Martial law survivors urge youth to fight for 'real history' ahead of Ninoy Aquino Day

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — Martial Law survivors on Thursday called on the youth to continue the fight for truth, as the country is set to commemorate the 39th death anniversary of democracy icon and former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. on Aug. 21.

The People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR), a network of volunteers against corruption, said it is banking on young people to "seek, preserve, secure, and share our real history."

"The [viruses] of distortion and revisionism have been plaguing our country for the past two decades," said Aleta Tolentino, chairperson of the PPVR. "We have to fight back and hard to regain our true history."

Anti-Marcos group August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM) lamented that the Filipinos let the Marcos family return to Malacañang 36 years after a “People Power” revolt toppled then dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. His son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is now the country's president.

Aquino, a leader of the opposition against Marcos, was gunned down at Manila's airport tarmac on Aug. 21, 1983, nearly three years before Marcos was booted out from power.

ATOM, which traces its roots back to the Martial Law era under the elder Marcos, said it was "heartbreaking" for those like them who fought for freedom from the years-long dictatorship.

But for Tolentino, their efforts over the past decades did not go down the drain, as the youth are hungry for change.

"Makikita niyo ngayon itong mga kabataan ay interesado upang halukayin ang katotohanan," she said.

[Translation: You can see how eager young people these days are to seek the truth.]

"This is the evidence that our efforts, our elders, were never in vain," she added.

Several groups that are part of the youth-led "Project Gunita" are coming together on Sunday to remember Aquino’s assassination.

A series of exhibits, talks, and testimonies — focusing on real-life stories leading to the dictatorship up to the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution — will be held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Martial law survivors expressed hope these will serve as a "wake up call" to Filipinos and bring back people power — just like when the icon of democracy died in 1983.