The Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation joins the rest of the country in remembering the tumultuous events of the first quarter of 1970, now remembered as the First Quarter Storm, or FQS, of 1970.
It was a time of great political unrest in the Philippines. Tens of thousands of activists joined protest actions that often ended with members of the armed and police forces holding violent dispersal operations and shooting at unarmed demonstrators who then fought to hold their ranks using home-made bombs and pillboxes. Protesters were raising their voices against growing Philippine involvement in the American war in Vietnam, increasing poverty, and spreading militarization in the Philippines.
The First Quarter Storm attracted many young people, and many Filipino activists, intellectuals as well as from the laboring peoples, trace a life-long commitment to nationalist and democratic issues from this period. Several demonstrators were killed in these shootings. One was factory worker and union leader Liza Balando as among the heroes and martyrs at the time of the Marcos dictatorship.
Other Bantayog heroes from the First Quarter Storm are Carlos Del Rosario, teacher from the Philippine College of Commerce (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines), and the late Voltaire Garcia III, student activist leader from the University of the Philippines.
Del Rosario, a leader of the activist group Kabataang Makabayan (KM), disappeared in 1971 and has never been seen again. He is believed to have been abducted by Marcos authorities while putting up posters inside the school campus in Lepanto, Manila. On the other hand, Garcia, who became a lawyer and a member of the progressive bloc at the 1971 Constitutional Convention, died of leukemia in 1973, while under house detention by the Marcos government.
This acrylic on canvas, executed in 2006 as a collective work by a group of activist artists, depicts scenes and sentiments from that historical period. The artists come from various progressive organizations and include Boy Dominguez, Art Castillo, Orly Castillo, Babes Alejo, Erwin Pascual, Pedro Alejo, Flon Faurillo and Betsy Alejo.
The painting was commissioned in 2006 by the First Quarter Storm Movement, which represents activists from that period. The 10-foot high canvas was donated the following year to the Foundation, which has had it installed on its lobby wall as permanent display.
(Photo from www.arkibongbayan.org)