Remembering 11,103

By Herman M. Lagon

The recent screening of the award-winning documentary “11,103” in our school, the Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST), deeply impacted its Gen Z and Alpha audience. Held recently as part of the two-day “Hilway: Human Rights, Peace Education, and 11,103 Film Screening” event, this powerful documentary delved into the grim experiences of survivors from the martial law era, prompting a solid emotional and intellectual response from the 600 students and faculty who were in attendance.

Several university offices and student organizations collaborated to organize the screening, which was offered free of charge thanks to the support of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission (HRVVMC) and Dakila. This crucial project was designed to educate the “ulihing tubo”—the next generation—about the significance of human rights and the vital importance of remembering and learning from our past.

Many attendees shed tears or sat in silent contemplation as the film was shown and eventually unpacked in a forum with HRVVMC Executive Director Chuck Crisanto and Martial Law activist Engr. Nonong Bretaña. The success of the documentary in teaching its audience and emotionally resonating with them was highlighted by a post-event survey that revealed a considerable shift in the participants’ awareness of the consequences of the years of martial law.

“11,103” explores the tragic experiences of individuals who were subjected to state-sponsored brutality under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. In the documentary, directed by Jeannette Ifurung (Batas Militar) and Mike Alcazaren (Patay Kung Patay), the horrific reality that thousands of people who were imprisoned, tortured, raped, or slain were forced to endure is shown vividly through its actual victims. Additionally, it honors the resiliency of these victims and emphasizes the significance of recognizing their pain.

Republic Act No. 10368, passed in 2013, compensated 11,103 victims through monies drawn from Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’s ill-gotten wealth. This measure is essential in acknowledging the evils, brutalities, and destitutions, as opposed to the fake “golden years” of martial law, and recognizing the nation’s sad history that almost surgically annihilated a generation of selfless leaders and brought down the country in the socio-economic abyss.

The documentary format personalizes and amplifies the effect of these historical events, splitting the narrative into chapters named after the victims. The film’s straightforward and unvarnished presentation of the survivors’ experiences avoids romanticizing the suffering and instead provides a portrayal that is both real and authentic of each survivor’s story.

To bridge historical gaps, “11,103” combines subjective first-person accounts and artistic depictions. Traditional footage may not be able to depict the depth of the survivors’ trauma and resilience in the same way as hand-drawn graphics and animations do. Still, these elements give a striking visual layer to the survivors’ testimonies.

The film’s narrative expands beyond Manila’s confines, highlighting lesser-known stories from northern and southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This broadens the historical scope, reminding viewers that martial law had widespread effects, affecting various places around the country.

The filmmakers prioritize accessibility and education, as seen by their decision to distribute the documentary through free or subsidized community screenings. In this way, the message conveyed by the film can reach many people and raise awareness at a broader level.

In addition, “11,103” discusses the difficulties many survivors encounter when accessing the government’s compensation program. These difficulties include the need to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and the emotional barriers that come with recalling prior traumatic experiences. This challenge is faced not just by the 11,103 recognized victims but also by the 70,000 who were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and over 3,200 who were killed during the nine years of Martial Law terror, according to Amnesty International.

A riveting reminder of the significance of recalling and gaining knowledge from the past, “11,103” is more than just a movie. The documentary’s candid depiction of the atrocities committed during the Martial Law era underscores the ongoing need to champion human rights, fight for true democracy, and seek social justice. Its profound impact on our community at ISUFST ensures that the experiences of the 11,103 acknowledged victims and the 100,000+ others will not fade from memory, demonstrating the film’s ability to educate and inspire. #NeverForget #NeverAgain

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Schools or organizations interested in screening “11,103” may direct message (DM) the NGO Dakila or the Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism on their FB page: Dakila.

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Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.

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