Toronto viewers brought to tears at KATIPs screening
TORONTO – When KATIPS, The Movie, was shown for the first time in Toronto on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, the eyes of people who filled seats and rafters of the Innis Town Hall in the University of Toronto were glued on the screen, and many shed tears at the movie’s end.
The musical and love story, which won seven FAMAS awards, including best actor award for its director and writer, lawyer Vince Tanada, begins in the First Quarter Storm years of the early 1970s, to the Seventies and beyond, when martial law was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., père of the recently elected president of the Philippines. Proceeds from the screening of the film, will be shared with the people of Himamaylan City and hinterlands in Negros Occidental.
After the screening, members of the audience shed even more tears when survivors of the martial law years now living in Toronto recounted their stories.
Two victims of torture during the martial law years (1972-1986), Ed Muyot and Rick Esguerra, shared with the audience their experiences as young student activists.
“I was brought into one of the military ‘safe houses’ and subjected to interrogation and forced to hold a gun to my head, Russian-roulette style. I was fortunate that there was no bullet when I pulled the trigger,” Muyot recalled.
“Otherwise, I would not have been here to re-live the tale. But when I see the names of activist friends who have died for the cause in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani as shown in the film, my eyes tear up,” he added.
For Rick Esguerra, watching the graphic torture scenes brought back memories of those days when he was tied to the seat of the toilet after beomg arrested by the military for working among the urban poor in Tondo, Manila. At the time, Esguerra was with a group of Ateneo de Manila students organizing people in the community. After the military interrogation, he said, “Every time a soldier came in, they would pee on me. I became their toilet bowl.”
The welga or strike scene in the movie was inspired by the La Tondeña Distillery workers’ strike in 1975, recalled Esguerra, at a time when strikes were banned. Working in that Tondo community, Esguerra said he saw the power of the working class.
“It was the first open show of resistance by workers under martial law. The first time when workers staged militant protests against the Marcos regime. It broke the terror and the silence imposed in the first few years of martial law.”
According to news reports, and as portrayed in the movie, the strike by more than 500 workers ended 44 hours later “when Marcos’ forces cracked down on the protesters, including various Catholic religious workers who had decided to support the protesters’ cause.”
Similar government abuses are reportedly still going on. Sherald Sanchez of AnakBayan Toronto, one of film’s organizers, claimed that over 15,000 people were displaced in a recent military siege in Himamaylan City, where seven farmers were arrested and treated brutally. As well, farm animals were slaughtered, crops burned, and areas were shelled in indiscriminate bombings.
Wilma Delo, of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Canada, said,: “Under Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.’s short presidency there are 842 political prisoners including 25 new political detainees, 156 cases of illegal arrest without detention; 15 killings, 4 cases of extrajudicial killings, among others.”