Now Reading: 47 YEARS AFTER MARTIAL LAW | How music shaped an era of revolution
47 YEARS AFTER MARTIAL LAW | How music shaped an era of revolution
September 21, 2019 , 09:50 AM

By Audrie Bernas

SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 —Lest the whole nation forgets what a fascist regime looked like when Martial Law was imposed 47 years ago, it is also crucial thought how music carved an emotional uprising in the backends of our conscience and consciousness as a people.

Considered to be one of the most turbulent periods in the country’s history, the era saw the rise of many social and cultural commentary presented in the art scene. Perhaps music remains to be its mysterious counterpart. To what end did artists unsparingly define a tyrannical rule?

Overt, radical protest songs bolstered a channel of consensus in the anti-Marcos movement.

But in the altar of anthems, it was “Bayan Ko” that resembled the musical prayer of the time. It saved souls from the purgatory of indifference, so much that it washed away the original sin of the Adam and Eve of viper politics in Malacañang.

The song would later stir a choir of freedom-loving Filipinos who gallantly recited the lyrical praise of “Bayan Ko” and its promise of democratic ressurection that culminated in the tumultous Edsa People Power.

It was deemed seditious by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos when he imposed Martial Law in 1972. Public performances of the song were banned, with potential arrest and detention as punishment.

But the more the song gained infamy among the higher ups, the more the masses equally returned the favor. In 1983, the people trooped the streets for Sen. Benigno Aquino’s funeral, belting out the anthem, and again in 1986 with OPM legend Freddie Aguilar leading the crowd.


The sound of resistance

Music’s role in the public sphere during the Martial Law years can be described as a set of protests by those who resisted the dictatorship, in the same breath as how films empowered the ideals of a revolution against the repressive administration.

Political communication has long been a part of civic engagement over the years, with artists intermixing their own treatment. Issue-wise, the songs back then were deeply visceral in shooing away whatever pestered the mother land—be it corruption, tyranny or modern colonization.

In Joey Ayala’s “Wala Nang Tao Sa Sta. Filomena,” he lamented the ingrained threat of displacement among the Lumad peoples or the indigenous tribes that resided in the mountains. This could be traced to Marcos troopers who hamletted innumerable villages across the country for market-driven acquisitions.

“Pagka’t wala nang tao sa Sta. Filomena
Walang aani sa alay ng lupa.
Nakayuko ang palay, tila bang nalulumbay”

Released in 1981, seemingly an ode for farmers and their displaced lands, the song recounted the story of villagers who have fled their homes and livelihood to save themselves from the soldiers, who ironically vowed to protect the people, somehow a narrow depiction of militarization in their land.

Another blunt memoir of unsparing criticism against the Marcoses was “Oras Na,” an historic medley from protest singer-songwriter Coritha. It resonated among street parliamentarians, particularly in the persona of Satur Ocampo.

“Ang takot ay nasa isip lamang,” as Cory Aquino quoted the song in her 1986 People Power speech. The song revolutionized the Filipino psyche, subsequently echoing the people’s longing to spew the venom of vehemence that palmed and paled the strongman and his ilk: Tama na, sobra na!

The song resurfaced at the high point of Joseph Estrada’s ouster in 2001. The singer herself even rendered the song in front of 100,000 rallyists at Edsa Shrine. Indeed, the masa’s musical expressionism is really timeless.


Against subjugation

Broadening the scope of discontent and protest against the economic injustices committed by the Marcos regime, the political currents between that fateful date in 1972 and 1986 saw sweeping numbers of shifts in social actions and artistic expressions.

Parallel with the activists’ movements was the conjoined, galvanized culture of nationalism. “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy,” from the so-called “protest” band Banyuhay, carries the trademark assessment that we are no one’s slave, not even the Marcoses who kowtowed to U.S. hegemony for personal interests.

With the strengthened cultivation of activism and the growing number of reformists and its radicals, anything that smells of Western peopling and pretension is a threat that has to be addressed in poem and protest, as well as mantra and melody.

There may be no direct connections as to how the song began to mandate dissent among the masses. But it grew stronger by the day, with the song becoming a figure of identity.

“Dito sa Silangan, tayo’y isinilang
Kung saan nagmumula ang sikat ng araw
Subalit nasaan ang sikat ng araw
Ba’t tayo ang humahanga doon sa Kanluran?”

Forty-seven years later, the music that defined a generation remains the same.

But now, the uprising is more than protest or performance.

It is a song that feeds the emotional ear.

And rids the people of political fear.

More From News5
Aksyon year-ender part 2: Politics
Electoral protest vs. VP Robredo, mga kaso ng pamilya Marcos at ang hatol sa Maguindanao Massacre ang ilan sa mga mainit na balitang nangibabaw ngayong taon.
Published On: January 7, 2020
US senator, inihirit ang patas na paglilitis kay Sen. De Lima
Pinayuhan naman ni Sen. Bong Go ang mga US senators na kumakampi kay Sen. Leila De lima na huwag makialam sa mga proseso sa Pilipinas. | via Ria Fernandez
Published On: January 7, 2020
Bakit kaya tutol si mommy sa relasyon ng kanyang anak at boyfriend nito?
Humingi ng tulong si Larry sa #WantedsaRadyo para maka-usap at makapiling ang bagong panganak niyang girlfriend na si Cladette. Ayaw daw kasi sa kanya ng pamilya ni Cladette lalo na ng kanyang biyenan na si nanay Eva. Makapiling pa kaya ni Larry ang kanyang mag-ina?
Published On: January 7, 2020
Pres. Duterte, wala pang napiling susunod na PNP chief
Inatasan muna ni Pres. Rodrigo Duterte si DILG Sec. Eduardo Año na hawakan ang pamumuno sa PNP.
Published On: January 7, 2020
SWS: 65% ng mga Pilipino, gustong tapusin ang martial law sa Mindanao
Una nang sinabi ni Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana na hindi niya inirekomenda kay Pres. Rodrigo Duterte na palawigin pa ang batas militar sa Mindanao.
Published On: January 7, 2020
Grocery shopping nina Raffy Tulfo at Alex Gonzaga
Top trending sa YouTube ang video ng pagsama ni Alex Gonzaga kay News5 anchor Raffy Tulfo sa isang grocery.
Published On: January 7, 2020
Rizal Day 2019
Pinangunahan ni Pres. Rodrigo Duterte ang paggunita sa Araw ni Rizal sa Digos, Davao del Sur. Habang si Mayor Isko Moreno naman ang nanguna sa pag-aalala nito sa Rizal Park.
Published On: January 7, 2020
US senators na kumampi kay Sen. De Lima, bawal na sa Pilipinas
Inutos ni Pres. Rodrigo Duterte na ipagbawal sa bansa ang dalawang US senators na nagsulong para bawalan din sa Amerika ang mga opisyal na may kaugnayan sa pagpapakulong kay Sen. Leila De Lima. | via Maricel Halili
Published On: January 7, 2020
Explainer | Visa Blues
Paano nga kaya kung ang mga Amerikano naman ngayon ang hihingan ng Philippine visa?
Published On: January 7, 2020
Kahulugan ng kantang '214,' ipinaliwanag ni Rico Blanco
"The Proposal" daw talaga ang title sana ng kanyang original composition pero binago niya ito.
Published On: January 7, 2020
Top Stories
AFTER RE-AUTOPSY | Duterte OKs total deployment ban to Kuwait
JANUARY 17, 2020 — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the labor department’s recommendation for a total deployment ban of overseas Fili
Published On: January 17, 2020
APPEAL TO LGUs | Refrain from using schools as evacuation centers – DepEd
BrionesJANUARY 17, 2020 – The education department appealed anew to local government units on Friday to avoid using schools as evacuation sit
Published On: January 17, 2020
TAAL’S WRATH | Fisheries suffer huge losses as farm damages reach P3 B
JANUARY 17, 2020 – Fisheries suffered heavy losses as the farm damages due to Taal volcano’s eruption in the southern Tagalog regions have
Published On: January 17, 2020
FALL FROM GRACE | DOJ charges Albayalde, 12 ‘ninja cops’ for graft
(JANUARY 16, 2020) – The justice department has filed graft charges against the former national police chief and a dozen other police officer
Published On: January 17, 2020
NEW CHIEF | Duterte appoints combat pilot as head of air force
(JANUARY 16,2020) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday installed a combat pilot who has served as commander of the presidential air unit a
Published On: January 16, 2020