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Katips: Historical journey of student activism

Dennis Gorecho - Kuwentong Peyups

The Katipunan area, often referred to as “Katips,” is recognized as Quezon City’s university belt and has always been associated with student activism.

Several academic institutions are located around it such as the University of the Philippines Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University, and Miriam College.

Katipunan Avenue was named after the revolutionary society founded by Andres Bonifacio, who eventually launched an uprising against the Spanish rule in the Philippines.

Green colored “Katips” jeepneys used to ply the route from Aurora Boulevard, entering the UP Campus through Katipunan Avenue, and picking up passengers in front of Vinzon’s Hall.

The face-off between Ateneo and UP at the UAAP is also dubbed “Battle of Katipunan.”

Katips student activism has always been a potent force in social change.

“Katips: The Movie” is a musical drama film produced by Philstagers Films about the struggles of common people who became victims of Martial Law in the 1970s.

The film is based on the musical play “Katips: Mga Bagong Katipunero,” originally performed onstage in 2016, which won Best Musical Performance at the Aliw Awards that year.

The film recently bagged seven major awards at the 70th FAMAS Awards Night, including best picture, Vince Tañada as best actor and best director, Johnrey Rivas as best supporting actor, best original song (Sa Gitna ng Gulo), best musical score, and best cinematography. It earlier had 17 nominations in various categories.

Tañada said it is “a tale of the young, in their fight for their ideals, [and] how big can one get against a force too much bigger than themselves.”

He added that “its sole objective is to convey what really happened in Philippine history. Nobody can ever invalidate the experience of people.”

Back in the 1970s, many members of the Katips community participated in protests against the reign of dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Known as First Quarter Storm (FQS), there were demonstrations, protests and marches against the Marcos administration, mostly organized by students, which took place from January 26 to March 17, 1970.

Violent dispersals of ensuing FQS protests were among the watershed events where large numbers of Filipino students of the 1970s were radicalized against the Marcos administration.

I was barely two months old when the nine-day uprising called “Diliman Commune” from February 1 to 9, 1971 marked UP’s role as the “bastion of activism.”

It was the first-ever display of mass resistance from the UP Diliman community, together with transport workers, in protest of a three-centavo increase in oil prices.

Student politics trained Katips denizens for service to the people.

The campus molded us to fight for the causes we believe in, trained us for the skills we need to communicate ideas and rally others to effect changes in society.

The university teaches what textbooks cannot capture, the state education curriculum avoids, or the military censors erase or prohibit. In the first place, these are institutions with critical eyes on social and historical issues.

Katips will be in cinemas at the same time as Maid in Malacañang (MIM), one of whose stars compared history to “chismis.”

Amid reports that free tickets are being distributed to schools by some business groups, social activist Tess Ang See lamented that the promotion of the MIM in the nation’s schools “is an insult to our schools and students. It displays total disregard for integrity, and disrespect for the truth and historical facts.”

She stressed that “promoting a film that has been judged as a distortion of history by distributing free passes to students is truly appalling. It is tantamount to asking these educational institutions to promote outright lies, falsehoods, and historical distortion.”

Life under the dictatorship was deadly for some of those who stood against Marcos.

In the case of Mijares vs Ranada (GR 139325 April 12, 2005), the Supreme Court said: “Our martial law experience bore strange unwanted fruits… the colossal damage wrought under the oppressive conditions of the period. The cries of justice for the tortured, the murdered, and the Desaparecidos arouse outrage and sympathy in the hearts of the fair-minded, yet the dispensation of the appropriate relief due them cannot be extended through the same caprice or whim that characterized the ill-wind of martial rule.”

In Dizon vs Eduardo (GR L-59118 March 3, 1988), the Court noted that “the martial law imposed in September 1972 by Marcos destroyed in one fell swoop the Philippines’s 75 years of stable democratic traditions and established reputation as the showcase of democracy in Asia.”

Peyups is the moniker of the University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail info@sapalovelez.com, or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.

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