According to Pociano Pineda, youth activism in 1970-72 was due to domestic and worldwide causes. Activism is connected with the history of our Filipino youth.
Because of the ills of society, the youth moved to seek reforms. Some continued to believe that the democratic government is stable and that it is only the people running the government who are at fault. Some believed that socialism or communism should replace democracy. Some armed groups were formed to bring down the democratic form of government. Many young people became activists to ask for changes in the government. In the expression of this desire for change, keen were the writings of some youth who were fired with nationalism in order to emphasize the importance of their petitions.
Many young activists were imprisoned in military camps together with rebel writers.
As early as this period of history we can say that many of those writers who were imprisoned were true nationalists and heroes of their time. Many books aptly record and embody these times but many of these are not known to many and many of these writers still have to be interviewed. We just leave to scholars and researchers the giving of credit where credit is due.
A. THE SEED OF ACTIVISM
The seeds of activism resulted in the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. We can, however, say that he seeds were earlier sown from the times of Lapu-lapu, Lakandula, and Rizal. The revolution against the powerful forces in the Philippines can be said to be the monopoly of the youth in whose veins flow the fire in their blood. What Rizal said of the youth being the hope of the Fatherland –is still valid even today.
B. PERIOD OF THE BLOODY PLACARDS
Pineda also said that this was the time when the youth once more proved that it is not the constant evasion that shapes our race and nationalism.
There is a limit to one’s patience. It may explode like a volcano if overstrained.
Life? What avails like if one is a coward who does not take a stand for himself and for the succeeding generations?
C. THE LITERARY REVOLUTION
The youth became completely rebellious during this period. This was proven not only in the bloody demonstrations and in the sidewalk expressions but also in literature. Campus newspapers showed rebellious emotions. The once aristocratic writers developed awareness for society. They held pens and wrote on placards in red paint the equivalent of the word MAKIBAKA (To dare!).
They attacked the ills of society and politics.
Any establishment became the symbol of the ills that had to be changed. The frustrations of youth could be felt in churches and school.
Even the priests, teachers and parents, as authorities who should be respected became targets of the radical youth and were though of as hindrances to the changes they sought The literature of the activists reached a point where they stated boldly what should be done to effect these changes.
Some of those who rallied to this revolutionary form of literature were Rolando Tinio, Rogelio Mangahas, Efren Abueg, Rio Alma, and Clemente Bautista.
WRITING DURING THE PERIOD OF ACTIVISM
The irreverence for the poor reached its peak during this period of the mass revolution. It was also during this period that Bomba films that discredit our ways as Filipinos started to come out..
PALANCA AWARDEES FOR LITERATURE IN ENGLISH
(Established in 1950, the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature had been giving cash prizes for short story, poetry and one-act play writing as an incentive to Filipino writers. The prizes come from La Tondena, Inc., the firm founded by the late Carlos Palanca Sr. For the list of winners from 1950-51 to 1960-70, we recommended Alberto S. Florentino’s “Twenty Years of Palanca Awards.”)
ENGLISH SHORT STORY
First Prize –“THE RITUAL”–Cirilo F. Bautista
Second Prize –“BEAST IN THE FIELDS”–Resil Mojares
Third Prize –“CHILDREN OF THE CITY”–Amadis Ma. Guerrero
First Prize –“THE ARCHIPELAGO”–Cirilo F. Bautista
Second Prize –“FIVE POEMS”–Wilfredo Pascua Sanchez
Third Prize –“FROM MACTAN TO MENDIOLA”–Frederico Licsi Espino Jr.
ENGLISH ONE-ACT PLAY
First Prize –“THE GROTESQUE AMONG US”–Maiden Flores ENGLISH POETRY
First Prize –“THE TOMATO GAME”–N.V.M. Gonzales
Second Prize –“THE APOLLO CENTENNIAL”–Gregorio C. Brillantes
Third Prize –“AFTER THIS, OUR EXILE”–Elsa Martinez Coscolluela
First Prize –“BATIK MAKER AND OTHER POEMS”–Virginia R. Moreno
Second Prize –“THE EDGE OF THE WIND”–Artemio Tadena
Third Prize –“TINIKLING (A SHEAF OF POEMS)”–Frederico Licsi Espino Jr.
First Prize –“GRAVE FOR BLUE FLOWER”–Jesus T. Peralta
Second Prize –“THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY”–Manuel M. Martell
Third Prize –The judges recommend that in as much as the three third prize winners especially deserve, the prize of P 1,000.00 be divided among these three:
“THE BOXES”–Rolando S. Tinio
“NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR COUNTRY”–Julian E. Dacanay
“THE RENEGADE”–Elsa Martinez Coscolluela WRITERS DURING THIS PERIOD
Jose F. Lacaba, in his book DAYS OF DISQUIET, NIGHTS OF RAGE; THE FIRST QUARTERS STORM AND RELATED EVENTS, wrote of the tragic and tumultuous moments in our country’s history.
Describing this period, he writes: “That first quarter of the year 1970…It was a glorious time, a time of terror and of wrath, but also a time for hope. The signs of change were on the horizon.
A powerful storm was sweeping the land, a storm whose inexorable advance no earthly force could stop, and the name of the storm was history.” He mentions that those students demonstrating at that time knew and were aware that what they were doing would be crucial to our country’s history. Student leaders thought up grandiose names for their organizations and hence, the proliferation of acronyms likes SUCCOR, YDS, KTPD, SAGUPA, SMP, KKK, KM, MDP, and SDK.
Politicians endorsed bills for those who interfered with student demonstrators.
Mayor Antonio Villegas himself, on Feb. 18, 1970, led demonstrators away from angry policemen. Other politicians like Eva Estrada Kalaw, and Salvador Laurel, Benigno Aquino Jr. wrote about condemnation of police brutalities. Lacaba’s book is truly representative of writers who were eyewitnesses to this time “of terror and wrath.”
Other writers strove to pour out their anguish and frustrations in words describing themselves as “gasping for the air, thirsting for the water of freedom.”Thus, the Philippine Center for the International PEN (Poets, Essayists, and Novelists) held a conference centering on the “writer’s lack of freedom in a climate of fear.” For a day they denounced restrictions on artistic freedom and passionately led a plea for freedom. Among the writers in this group were: Nick Joaquin, S.P. Lopez, Gregorio Brillantes, F. Sionil Jose, Petronilo Daroy, Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, Mauro Avelina, and Jose W. Diokno.
People in the other media participated in this quest for freedom. Journalists Jose Burgos Jr., Antonio Ma. Nieva,; movie director Lino Brocka, art critic Anna Leah S. de Leon were battling head –on against censorship. They came up with resolutions that pleaded for causes other than their own –like the general amnesty for political prisoners, and other secret decrees restricting free expression.
They requested editors and publishers to publish the real names of writers in their columns. It called on media to disseminate information on national interest without partisan leanings and resolved to be united with all causes decrying oppression and repression.