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First Quarter Storm, Voltes V and Martial Law

By: ATTY. DENNIS R. GORECHO - CDN Digital | February 18,2020 - 07:12 AM

I was born in the same period when the First Quarter Storm (FQS) was associated with anti-Martial Law protests, mostly led by students and faculty of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the same academe  where I later  spent a decade of my student life.

Back in the 1970s, many members of the  UP community participated in protests against the reign of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, prompting the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

FQS was a period of civil unrest with series of demonstrations, protests, and marches against the Marcos administration mostly organized by students, which took place during the “first quarter of the year 1970” or  from January 26 to March 17, 1970.

On January 26, 1970,  Marcos delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the old legislative building in Manila as the 7th Congress opened. About 50,000 demonstrators gathered at the Burgos Drive to demand for reforms in the Constitution.

While Marcos was on his way out, along with wife Imelda, demonstrators booed him and threw sticks and placards at him and his entourage.

A cardboard coffin was swiftly carried by the students from hand to hand and hurled toward the presidential party, where it landed close to the limousine. The cardboard coffin symbolized the death of democracy.

Security forces, fearing a bomb, hurriedly picked up the coffin and threw it back toward the students who caught it and returned it with greater force, together with a papier mache crocodile that symbolized, among other things, the members of Congress. There was also a shower of empty bottles, rocks and other projectiles.

Anti-riot security forces attacked the demonstrators after Marcos left the scene, which caused injuries to several demonstrators.

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

To commemorate the FQS 50th anniversary, the gates of the Palma Hall, once called Arts and Science building,  in UP Diliman is adorned by a wonderful art piece of UP Samasa colleague Toym Leon Imao.

“Nagbabadyang Unos” (the Gathering Storm) is his recent art installation which seemed to consecrate the steps and the Palma Hall lobby that served as venue  to many protest actions and discussion groups.

“We reclaim ‘red’ as a color of passion, courage, love, and sacrifice for our country,  we dismantle the current administration’s weaponized ‘red tagging’ and remind this generation through the arts what happened 50 years ago with the First Quarter Storm that planted the seeds of ferment and dissent that led to the toppling of a dictator,” Toym said.

Hovering above it was the design centerpiece of red -painted discarded arm chairs formed like a cloud which is a reminder of the chairs used to barricade the UP Diliman streets during the FQS.

Toym also had artworks that reveal how the Japanese cartoon “Voltes V “ is inseparable from the discussion on martial law and the Marcos  regime.

The cartoon series was about an alien race of horned humans from the planet Boazania out to conquer Earth. It was up to Voltes V to defeat the Boazanians’ giant robots, known as beast fighters, sent to destroy the planet.

Voltes V  may not be provocative and radical in the traditional sense but its story does carry with it the idea of  revolution and resistance. Boazania was also under dictatorial rule from a despotic emperor, who faced an uprising from Boazanians who were discriminated against and enslaved simply because they had no horns.

In 1979, shortly before the series finale, Marcos issued a directive banning Voltes V and other similarly-themed anime series due to concerns about “excessive violence.”

The directive also led to speculations at the time that the series was also taken off the air due to its revolutionary undertones.

In 2012, Marcos’ son Bongbong defended his father’s decision to ban Voltes V, stating that parents before were worried about the excessive violence in the show, so Marcos pulled the show and other robot-based animated series from television to appease their demands.

Depicted in many of  Toym’s artworks are images of Voltes V’s villain characters from Planet Boazania that tried to conquer Earth. It is symbolic of how the military tried to control the freedom of Filipinos in the past.

“Let’s Volt In!” is the popular line associated with Voltes V, which is timely and appropriate with the return of the Marcoses in Philippine politics.

____

Kule is the monicker of Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of UP Diliman. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786).

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