For the Bicolanos, there are two historic events in September 2022 that we remember, and both happened fifty years ago.
The first is the tragic collapse of the original wooden Colgante Bridge on September 16, 1972, as the Fluvial Procession of Divino Rostro and Our Lady of Penafrancia was going on. One hundred thirty eight lives were claimed by the unfortunate incident, killed by electrocution from the live wires that fell or hit by debris. Some accounts of the incident revealed that before the bridge fell, the devotees felt that it was beginning to sway. This news hit the pages of the Manila Bulletin the following day. I was an active member of the Naga City Jaycees at this time, and we provided assistance in retrieving and identifying some of the victims’ bodies. I vividly remember to this day, that there was one victim whose body remained unclaimed by relatives days after the incident, and we took on the task of burying him. We remember the souls of Ina’s devotees who died on that day.
The other historic day to remember happened a few days after this tragedy, somehow overshadowed by the Colgante Bridge story that became a nationwide news. This was the declaration of Martial Law through Proclamation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972. This declaration happened two days after the document was prepared and signed, thus making the actual anniversary of Martial Law declaration September 23, and not September 21. It is said that as early as the 17th of September, the US Embassy in Manila already knew of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos’ plan. Incidents leading up to this event were the privilege speech of then Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr on September 13, exposing what was called the “Oplan Sagittarius”, and earlier, the series of bombings in Metro Manila which included the Plaza Miranda bombing of 1971, at a political rally of the Liberal Party. This bombing caused nine deaths and injured ninety-five people that included the late Senator Jovito Salonga, then Liberal Party President Gerardo Roxas, then senators Eva Estrada-Kalaw, Sergio Osmena, Jr, Eddie Ilarde, then congressman Ramon Mitra, Jr and then Liberal Party Manila mayoral candidate Ramon Bagatsing. Senator Salonga was said to have been the one most seriously injured.
We know that the actual declaration of Martial Law was the 23rd of September if we recall that the pretext used by Marcos, Sr. for this declaration, the staged “ambush” of then Secretary of Defense Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s convoy, happened on September 22, 1972.
Historical remembrance is the antidote to what has been referred to as the historical amnesia of the Filipino people. It is history that helps us to understand the present, and it is the present that guides us to make informed and wiser choices about the future.
Let us continue passing on these stories to the next generation. It is our duty to do so.
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK:
“THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM HISTORICAL AMNESIA REMAIN AS CHILDREN AND LIVE IN AN ILLUSION” - CHRIS HEDGES
FOR OUR WORD OF LIFE:
“DO NOT FORSAKE WISDOM, AND SHE WILL PROTECT YOU; LOVE HER, AND SHE WILL WATCH OVER YOU.” - PROVERBS 4:6-7