Martial law's dark days remembered online

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Metro Manila (CNN Philppines, September 17) — It's telling history through art – and with a lasting imprint through technology.

Boni Ilagan is a witness to the horrors of martial law. He was a student leader at the time who protested human rights violations during the Marcos regime. He was arrested in 1974.

"Ang sistema [The system was], the neck and the feet of the torture victim would be on two platforms so virtually you're like a bridge... They would pummel my tummy with punches every time that i didn't answer their questions to their satisfaction," Ilagan said.

He was freed after more than two years, but his sister was abducted next. She is missing to this day, and is considered a desaparecido, a description for persons who could not be found since martial law.

The stories of the Ilagan siblings are among those featured on, an online platform of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) that talks about the struggles of Filipinos during the Marcos regime.

"People, they have to be informed that they are not alone in this struggle. The martial law museum allows them to understand why is it important to make a stand or to do something and to know also that there are also people out there making same efforts to defend the truth of martial law," said Arjan Aguirre, a political science instructor.

Maria Diokno Sereno, former National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson, said there are efforts to revise history by minimizing, denying, twisting, and embellishing facts about martial law.

"This kind of thinking endangers our freedom...When you preempt or soften martial law and Mr. Marcos' role in it, you naturally deny that we were deprived of our rights and profess instead that our struggle was a needless, worthless exercise," Sereno said.

The online site is a retelling of history through art with visual timelines, short films, poems, and artwork.

Artists, scholars, and students set up the portal ahead of the 45th anniversary of the martial law declaration on Sept. 21.

But the portal did not escape attacks from online trolls.

"They aim to mock or undermine the very initiative that we have by ridiculing some of the points and claims we make on the website...The number two challenge involves the pessimism or cynicism of some people that they feel that it's kind of hopeless to have this initiative," Aguirre said.

Ilagan, a martial law survivor, says this pushes him to tell his story again and again.

"After all, kapag hindi natutunan ng ating mga kabataan ang mga aral ng kasaysayan, we are bound to repeat the tragedy of the past," he said.

[Translation: After all, when our young people do not learn the lessons of history. We are bound to repeat the tragedy of the past.]

It's his way of telling the next generations: We will never forget the dark days of martial rule.