Author: Kayla Guevara
It is September 23, 1972.
My family members rustle around the house, the neighborhood dogs are making their presence known, and the rhythmic static of the radio plays its tune. I greet the breeze knocking against my window, the sun peeking through the dancing linen curtains, and the thin layer of sweat on my forehead. I say hello to the aroma of my parents’ freshly brewed barako coffee and the all-too-familiar scent of our favorite snack , turon. It is just another day in September, but it was a day like no other.
An air of heaviness lingers around my family, my home, my neighborhood, and my country. A voice booms through the radio and the television—one that is tainted with power and wrapped with authority. A voice that obtains adoration and applause, but garners synchronous revolutionary yells. A new era has just begun.
I step out of the house, greeted by men in uniform. I move, wary of the secret eyes watching.
The newspaper I read every day suddenly disappears into thin air. The channel of the news program my family would tune into every night is suddenly a bunch of colored, vertical lines instead. Looking straight into my eyes, my parents give me frequent reminders to be careful with an obvious shake in their voices.
I look to the right, and I see uncles, aunts, and even those who look to be students being taken away. I hear the powerful voices of their children wailing. I hear their relatives vocally trying to figure out what is going on. Confusion, fear, and uncertainty—that is what I hear.
I turn the other direction, and I get a glimpse of people writhing their way into hiding. I see patches of red, black, and blue. Yet, at the same time, I spot well-dressed, lavish individuals smiling from ear to ear on the television – one of them had the same booming voice of power and authority. The stark contrast seems unbelievable. How could it be real? How is this happening at the same time? But it is. It is real. It is happening.
I stare out the distance. The ground starts to shake. They are the furious steps of Filipino individuals, fighting for their freedom, for their lives, for their home. Children on the shoulders of their fathers and mothers, nuns on the frontline, grandparents strongly standing alongside a multitude, students of different schools—all loudly and proudly asking for change.
Like the afternoon wind, news about disappearances and casualties reach my ears. Numbers I cannot even visualize. Numbers that I didn’t even expect. Numbers that make my heart ache. Faces and names I do not know and have never heard of before, but feel responsible for.
Like the setting sun, the blanket that is covering my petite body seems to be getting heavier. A blanket of terror. A blanket of uncertainty. My eyes that are shut see a country that is so difficult to fight for, but so easy to love. These weighty emotions and this overwhelming feeling of responsibility jolt me awake.
I wake up from this dream.
But I was never even asleep.
It is the year 2022. It is a day like any other.