilar, coming on the heels of the box office hit Luna, that irascible General Antonio Luna who, like del Pilar, fought under President Emilio Aguinaldo (played by Mon Confiado) in the Filipino-American War.

Would a successful film dilute the creative juices of Jerrold Tarog for this next film, about a 23-year old “boy general” who takes up the cudgel of fighting for the newly formed Philippine republic after Luna’s untimely demise? Would more access now to funding complicate the script, be more nuanced, erratic and become an ego stroke for the director and producers?

Well, as I return from the movie premier, with a notebook full of scribbles, I confess to be quite taken by the depth of this cinematic experience. Goyo is a study in historical profundity, in dialogue bordering on poetry, in the cinematography of verdant mountains that chokes the heart, and in actors that have managed to approximate the heroes and villains we study and revere. In effect, director Tarog, the producers, the cast, and the crew outdid themselves.

The movies cuts to the chase at the very beginning. Luna has just been butchered by Aguinaldo’s soldiers, interesting in that this movie lays Luna’s death directly on Aguinaldo’s lap, the last one having pussyfooted on the issue. There’s a massive roundup of soldiers under Luna’s command including a high ranking officer, Col. Manuel Bernal (Art Acuna) who refuses to change his allegiance. For that he is tortured under the unfeeling eyes of Gen. del Pilar (Paulo Avelino) but still manages to throw insults at del Pilar, accusing him of following whatever Aguinaldo commands. He yells hauntingly at del Pilar, that he is, in effect, “not a soldier but a dog.” As del Pilar leaves the cell, the bloodied Bernal, at the point of snapping, yaps like a loyal dog with a humiliating bark which would stick with him, and haunt him.

In 1899, Less than six months after the start of the war, Aguinaldo’s forces suffer setbacks and flee to the north, to Dagupan in Pangasinan. They are there for five months providing respite and developing a more developed profile of del Pilar who it turns out is a sly flirt and a ladies’ man having broken many hearts in the towns they retreated to, as evidenced in the many pained letters from the ladies found in his sling bag.

Del Pilar as national lothario makes his real life boy-next-door image a lot sexier with the local lasses in their voluminous trailing ternos, fanning nervously, in near faint, with very apparent repressed desires. Casual sex hadn’t been introduced in those days.

There is one young lady that takes del Pilar’s fancy and probably every other gender and gender variation in the audience. She’s Remedios Jose (Gwen Zamora), the daughter of the town’s politico, and their first encounter is a study in 19th century Victorian encounter. As was the manner in those days, she communicates with her eyes, aptly described in 19th century literature as “Mapungay na mata” (dreamy, tender, liquid eyes).

With slight stifled breaths they are disarmed with one another but must keep a pretense, a nonchalance. Later, over dinner, he breaks the staring across the table and apologizes for the rude behavior displayed earlier. She politely says, to paraphrase, that she can handle any situation. Her father cheerily chimes in about having a strong daughter and this is Goyo first warning. She’s gorgeous but there’s going to be some serious hoops before she is “conquered.” Goyo, probably used to fainting violets had met his imperturbable match.

Months into the courtship, Remedios does not let up. In her self possessed way, she probes his past and wonders whether she’ll be conquest number 101. In a romantic and sensual court dance in the family house, as they slowly sway, hold hands, uncouple, approach, take in each other’s cologne and sweat tinged with yearning, she continues with her sweet and earnest inquisition. She not only chides him for being a potential heartbreaker but may possess heroic delusions that will get in the way of her just wanting a man, for keeps, at her side.

Del Pilar pledges fealty while Remedios must now deal with one ex of his, Felicidad Aguinaldo (Empress Schuck) who, in a market scene with Remedios, does a tit-for-tat with sharpened verbal claws. Remedios notes that many of the over ripe mangoes may have to be disposed. Felicidad snidely suggests to Remedios she could be one of them warning her of Goyo’s record of dispensing many other “mangoes.”

Oooh, this scriptwriter has an ax to grind. But Remedios is unfazed. She responds gently back, eyebrows raised, how ever could Felicidad think such, since she’s not a mango. Touche! Three snaps.

Photo: General Gregorio del Pilar, from Our Islands And Their People, 1899. Ortigas Library Collection

With Goyo’s peccadillos revealed and accepted as the masculine norm, we return to the crucial Philippine American war.

Apolinario Mabini (Epi Quizon), prominent in Luna, continues his sphinx-like pronouncements of the state of the nation. He has left the Aguinaldo cabinet soon after Luna’s death and was also to the left of Aguinaldo’s growing pro-American cabal. He has some profound, hurting lines about his countrymen, apropos still to today’s current congress. He calls Aguinaldo’s people a bunch of clowns. And given the behavior of the populace, a propensity for a good time over serious affairs, Mabini declares not once but twice that we are deserving to be called children. It’s an “ouch” but an irrevocable one till, perhaps, we get our act together.

Mabini has grown since the last movie, only fitting since he was at the early stage of the Aguinaldo cabinet very confident of its independent direction. Now, it seems unlikely. When eventually, Aguinaldo pays him a call, goads him to return and offers him the position of chief justice, Mabini accepts with a heavy heart uttering his acceptance only for the country’s sake.

Meanwhile, Goyo has flashbacks of a bloodied Col. Bernal yapping and tormenting him, literally dying of laughter. One night, in a drunken stupor in the river he deludes himself with blood coming out of his mouth, thinking his life is over under water. We witness a premonition of his death and possibly, the failure of his allegiance to Aguinaldo.

These intermittent nightmares are exacerbated by news of the Americans in Manila playing hardball: they first push the Filipino soldiers further away from laying siege on the Spaniards in Manila. In a meeting between Aguinaldo’s emissary, General Alejandrino (Alvin Anson) and American Generals Elwell Otis (Edward Rocha) and Arthur MacArthur (Miguel Faustmann) the Americans have only the mindset that the Filipinos possess a rogue president thus insinuating its army illegitimate and the fledgling republic an illusory sham to be vanquished. Luna, sadly six feet under, seems to have been right not to trust the Americans at all.

The American forces head north to put to rout the remaining Filipino forces and capture Aguinaldo. It is a demoralizing spectacle, a long trail of soldiers and civilians, on foot, reaching towns friendly or otherwise, scrounging for food moving northward and arduously ascending the Cordillera Mountains.

The sacrifices and misery inflicted on citizens are visually articulated in this movie with extras in the hundreds if not thousands, multiplied ably by visual effects. As a photo-historian, I find several instances in the movie where the melding of a scene, replicating a pose, imprinted as a photograph quite moving. Gen. del Pilar poses with an air, leaning on his sword. In another, in full military regalia astride his favorite white horse and flanked by his men the moving act of the pose and later, stilled and embedded in an albumen print galvanizes in the viewers the authenticity of the Boy General. He is a real historical figure, the army commanded was real and their earnestness in the love for a country real as well.

In the mountains, Aguinaldo moves ahead to elude capture ordering Gen. del Pilar with 60 men to be the rear guard on a mountainous pass called Tirad. Despite the ideal vantage point, seeing where the enemy is, the Filipinos are outmanned and sharpshooters of the 33rd Volunteer Infantry manage to take deadly aim even from below, at the Filipinos up on the ridge.

This last of the fighting scene is excruciating and as every Filipino soldier falls dead, the enchanting Cordillera mountains undulate in gratitude and sadness. The sharpshooters reach the top and Gen del Pilar is the last to retreat and eventually shot, and his whole body stripped of his possession and clothing. The Americans recognized the young general’s bravery and scrambled for mementoes of him.

Aside from the exquisite needle-point handkerchief given to him by Remedios, stripped by the soldiers from his bag, there was his diary with a last entry the day before. There are several varying accounts of his entry but I rely on Marcial Lichauco’s American Conquest of The Philippines which cites the war correspondent Richard Henry Little’s transcript of Gen del Pilar’s diary.

It reads “The general (Aguinaldo) had given me the pick of the men that can be spared and ordered me to defend the pass. I realize what a terrible task is given to me. And yet I feel that this is the most glorious moment of my life. What I do is done for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be too great.”

This movie’s historical period has parallels with today’s troubling events. The American forces, the ascending imperial power then, went land-grabbing and eventually took over the land. Today’s new Chinese imperial power, is starting with some of our islands and we are in bated breath as to what’s next.

Unquestioning loyalties to strongmen like Aguinaldo resulted in numerous failures and even needless deaths. There seems to be a thread with that and today’s strongman Duterte.

Mabini has the most unkind cut of all, declaring us as unfit children not to be trusted. Are we still that today, Lacking a a mature political will and incapable of making our country liveable and fulfilling to all? I’m afraid it’s still a long way off.

The movie is powerful and blends the right amount of romance and levity in a serious historical narrative. It will require thinking caps for all who want to see the best of outcomes for our country. Goyo soberly points us in the right direction. #

The author is the executive director of the Ortigas Foundation Library. 


Marcos all over again, women journalists on Women’s Day say

History is repeating itself, Filipino women journalists said at a forum on the role of women in Philippine media at the University of the Philippines last Thursday, International Working Women’s Day.

Eminent women journalists likened the Rodrigo Duterte government to Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law for its many attacks against press freedom at the Women Talk Back: We are not All Vagina forum at the College of Mass Communication Auditorium.

“The media may seem free but many are afraid. There is a chilling effect,” broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon said.

The Duterte government has been condemned for its attacks against critical media outfits such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN, Rappler, Catholic Media Network, Kodao, among others.

Duterte himself has been criticized for his rants and threats against journalists and catcalling broadcaster Mariz Umali on live television.

Broadcaster Kara David for her part criticized Malacañan Palace’s statement that people should look beyond Duterte’s jokes and instead look at his pro-women record as Davao City mayor.

David said that while Davao City has pro-women programs, it still does not look good to see a leader who constantly makes derogatory jokes and sexist remarks.

“These impacts big against women,” she said, adding Duterte should be kicked out if he were a student.

Veteran journalists, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Cheche Lazaro, Melinda de Jesus, Chuchay Fernandez, Malu Mangahas and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines acting chairperson Jo Clemente were resource persons at the forum.

Recalling her experiences under the Marcos dictatorship, Lazaro said history is repeating itself under the Duterte government. # (Report and photo by Maricon Montajes)