Marichu Antonio, a martial law victim and survivor. She was one of the “Pangasinan Seven” who was abducted by the military in 1984. She made history in Canada as the first Filipino and woman of colour to be named Calgary’s Citizen of the Year in 2021
Marichu Antonio and spouse Cesar Cala receive the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for Community Service in 2012. Senator Elaine McCoy (2nd from right) nominated the awardees.
Martial law survivor urges youth to be vigilant
by Jomay Amora-Dueck
A martial law survivor shared her painful and harrowing experience while reminding Filipinos the importance of being vigilant against historical distortion and abuse of power.
Marichu Antonio, retired Executive Director of ActionDignity based in Calgary, Alberta, urged her fellow Filipinos, especially the youth, to fight historical distortion and be vigilant against a repeat of history through the abuse of presidential mandate.
Antonio, who has lived in Calgary for 27 years and was named the city’s 2020 ‘Citizen of the Year’, recalled being abducted and tortured during the martial rule of the late dictator, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
On October 19, 1984, Antonio was forcibly taken and went missing for 12 days.
Known as the “Pangasinan Seven”, Antonio and six others later resurfaced and were immediately imprisoned for a year without due process. She was separated from her young daughter and son without any formal charges laid against her.
“I was arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to a house where there were so many men. I was stripped down naked. I was abused and hit in the face. I was gagged with used socks as I was screaming loud for help,” Antonio said.
“I was involved in many protests. I had friends who protested against human rights violations and some of them had disappeared and until now their bodies could not be found.”
Antonio was part of a group that won the class-action lawsuit against Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. in 1992 at a Federal Court in Hawaii.
Antonio was one among the over 75,000 victims of Martial Law whose experiences were affirmed through Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act of 2013, a law signed by former President Benigno Aquino III, that recognizes the “heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of … other gross human rights violations” under the Marcos regime.
“I still bear to this day the emotional and psychological scars of tyranny and injustice. I will continue this fight against tyranny and historical distortion in our fight for justice.”
She said the younger generation plays a vital role in the next several years.
“Our youth should open their eyes on the reality that the martial law era was not a golden age, but a dark period of our history where millions of people continue to suffer till this day. I hope they remain steadfast and united in having a stronger voice in demanding for accountability of the Marcoses for historical denialism and distortion, plunder, human rights violations and other anti-people acts.”
Antonio will be speaking at the martial law memorial event on September 23 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Balik-Tanaw: Martial Law at 50, which will feature an exhibit, a film showing and a cultural night, is organized by the Philippine-Manitoba Historical Society. For more information, visit their website at www.bantaykasaysayan.com.