On The Day Martial Law Was Declared
September 23, 1972 was a Saturday and it was the correct day martial law was declared by then President of the Philippines, Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was actually on that day when dictatorship commenced and not September 21, 1972 which the dictator himself made us to believe. I am one with former Senator Rene Saguisag in saying that September 21 commemoration is a “myth” and a “superstition” that the dictator even made us celebrate as Thanksgiving Day throughout his almost nine (9) years of one-man rule. I was then in 4th year college and I still distinctly remember that day in my life.
As a college student from a nearby province, I was staying then as a bed spacer in a boarding house near the university district in the City of Manila. Among my co-boarders were hardcore student activists who always join protest rallies and demonstrations against Marcos who was in his second and last term which was to end in 1973. In those days, violent student protests which gained roots since the so-called First Quarter Storm (January to March 1970) were almost daily occurrences and the would-be dictator used the unrest as a major cause for declaring martial law that lasted until its fake lifting in January 17, 1981.
The morning of September 23, 1972 was almost like any day in our boarding house except that I noticed the absence of two (2) co-boarders. They were the ones who told me that Marcos would soon declare martial law in order to extend his stay at the presidency a few days before it happened. Knowing that they could just be busy preparing for more protest actions, I did not worry about them until I received a phone call at noontime of that fateful day. One of them called to tell me that Marcos had signed the declaration of martial and that they are among those in the list to be arrested. I never heard about them after that.
There was a television set in our boarding house so in an effort to verify the information, I requested our landlady to open it without telling her why. It was then that we knew that there was no TV and radio stations broadcasting on that day. Later, at early evening, the government TV station came alive with the strongman himself, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, making the announcement that he indeed has declared martial, two days earlier. On hindsight, aside from his being superstitious, I believe the dictator insisted that he declared martial law on September 21, 1972 to legalize the warrantless arrests done in the two days prior to the actual declaration of martial law in our country.