EMBELLISHING MARTIAL LAW
The Martial Law years were the "healthiest" years of the Philippine komiks. These were the years when the komiks were published twice a week (from weekly in the late 60s) . Writers and illustrators during these years were all busy bees, and everyone was raking in the big bucks. There were too many jobs in the industry. Publishers mushroomed everywhere. Writers created more logical stories, and even if we lost the likes of Redondo, Alcala and Niño to the US and Coching (by retiring), we still had the likes of Mars Ravelo, Elena Patron, Pablo S. Gomez, Jim Fernandez, Nestor Malgapo and other excellent writers and illustrators.
But, the most ridiculous claim I've ever read was that the Philippine movies were totally suppressed that there were only bad ones that were made during this decade.
The 1970s were the years when the Filipino movies shone and was noticed by the whole world. It was also the time when materials adapted from the komiks became very good movies and were given accolades in international film festivals.
True, there were incidents when a film for instance would be told by the censors to change the title, like RICO BELLO OMAGAP’s IMELDA, ANG ULIRAN. The censors simply made it ANG ULIRAN, and neither Cirio Santiago nor Mr. Omagap was bothered by it.
There was also the case of MANILA BY NIGHT, which the censors changed to CITY BY NIGHT. Sure, Bernal wasn’t too happy. One can call it repression if you will, but don’t tell me just because a title was changed a little, it already caused the film to look bad?
A bunch of bull!
In those years, as a writer, for instance, if you had pushed the envelope further, you could have gotten away with a lot of realism in your work. This is exactly what I did when I was writing TV dramas in those days. I will put some snippets of one teleplay, an episode of ULILA, just to give you a sampler of what sort of materials in those days that were approved by the censors and what they didn’t.
In this sampler, despite the extremely delicate subject, the TV Censors, then headed by CHITANG GUERRERO NAKPIL, didn’t changed a bit of the dialogs. However, she summoned me to go to the studio to discuss one thing: make sure that the ending of the story should say that the kids who live in their push cart were helped by the government and were placed in a foster home to give them a good life. I wasn’t happy when they did this, but even if I lost some argument, I’ve also won some. So here are three SEQUENCES to illustrate what it was like in the 70s, the Martial Law years.
WRITER: Jose Mari Lee
PRODUCER: Rebecca Cabrera
DIRECTOR: Mario O’Hara
ROSA ROSAL as Aurora
The loving mother.
MICHAEL SANDICO as Joselito
Aurora’s son, 15 years old, very good-looking and kind.
LITO ANZURES as Fernando
Aurora’s disillusioned husband.
JOEY GALVEZ as Bunny
The homosexual pimp, gay bar operator, opportunist.
JOSE DE VILLA
The rich pedophile, a customer in Bunny’s bar.
ESTRELLA KUENTZLER as the good neighbor.
JANICE DE BELEN as Ana
Aurora’s daughter, 7 years old.
EXTRAS to play as hospital patients and Gay Bar customers
In SEQUENCE 1 – the characters of Aurora, Fernando and Joselito are established. Joselito picks-up recyclable garbage in Smokey Mountain. Fernando is now disillusioned and lost interest to find a job. It is difficult for someone like him who barely finished elementary school. Due to his depression, he drinks as soon as he finds some money. Basically, Joselito is the bread winner as Aurora is ill. She had Hepatitis B when she was young, and now cirrhosis.
It was also established here that Ana is the youngest daughter. Joselito goes to school at night, trying to finish high school.
SEQ. 2: INT. ONE-ROOM HOUSE, NIGHT OF THAT DAY
Bunny, with shoulder bag, sits at the table, angry, speaking very rapidly. Fernando, sober, and like a meek lamb, sits beside Bunny.
Kung hindi ko pa ipagtanong itong lungga mo
hindi ko pa makikita ang anino mo. Ang galing-
galing mong mangutang, ang kunat mong
magbayad. Aba’y namuti ang mga mata ko sa
kahihintay sa pagsipot mo, ah.
Kaya nga nakikiusap naman ako sa iyo, e. Wala
lang talaga akong maibigay sa iyo ngayon, Bunny.
Nabawas ako sa trabaho at nagkasakit pa’ng asawa
ko. Nasa ospital nga siya ngayon, e.
Kesehoda kung may sakit ang asawa mo. Ang
obligasyon ay obligasyon.
Huwag ka sabing mag-alala at magbabayad naman
ako. Ngayon lang naman ako pumaltos, a?
Ngayon ka nga lang pumaltos, pero tatlong buwan
Ka nang hindi nagbabayad ng tubo.
Joselito comes in and stands at the door. There is worry on his face. There are several prescriptions in his hand.
Itay… ay, may bisita ho pala tayo.
Bunny suddenly keeps quiet upon seeing Joselito and the anger in his face disappears. He gazes at Joselito admiringly from head to foot.
O, nariyan ka na pala. Kumusta ang inay mo?
Joselito walks heavily towards the table.
Hindi na ho masakit ang tiyan niya ngayon. Pero
mahinang-mahina ho siya. Ang dami nga hong
Nakita mo na, Bunny? Talagang gipit kami ngayon.
(raising an eyebrow)
Bakit… puwede naman nating pag-usapan ito, a?
Napaka-pogi naman nitong anak mo.
Hmm, parang nahuhulaan ko na ang iniisip mo.
Bakit hindi mo agad sinabi sa akin na may pogi ka
palang anak. Ni sa bangungot ay hindi ko inakala ito.
Nagkamaling umibig sa akin ang asawa kong mestisa, e.
Pero ang gusto kong malaman ay kung talagang
Interesado ka dito sa anak ko.
Hindi lang interesado kundi interesadong-interesado.
Alam mo, may bagong tayong bar na ako ang namamahala.
Ang 906 bar sa Ermita. Pakikinabangan ko ang batang ito.
At siyempre, makikinabang din siya.
Ano naman ang gagawin niya roon sa bar. Dishwasher?
Ano? Sa kapogihan niyan, paghuhugasin ko lang ng plato?
Gagawin ko siyang star hospitality boy.
Ospital? Bakit ospital naman ngayon. Akala ko sa bar ikamo?
Que imbecile! Hindi ospital. Hospitality. Malaki ang kikitain
niya sa trabahong ito. May suweldo na, may tip pa. At huwag
mong isnabin ang bar ko, ha? Mga class na tao ang nagpupuntahan
doon. Mga sosyal. Mahina ang dalawang daang piso na kikitain
niya roon gabi-gabi.
(approaching Joselito and touching
the boy’s behind)
Kaya lang, baka naman dyutay ka?
Dyutay? Bisaya ka rin bang tulad ko?
Lokah! Usong salita iyon sa mga bakling. Hindi kaya…maliit…
ang kargada… nitong anak mo?
Joselito cringes, embarrased.
Ah… iyon ba iyon? Pasensiya ka na’t wala akong kaalam-alam
sa mga usong salita ngayon. Para malaman mo eh, di imbestigahan
mo. Sige, Joselito. Maghubad ka na’t ipakita mo ang ari mo.
Tay, naman… huwag naman ho dito.
Talaga ho bang importante iyon?
Siyempre. At kung talagang gusto mong kumita at makatulong
sa inay mong may sakit, gagawin mo.
Doon na lang ho sa may batalan. Baka may makakita sa atin
Mabait na bata itong anak mo, Fernando. Masunurin.
Bunny brings out his wallet and hands two hundred pesos to Fernando.
(delighted, eyes wide open)
Ito ba ang unang suweldo niya?
Of course not. Pakunsuwelo ko pa lang sa iyo iyan.
Salamat naman at may pambili na tayo ng mga gamot ni inay.
(taking the prescriptions)
Ako na’ng bahalang bumili ng mga iyan. Sige na, punta na kayo sa batalan.
At pagkatapos ay isasama ko siya at bibilhan ko ng mga bagong
damit, sapatos, at kung anu-ano pang mga kakailanganin niya.
Makaya ko ho kaya ang trabahong sinasabi ninyo?
Kayang-kaya mo, darling. Madali, pero malaki ang kita.
Itay, bilhin na agad ninyo ang mga gamot ni inay.
Oo, ako na’ng bahala. Sige na.
Joselito and Bunny EXIT CAMERA.
SEQ. 3: INT. GAY BAR - SAME NIGHT
KANSAS’ “DUST IN THE WIND” COMES IN as CAMERA PANS SLOWLY on the dimly-lit bar, PASSING BRIEFLY the BAR CUSTOMERS, then RESTS on Joselito. He is well-dressed, seated at the bar counter. His inhibitions are now gone, he seems to look more mature and more bubbly, though the childlike winsomeness that contrasts charmingly with his good looks is still visible. Opposite the counter sits Bunny, wearing a blouse and looking more like a woman.
Sa trabahong ito, kung magiging mabait ka lang sa
customers, tiyak na malaki ang kikitain mo. Kaya
huwag na huwag mong kalilimutan ang mga itinuro
ko sa iyo kanina. Pupunta dito ngayon si
Don Paquito de Ylaya at susunduin ka. Pagbutihin
mo ang pakikitungo sa kanya at madatong ang gurang
na iyon. Milyonaryo.
Huwag ho kayong mag-alala. Kabisado ko na ho lahat.
Huwag mo nga akong hino-ho. Bata pa ako. Bunny
ang ang itawag mo sa akin. At maski ang mga
costumers, huwag mong hoho-in. Ayaw nilang matatawag
na gurang sila kahi’t gayot na gayot na ang hilatsa ng mga
(places a stick of cigarette in
O, mag-aral kang manigarilyo.
(lighting the cigarette)
Kailangang matutuhan mo rin iyan para lalo kang
magmukhang macho. At ang pagtayu-tayo mo.
Kailangang laging maganda ang pose, ha?
Don Paquito de Ylaya enters the bar and walks directly towards the counter.
Hola, Don Paquito. Ven aqui, señor, ven aqui.
Don Paquito sits beside Joselito. He looks at Joselito and quite impressed of what he sees.
Excelente, Bunny. Napaka-guwapito nga. Pero teka…
menor ito. Baka masabit ako, ha?
Ganitong mga edad naman talaga ang type mo, di ba?
Don’t worry. Ang magulang pa mismo ang nagbigay ng go signal.
Ay, muy bien. Talagang maaasahan ka.
(opening his wallet and hands several
paper bills to Bunny)
Sige … lalabas na kami.
(delighted, placing the money
in his bossom)
Muchas Gracias, Don Paquito. Mabait na bata iyang
si Joselito. Masunurin iyan. Ano man ang ipagawa mo
sa kanya, gagawin niya. At tulad nga ng sinabi ko sa iyo
noon pa man… the best lang ang ibinibigay ko sa iyo…
and nothing but.
Don Paquito and Joselito walk towards the main door and go out. Bunny takes the money out from his bossom
and greedily counts them. He is almost giggling after counting and places them back inside his blouse.
SEQ.4: INT. ONE ROOM HOUSE – NEXT MORNING
Fernando and Ana are seated at the table. They have just finished their breakfast.
Ang sarap naman ng agahan natin, itay. Malaki ho ba
kagabi ang napagbilhan ni kuya sa mga basura?
Hindi na galling sa basura itong kinain natin ngayon.
May bagong hanap-buhay na ang kuya mo at malaki ang suweldo niya.
Ay, talaga? E di palagi nang masarap ang kakainin natin ngayon?
Joselito comes in. He looks tired and sleepy.
Wow. Ang ganda ng suot ng kuya, o.
Nariyan ka na pala. Inumaga ka, a?
Isinama ho ako ni Don Paquito sa bahay niya, e.
Ang laki siguro ng bahay ni Don Paquito, ano? Bigatin ka na
ngayon, ha? Don na ang kasama mo. Aba’y halos hindi kita
nakilala diyan sa suot mo, a? Para kang anak-mayaman.
Oo nga kuya, lalo kang nagmukhang pogi.
Hoy, Ana. Tama na yang kadadaldal mo. Mahuhuli ka sa
eskuwela. Mabuti pa’y pumasok ka na.
Ana gets up and picks up her books from the table.
Ingat ka, Ana. Tingin ka bago tumawid.
Joselito moves languidly towards Fernando and kisses his hand.
Malaki ba naman ang kinita mo?
Joselito pulls some paper bills from his pocket and hands them to Fernando.
(giving back the money to him)
Ikaw na ang magtago nito’t meron pa naman akong
Kaunti dito. Totoo nga pala ang sabi ni Bunny na malaki
nga ang kikitain mo roon.
(placing back the money in his pocket)
Apat na raan nga ho ito, e. Kaya lang namili na ako ng mga
prutas at pagkain ni inay. Galing na ho ako sa ospital.
Matutulog ho muna ako at mamaya’y babalik ako sa ospital.
At saka sabi nga ho pala ni Bunny huwag n’yo nang
bayaran ang utang ninyo sa kanya.
E di lalong magaling. Siguro’y milyonaryo yung
Don Paquitong iyan, ano?
Joselito goes to the bamboo bed, takes off his shirt and sits down.
Itay… hindi ko ho yata kaya ang ganitong trabaho.
Ang sakit ho ng katawan ko, para ho akong binugbog.
Ganyan lang iyan sa umpisa. Pag nasanay ka na, wala ka
nang mararamdamang ganyan. Kumain ka na ba?
Alagaan mong mabuti iyang katawan mo. Kailangang
laging magkorteng pangromansa iyan para maraming
maloko sa iyo.
Joselito lies down on the bed. He stares sadly at the ceiling. There’s a beat, then…
Hindi ko ho yata makakayanan ito, Itay. Ayoko ko ho
ng ganitong trabaho. Nandidiri ho ako. At saka, hindi
ba’t kasalanan ito?
At sino ang may sabing masama? Sino’ng may sabing
kasalanan? Ang kasalanan ay ang magnakaw dahil
nakakaperhuwisyo sa kapuwa. Tingnan mo ang sarili
mo ngayon. Ang linis mo. Ang bango mo. Hindi amoy
basura. Mas dapat kang mandiri sa kakakalkal ng
basura sa tambakan. Ang dumi-dumi na, ang bahu-baho pa,
at kakarampot lang ang kita.
Joselito gets up and looks out the window. He swallows hard, before…
Hindi bale na hong marumi at mabaho sa tambakan, itay.
Hindi bale na rin ho kung maliit ang kita. Basta’t hindi
masama ang trabaho.
Huwag kang tanga. Kasalanan ang magtrabaho ng ganyan
kung mayaman ka. Pero kung mahirap ka, kabanalan ang
magtrabaho ng ganyan. Kabanalan dahil gusto mong tulungan
ang iyong inang may sakit.
Joselito sighs, suddenly remembering his mother.
Kung hindi mo masikmura ang trabaho mo ngayon, pilitin mo.
Ano’ng masama kung sipsipin man nila ang ari mo? Matapos
kang maligo ay malinis na naman ang katawan mo. Pilitin mong
magtrabaho dahil diyan tayo giginhawa. Ikaw lang ang maaaring
magligtas sa iyong ina. Matitiis mo bang hayaan siyang basta na
lang mamatay dahil wala tayong pambili ng kanyang gamot?
Joselito says nothing. In agony, he rests his head against the window.
Kailangan ngayon sa mundo ay maging praktikal. Kung may
maipupuhunan ka para maging salapi… ipuhunan mo. Guwapo ka.
Puwes, iyan ang ipuhunan mo para kumita ng kuwarta. Kung puro
karangalan ang iisipin mo, mamamatay kang nakadilat ang iyong
mga mata. Tandaan mo iyan.
CAMERA MOVES SLOWLY AND RESTS ON Joselito, revealing the extreme sadness in his eyes. The WHISTLE of an approaching train is heard, then FADING OUT as the scene FADES OUT.
This is just an example of what a writer can get away with during Martial Law years. As long as you din’t side with the “left,” and/or directly attack Marcos and his policies, you could write with freedom. Though it would have been good if I wasn’t told to include the “goodness” of the government, but that I only added to Rosa Rosal’s EPILOG. This episode was based on a true story. I was walking along Avenida with friends one night and I saw Joselito and his sister near Recto Avenue. They were in a push cart. I asked them where they live and where their parents were. He told me his life story, and that the cart was their home and at the same time what they used to pick up recyclable garbage. I gave them some money and told them to go back there the next night. I told Rosa Rosal about them and she immediately found a home for them. Years later, Joselito became an accountant and his sister became a teacher. And it was all because of Rosa Rosal. Yet, in the epilog, I had to say the government did help the children, something that gave me a heavy heart, but the episode was allowed intact except for the closing spiel that Rosa Rosal had to deliver.
After all, it wasn’t really that bad for komiks, TV and movie writers during Martial Law years. There wee some annoyance, of course. Though some people just embellished their tales about Martial Law, saying that it was detrimental to their writings. Though some komiks publishers were too leery to publish new themes because they thought that their publication will be shut down. Two of my komiks nobelas were pulled out just after the 4th chapter, because the Censors thought that the public was not ready yet to be rattled by incendiary themes such as doctors playing God and/or medical malpractice, themes I delved into in my nobela called AKO’Y TINIK AT ROSAS and Tourism black eye in TOUR GUIDES, an exposé on tour guide prostitution in the country. •