Finding“STORM” in My Facebook

P.T. Martin, a publishing consultant, was both a witness and a participant of the First Quarter Storm of 1970. It was a turning point in life for him, as it was for many young members of his generation. He is pursuing this FQS project because he wants his grandchildren and the future generation of Filipinos to remember that period in our country’s history. He intends to develop the materials in this collection into a book. This piece was published in January 25, 2010 edition of the BusinessWorld, pages S1/4 to S1/5.

Writing for the first time in PDI’s Young Blood, my eldest son Mayo wrote: I’m just a freshman and know very little about this university that accepted me. But I know my father very well. He’s had a first hand-look experience with the generation at whose feet I worship. “I’d rather that you study, son,” he keeps telling me. “My time may have looked exciting, but it wasn’t pretty.” (“Where has UP activism gone?”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 16, 1995, p. 9)

I DO NOT MEAN to be an endorser for Facebook (FB) but since I opened my account early 2009, I have been on a sleuthing mode. More than connecting me to some 218 kaibigan (I’m using Facebook in Filipino), at last count, FB has led me to a past which I have long wanted to revisit. My FQS days is one of them.

To those not familiar with Philippine history, FQS is short for “First Quarter Storm” of 1970. It refers to the first three months of 1970 when Manila was rocked with a series of rallies and demonstrations.

The “storm” started on January 26 with a big student rally for a “non-partisan constitutional convention” in front of the old legislative building where then-President Marcos delivered his State-of-the-Nation address.  And it ended with a March 17 “People’s March against Poverty” and snaked around the streets of Tondo, Manila, the country’s premier district of the tough and the poor.

Jose “Pete” Lacaba, then a staff member of the Philippines Free Press,  captured the spirit of the period in his book, Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage—an exciting, blow-by-blow account of the major FQS events from a reporter’s point of view.

In his introduction entitled “The First Quarter Storm Was No Dinner Party”, he said: “What a time it was, that first quarter of the year 1970! It is impossible to recall it in tranquility. The memory of those turbulent days and nights, in those first three months of the opening year of a new decade, turns the air electric in an instant, and suddenly one is reliving a moment in time, feeling once again a throbbing in the temples, a quickening of the pulse, a fever in the blood.”

After recalling those memory pegs–truncheons, Armalites, homemade bombs called Molotov cocktails, tear gas, placards, leaflets, streamers, clenched fists, red flags–he concluded: “In the hearts of all who were an active part of it, that moment in time is now enshrined as the First Quarter Storm of 1970.”

Pete was right. For someone like me who came from the province to study in the city, and who was eventually swallowed by the storm’s length, breadth, and intensity, many things were turned upside down, and many beliefs and practices questioned inside and out. Suddenly, the storm changed the entire course of my youthful life.

But that life story will be written some other time.

So thinking that FQS would be 40 years old come January 26, 2010, I decided to embark on a personal  mission—a  pictorial history of the First Quarter Storm. To do this, I used what little FB skills I had and created this page called FIRST QUARTER STORM / UNANG SIGWA (1970) . Please go to http://www.facebook.com/perfecto.martin?ref=name#/pages/FIRST-QUARTER-STORM-UNANG-SIGWA-1970/111396371113?ref=ts to see this. Then I asked people “to share their images and memories” of these memorable months.

Surprise! After just one day, more than 100 signed up and as of July 26 morning, 2009  (Philippine time), it had 628 tagahanga (fans to you FB English users)!  Now, the number of fans has reached 1,300.

But more than the number of fans, it was the quality of commentaries and exchanges which spurred me to proceed with my search for those pictures and personal stories.  Here are some:

Yes, we must always remember how it was then, and how it is now, for a people is only as strong as its memory (Gemino H. Abad)
Anyone and everyone who participated, from any and all sides, during the First Quarter Storm, was actively part of the making of history. I know I was part of it. (Vicky Bondoc Cabrera)

Maraming kantang iniluwal ang FQS 1970 na bahagi na ng kabang yaman ng rebolusyonaryong sining ng ating bayan. Isa sa mga ito ang “Sulong mga Kasama” na naging tanglaw ng mga manggagawa at mga kabataang estudyante na nagtungo sa kanayunan pagkatapos ng FQS. (Judy Taguiwalo)

Isang kabanatang hindi ko rin inabutan subalit nananatili sa bawat gunita at sa puso. Kabanatang nakaguhit sa kasaysayang Pilipino. Muli ay nagpupugay kami mula dito. (Gary Laba)

When I posted some photos I had collected from various sources, some posted  their comments:

Looks like T.M. Kalaw corner Roxas Blvd., near the US Embassy! Embassy! Embassy! They’re smiling because Dumidilim na! Dumidilim na! Dumidilim na! Then again, maybe Nonie Villanueva or Val Pinguel has the mike. (Danilo Mariano)

Mukhang si Roy de la Cruz iyong nasa kanan at sa harap ng medyo kamukha ni Chito Sta. Romana. Per hindi si Chito iyan. Ang mga La Sallista, usually, hiwalay sa mga Atenista pag may rally, obvious ba? Kasama nila [La Sallista] ang mga taga St. Scho at PWU; ang mga Atenista naman, mga taga-Maryknoll, STC… kaming mga taga- PLM, kasama ang mga taga Letran, Feati, UP Manila, Lyceum, PCAT–mga taga-mouth of the Pasig ang tawag sa amin. (Edna Aquino)

I recognize Gani Serrano in the photo. He’s the guy somewhere in the middle of the picture with the Beatles hairdo, wearing a dark shirt, and a wide smile. (Judy Taguiwalo)

On the Notes section of my FQS page, I posted a collection of  articles—recollections, inteviews, jottings, and other commentaries and other short I-was-there essays—taken from the Internet and contributed by some.

I have just started my library research to complement whatever materials I get from FQS FB fans. I hope all the materials I get from my own investigation, from the participants themselves, and from various other sources, will allow me to revisit this historic episode of my youth, and construct an accurate and honest picture of this storm for my grandchildren to appreciate and understand.

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