Pagpupugay in New York City:

A tribute to anti-martial law activists and commemoration of People Power of 1986


February 21, 2009




Photos courtesy of New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP)


News Release
February 26, 2009

Reference: Gary Labao, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email:

Filipinos-Young and Old-Gather in New York City to Commemorate People Power of 1986 and Anti-Martial Law Movement

New York-- Days before the 23rd anniversary of the so-called "People Power Revolution" of 1986, that saw the unseating of the 21-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Filipinos in New York City gathered to pay tribute to the legacy of the anti-Martial Law and anti-Marcos movement both in the Philippines and in New York City. PAGPUPUGAY, as the gathering was called, featured a lineup of song, poetry, video, and theatrical performances that united both older and younger Filipinos in tribute to a shared history.

The event was organized by the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), and Anakbayan New York/New Jersey. It took place at Gallery 1199, or the Bread and Roses Cultural Project Gallery, at the headquarters of Local 1199 United Healthworkers East at the Martin Luther King Labor Center in Times Square.

The event opened with a prayer-reflection offered by Bea Sabino, a 17-year old member of Anakabayan NY/NJ, who also served as co-emcee for the program with Rico Foz of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON).

University of the Philippines Professor Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature and a former political prisoner under Marcos, delivered the keynote message via video.

“The First Quarter Storm [FQS] dealt a stunning blow to the US Marcos regime in 1970. It was also a wake up call to all patriotic Filipinos.” Lumbrera said in his message.

The FQS was three straight months starting on January 1970 of daily protests of Filipino youth and students mainly against the Vietnam War and intensifying US intervention in the Asia-Pacific region. It defied the subservient stand of the Marcos regime to US government dictates.

With the student protest movement at the forefront, the FQS proved so successful in stirring up the fighting spirit of Filipinos across the country that Marcos had to declare martial law on September 21, 1972, forcing student organizations such as the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), or Patriotic Youth, to go underground. Community organizing in the Philippines was outlawed and the country entered a very dark period in its history.

“Today the struggle continues” Lumbrera said as he urged for Filipinos in the US to remain steadfast and critical of the current Arroyo regime. He closed his message with a the famous battlecry of the FQS--- “Makibaka, Huwag Matakot!”

A Vibrant Movement Continues Underground

"But fascism did not stop us from organizing a vibrant movement nonetheless," stated Ramon Mappala of the NYCHRP, in a testimony to the FQS.

Mappala, then a member of KM, spoke of how the movement for social and economic justice in the country adjusted to the conditions by going underground, and how many paid the price under a US-backed fascist dictatorship. Mappala, like many of his contemporaries who continued on with their activism at that time, was captured and jailed.

Another big highlight of the evening was the testimony of Balthazar Pinguel, the last open national spokesperson of KM before the organization went underground.

True to form, Pinguel roused the audience with his brand of fiery agitation and tribute to KM that easily moved hundreds of thousands of Filipino students during the FQS in the late 60's thru early 70's to confidently take to the streets in protest.

"Marcos was shaking in fear of the strong and militant youth and students movement!" Pinguel said as he narrated his very own experience as a student leader in various rallies, protests and demonstrations. He also provided a glimpse of what was the U.P. Diliman Commune.

Pinguel was a victim of torture while in detention for almost a decade. He traveled with his wife Chato all the way from Philadelphia to speak at the event.

Youth of Yesterday Meet Youth of Today

Contemporary youth voices urging for the continuation of the FQS's legacy were also represented in performances by members of Anakbayan NY/NJ.

Members of Anakbayan performed a “Kilos-Awit” (interpretative movement) of a well-known FQS era song called "Martsa Ng Bayan" (The Peoples’ March). “Kilos-Awit" is an artform developed and made popular by KM activists back in the 60’s that continues to be a staple among rallies and protests today. The performance spoke of the broad alliance-building among the various social sectors of Filipino society during the Marcos dictatorship.

Another classic, "Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa", a poem by Andres Bonifacio and that was made into a song by political prisoners in the 70s was sung by Taospuso of SANDIWA National Filipino Youth Alliance and Tutz Saulon of Kabalikat Domestic Workers Group. Peewee Recaido of the Kappa Pi Fraternity played the guitar accompaniment.

The active role of Filipino women against the anti-dictatorship movement such as the MAKIBAKA was also acknowledged. A witty but meaningful poem by Gabriela-USA member Melanie Dulfo of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment was delivered. Donnie Manuel, singer and songwriter, offered an acoustic performance of “Kababaihan”, one of his compositions.

Martial Law Under Arroyo

After an emotional video documenting the EDSA Uprising of 1986 that brought some audience members to tears, Anakbayan member Yves Nibungco and NYCHRP members Gary Labao and Lolan Sevilla each spoke of the need to continue the legacy of the FQS and EDSA 1 because martial law is still present under the current regime of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"The Philippine movement still needs you, and younger generation of activists need your wisdom and lessons learned from that time, because there is still martial law in the Philippines today under Arroyo," stated Labao.

Community members were given the opportunity to share their own experiences. Bebot Galvan of KABALIKAT Filipino Domestic Workers Support Group delivered a testimony of her experiences as a teenager during the martial law era. A Maranao, Potri Ranka Manis, spoke of her experiences and treatment by the Philippine military while in detention. Clemencia Wong, Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA) also spoke of her experiences during the 1986 EDSA uprising even though she was already in the US. NY cardiologist Dr. Orlando Apiado of the Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP) spoke of vibrant active anti-Marcos movement amongst Filipinos in New York City, particularly when the late Senators Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Raul Manglapuz and human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong all lived here. Another MFP member New Jersey based Atty. Emerito Salud closed the event with another poem. ###

New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines





Message from National Artists Bienvenido Lumbera via video






by National Artists Prof. Bienvenido Lumbera


Maalab na pagbati sa mga beterano ng First Quarter Storm at sa mga kasama na nakabase sa Estados Unidos!


It always warms the heart and stirs dormant militancy when former comrades and new forces band together to renew old ties and memories of struggle  waged together.


The First Quarter Storm dealt a stunning blow to the US-Marcos regime in 1970.  It was at the same time a wake-up call to all patriotic Filipinos to ra;;y around the red flag of tbe National Democratic revolution.


Your reunion today is an aauspicious occasion to recharge flagging spirits with the fervor that made Mendiola a burning symbol of the Filipino masses’ march toward national liberation.



In the years that followed FQS, fascist repression and massive corruption that came with Martial Law tested the courage, integrity and resolve of FQS veterans.  Today, the struggle continues, the utter ruthlessness and barefaced greed of the us-Macapagal Arroyo regime challenging us to remain steadfast as revolutionaries dedicated to the task of bringing national freedom and democracy to our land.


May hibang na pangako si Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sa naghaharing uri ng Filipinas.  Lilipulin daw niya ang armadong pakikibaka ng Kilusang Pambansa Demokrasya bago matapos ang kanyang termino bilang Presidente.  Pinatindi ang malagim na panunupil ng AFP na nagpairal ng masaker, pag-rereyd, at sapilitang pagdukot upang matupad ang kahibangang ipinangako ng kanilang Commander in Chief.  Subalit malinaw na hindi mangyayari ang kahibangan ni Gloria.  At bibiguin natin ang mga pasista at bulok na burokrata, at sa tulong ng mga makabayang Filipino sa U.S., kaya nating lansagin ang hibang na diktadurang Macapagal-Arroyo.  Makibaka, huwag matakot!



  Singing Bayan Ko  




When: Saturday, February 21, 2009, 1-5pm
Where: GALLERY 1199, 310 West 43rd Street (between 8th and 9th Aves), Ground Floor
Trains: A/C/E to Port Authority or 1/2/3/7/N/Q/S/W to Times Square

SPECIAL GUEST VIA VIDEO: BIENVENIDO LUMBERA, Philippine National Artist for Literature and FQS Alum

On January 26, 1970, anti-Marcos protests culminated in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Popularly referred to as the “First Quarter Storm”, the historic protests by Filipino students along with the long-standing militancy of the labor movement and the centuries-long struggle of the peasants movement against fascism, foreign domination, government corruption and feudal oppression in the Philippines embodied the historical bravery of the Filipino people with the youth and students at the forefront in fighting for social and economic justice.

In response to the strong student protests, general social unrest of the workers and the urban poor, and armed peasant uprising in the countrysides, US-puppet Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Proclamation 1081, placing the entire Philippine Republic under Martial Law. Under the president’s command, the military arrested opposition figures, including the late Senator Benigno Aquino, journalists, student leaders, labor and peasant organizers, progressive Church members, and prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs. More than 30,000 individuals were detained and tortured by the Philippine military. Businesses were seized, newspapers were shut down, and the mass media were brought under tight control. For about two decades, Marcos reigned over the Philippines with iron-fist dictatorship stripping the nation of basic human rights and democratic freedoms.

But the opposition and the struggle for freedom and democracy of the Filipino people remained strong and vibrant in-spite of the brutal suppression by Marcos. The vibrant peoples’ democratic movement in the Philippines flourished underground and among overseas Filipinos such as those in forced into exile abroad. Despite their distance from their homeland, overseas Filipinos, particularly in New York City, continued to resist and fight to dismantle the Marcos dictatorship. The struggle against Marcos culminated on February 22, 1986, in a three-day uprising at the Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) that forced Marcos out of power.

Join us in paying a fitting New York tribute to the heroes and heroines of our times and pass the Anti-Martial Law movement’s legacy to the Filipino-American youth of today so they can emulate what it means to be a genuine Filipino patriot and take a stand and fight even if he/she is forced to go abroad and to better understand the current situation in the Philippines.