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Special Features | National

Memory Museum to capture terror of martial law gets Binay's support

A cell door---forbidding and evocative of the brutality of martial law---is among the images on display at the Museum of Courage and Resistance set up by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines. A bigger project, a "Memory Museum" drawing inspiration from similar initiatives in Latin America, is being planned. BERNARD TESTA, INTERAKSYON.COM
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -  Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, a human-rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship, has expressed full support for a plan to establish a Memory Museum dedicated to the struggle against Martial Law.

The Vice President hopes the Memory Museum, a project which he said was “close to his heart,” would be built in three years’ time. 

The proposal was pitched by the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), which are hosting a two-day workshop highlighted by the sharing of experiences with experts from Argentina, Chile and Peru, three of several Latin American countries that, like the Philippines, endured brutal years under military dictatorships in the seventies and early eighties.

Binay, an activist-lawyer who was detained during Martial Law, previously proposed the establishment of a similar Martial Law Museum, which he said would serve “as a shrine and repository of our memories of the Filipinos’ struggle against Martial Law and dictatorship.”

“I am glad to know that my former comrades in the struggle during Martial Law and my fellow workers in government share my aspiration,” he said Monday night.

In brief remarks at dinner he hosted for the Latin American experts, Binay rued that “many of us tend to forget, or even disregard” what happened in the dark decades. Some people would even “revise it for selfish reasons.” Others will “deny” it ever happened, as they would the Holocaust. But it was important for the generation that lived through it, to document what happened, Binay said, particularly for the youth, most of whom have no notion of what it was like to live under martial law.

The three experts from Latin America---Maria Eugenia Ulfe (Peru), Patricia Tappata (Argentina), and Leila Perez (Chile), joined a select group of participants in a two-day discussion and a brainstorming session to determine the specific resources and the next steps needed to set up an EDSA Memory Museum.

In remarks earlier at the workshop, Binay said his proposal was prompted by his visit to the Korean War Museum in Seoul, and the suggestion of his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, who had visited the Holocaust Museum in Israel.

“These Museums are intended to remind the younger generation of a particular period of their nation’s history, a period that most if not all of them have not lived through, and whose lessons could be lost forever to future generations if it were not preserved and publicly shared,” the Vice President said.

The EPPC and NHCP roundtable conference on Monday and Tuesday is deemed the first step towards establishing the Memory Museum. 

A similar initiative, albeit on a smaller scale, in fact already exists: the Museum of Courage and Resistance set up by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines in Quezon City.

According to the EPPC, the EDSA ’86 Memory Museum aims to capture the experience of the Martial Law years leading up to the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, “making it accessible and hopefully more meaningful to younger generations of Filipinos.”

The Vice President for his part said it was a shared responsibility of those who experienced Martial Law to keep the memory of the fight for democracy alive, and to remind the younger generation of the price we will pay if we lose our vigilance.

“It has been said that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  With our own Memory Museum, it is my hope that future generations will not only recognize the heroism and sacrifice of nameless Filipinos who suffered torture, indignity and death so we may live in freedom, but will cherish and protect this freedom,” he said.