Cebuanos sing against Bongbong Marcos

#NoMoreMarcos #NeverAgain #NeverForget

The shrill reactions of a handful of loyalists — of course with their dozens of dummy Facebook accounts — exposed something they could barely hide. They wished the concert never happened. But over 2,500 Cebuanos flocked to Plaza Independencia last April 17, 2016 for the “Cebu Against Marcos – The Concert.”

We listened to local alternative bands as we sang along with familiar songs of guest performers from Manila. From time to time, we chanted “No More Marcos. Never Again.” The loyalists, on the other hand, kept insisting only flies and mosquitoes came.

The lie that the Marcos years were the best, repeated a thousand times, still remains a lie. And a concert extolling the truth poses danger to that lie.





Marcos_victims, anti-Bongbong_campaign, Cebu, Philippines
Lighting candles in memory of  victims of the Marcos dictatorship.


A constant pro-Bongbong litany involves rants on the failures and shortcomings of the administration President Noynoy Aquino but with a twist. Bongbong is presented as the alternative.

The pro-Bongbong narrative hits those against his candidacy as pro-Aquino. Loyalists gleefully label anti-Bongbong partisans as “Yellowtards.” But they are simply wrong.

Yes, there are supporters of Cong. Leni Robredo within the Anti-Bongbong Coalition (ABC). But there are also supporters of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Karl Ramirez_and_Boogs_Villareal, Cebu_Against_Marcos
Karl Ramirez and Boogs Villareal

Listening to the music of Andres, a local alternative music band, along with Karl Ramirez and Boogs Villareal of ReverbNation, one should get a sense that the anti-Bongbong narrative goes beyond the Aquino-Marcos dynasties.

Thus, Karl and Boogs, two millennials who had not tasted the dictatorship, alludes to a change that is national democratic in “Pagbabago.”

“Laban natin ay tama
Tunay na reporma ng lupa
Makabulohang trabaho
At pagtatayo ng industriya ng bansa”

Noel_Cabangon, Cebu_Against_Marcos
Noel Cabangon

Noel Cabangon, on the other hand, opened his set with the “Tatsulok” that calls for ending the present system ruled by the political dynasties.

“Hindi pulat dilaw tunay na magkalaban
Ang kulay at tatak ay di syang dahilan
Hangga’t marami ang lugmok sa kahirapan
At ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman

Habang may tatsulok at sila ang nasa tuktok
Di matatapos itong gulo.”

Jim_Paredes, APO_Hiking_Society

Jim Paredes of the Apo Hiking Society brought me back a lifetime when we began trying to figure out the opposite sex with songs like “Ewan.” But those were the years when we also started exercising our rights as we wakened to bigger realities. Memories streamed as we sang along with “Batang Bata Ka Pa …”

“Alam ko na may karapatan ang bawat nilalang
Kahit bata pa man, kahit bata pa man

Nais ko sana malaman ang mali sa katotohanan
Sariling pagraranas ang pamamagitan
Imulat ang isipan sa mga kulay ng buhay
Maging tunay na malaya
‘Sang katangi-tanging bata”

Clenched_fist, Cebu_Against_Marcos
Clenched fist
Clenched_fists during anti_Marcos_concert
Spotted: Judge Menmen Paredes and Ka Bino Guerrero

Bayang Barrios and Cookie Chua, led the assembly sing the anthem of the anti-dictatorship movement, “Bayan Ko.”

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal-dilag
Ang ‘di magnasang makaalpas

Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha at dalita
Aking adhika
Makita kang sakdal laya

Bayang Barrios_and_Cookie_Chua


Street_Art, Cebu_Against_Marcos
This is work by street artists in Cebu City who joined Cebu Against Marcos — The Concert. This painting was stolen along with the tarpaulin backdrop after the concert.

Attention all anti-Marcos advocates. Feel free to post your comments below. Please share this post to friends and family in your social media channels.

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More photos:

Minnie Osmena, Menmen Paredes, Cebu
Minnie Osmena, daughter of Serging and elder sister of Tomas, talks briefly with Judge Menmen Paredes as Susan Echaves.

Fr. Rudy Romano — 25 years na

THE human rights rally at the Redemptorist rotunda reached some 3,000 the first time I coordinated with Fr. Rosaleo ‘Rudy’ Romano as rally marshal for the delegation from the University of San Carlos (USC) way back in December 1979. I remember the mass action as much bigger and more militant despite the threat of arrest and dispersal we faced then compared to the one I saw at the same rotunda last July 11, 2010.

The event last Sunday commemorated the 25th year since military men abducted Fr. Romano and fellow anti-dictatorship activist Levi Ybanez on July 11, 1985 and triggered a wave of giant militant protests in Cebu months before the then President Ferdinand Marcos called for a snap election and the subsequent EDSA 1 in February 1986.

The commemoration however was much smaller, attended by some 500 mostly young people who were not around when these historic events transpired, compared to the rallies during those dark years under the dictatorship.

It was much smaller even compared to that human rights day rally in 1979 when majority of the population were still afraid to come out into the open, an event that transpired before the freedom marches in Cebu and the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.

Fr. Rudy was head marshal during that fateful human rights day. Despite the absence of a rally permit, the throng marched from the rotunda to Fuente Osmena where anti-riot policemen and a firetruck awaited our arrival. The martial law authorities obviously knew our plans but we pushed on with the plans.

After we arrived at the Fuente skating rink with arms linked (kapit-bisig) — I think it was already 5 pm. — the firetruck approached and began hosing us when orders for dispersal went unheeded.  Moments later, a platoon of anti-riot policemen advanced from behind us. A team nabbed Fr. Romano. Drenched and frightened, we ran to different directions to escape arrest but later regrouped spontaneously to demand Fr. Romano’s immediately release.

The late human rights stalwart Jose ‘Pepe’ Diokno, who was due to leave for Manila after speaking before the crowd that afternoon, returned and joined us that night until the police released Fr. Romano.

The numbers, militance, excitement, and dispersal then was a stark contrast to the gathering of around 500 who called on the new administration of President Noynoy Aquino for justice in the Romano case and the rest of the disappeared since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

Perhaps Filipinos today are already lulled by the so-called democratic space that saw the dramatic electoral victory of President Noynoy and thus the small number who remembered last Sunday.

But the continued disappearances and assassinations of political dissidents despite the return to democracy show that significant remnants and vestiges of dictatorship remain. Unless we achieve justice for Fr. Romano, Levi and the rest of human rights victims through the decades, President Noynoy’s promise of change remains basically meaningless.

With his huge electoral mandate, I hope President Noynoy will succeed in going beyond removing such symbols of elitist abuse like the “wang-wang.”

Fr. Rudy Romano

I hope local human rights advocates will still remember to commemorate the abduction of Redemptorist priest Fr. Rudy Romano and Levi Ybanez tomorrow, July 11. The two were abducted by armed agents of the Marcos dictatorship way back on July 11, 1985.

Their disappearance triggered an avalanche of protests in CEbu that was grew larger until the February 1986 revolt in Metro Manila.

I personally knew Fr. Rudy being a staff in the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and several multisectoral protest groups before this like the Coalition Against People’s Persecution (Capp), the Nagkahiusang Sugbo alang sa Demokrasya (Nasud) and the Cebu Oust Marcos Movement to Advance Nationalism and Democracy (Command).

I was with him in the picket lines, in anti-Marcos rallies, and in secret meetings to plot out the Cebu protest movements next moves either with our politician allies at the house of the late Inday Nita Cortes-Daluz, at our secret meeting places in local religious houses, or in private residences.

Shortly after Edsa, I helped organize some annual commemorative activities when I was active with Selda, a group of former political detainees.

Fr. Frank Connon, who succeeded Fr. Romano as head of the Redemptorist JUstice and Peace office in CEbu, contracted me to go through Fr. Rudy’s files to help Lillette Santos, then of the Philippine News and Features (PNF), write a book about Fr. Rudy.

So far I have postponed writing my version of those years with Fr. Romano. Maybe sometime in the future after my current book project on the history of Naga City.