Sat, 23 Nov 2019

Screengrab from Inquirer.

OLD FRIENDS gather together because of shared connections in the past. So what's so bad about the reunion of the alumnae of the Kabataang Barangay (KB) in the UP Bahay ng Alumni? It struck a painful chord in the memories of those who stood against Martial Law in the same campus.

Cheers to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler and InterAksyon for reports which placed in context the role of the University of the Philippines in the anti-Marcos resistance and the role of the Kabataang Barangay (KB) in the consolidation of the Marcos regime.

KB members and former officers convened at the UP Bahay ng Alumni on August 25 to celebrate their 43rd anniversary. UP President Danilo Concepcion and Imee Marcos, both former KB Federation presidents, were in attendance.

The Inquirer was among the first to report the reunion on August 27. Other news organizations including Rappler, InterAksyon,, and followed suit, focusing their reports on the outrage of members of the UP community, among them former Social Welfare Secretary and retired UP professor Judy Taguiwalo, several members of the faculty of the state university and youth groups, Anakbayan and STAND UP. ("UP faculty, students, staff: Campus no place for early Marcos campaign,""UP student council hits ‘insulting' Imee Marcos, Kabataang Barangay reunion")

After Concepcion apologized to his UP constituents, the news picked up more critical reactions against the university's top official. ("'Regret' fails to quell criticisms vs. UP president")

The Inquirer report was also the first to recall the imprisonment and death of student-activist Archimedes Trajano who had publicly questioned President Ferdinand Marcos' appointment of his daughter Imee as first KB president. ("Imee, Kabataang Barangay members reunite at UP")

The report also quoted several other personalities who protested the event. UPD Student Council chair Yael Toribio said that it was not just an insult to the university's history, but also to the victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances during Martial Law. Playwright Bonifacio Ilagan linked the event to a strategy of the Marcoses' plans to "resurrect the dead" for the coming elections.

Rappler quoted several academics who said that the creation of the KB was a counterforce to the anti-Marcos youth group, the leftist Kabataang Makabayan. Rappler also highlighted the similarities and differences between the KB and its successor, the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). ("Kabataang Barangay: Get to know the forerunner of the Sangguniang Kabataan")

Meanwhile, InterAksyon recalled how the KB was created by Presidential Decree No. 684 and how Marcos' ouster in 1986 rendered the federation obsolete. ("History and controversy of 'Kabataang Barangay' goes back to Martial Law era")

Belying Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos' claim that millennials have moved on from Martial Law, it seems that the students of the University of the Philippines have neither forgiven, nor forgotten atrocities suffered by victims at the time.

In a previous monitor, CMFR noted the role of the media in providing a historical perspective to current issues and events. Facts and context are needed in a time when social media speeds up the dissemination of false narratives about the Marcos dictatorship. ("Eyes Wide Open While Some Media Turn a Blind Eye to Marcos History")

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