'Essential viewing': Martial law documentary '11,103' premieres nationwide

·6 min read

Martial law victims featured in documentary film “11,103,” written and directed by Miguel Alcazaren and Jeannette Ifurung. (Screen grabs from trailer)
Martial law victims featured in documentary film “11,103,” written and directed by Miguel Alcazaren and Jeannette Ifurung. (Screen grabs from trailer)

Sept. 23 marks the 50th year since late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declared martial law across the Philippines in 1972 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081, formally signed on Sept 21, two days before said declaration.

To commemorate this dark period in the nation’s history, filmmakers Miguel Alcazaren and Jeannette Ifurung will be premiering their documentary “11,103” in various spaces nationwide, beginning at the UP Film Institute - Cine Adarna on an invite-only basis and a free outdoor screening at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City on Wednesday (Sept 21).

The official trailer of “11,103” was released on Sept 12.

The movie, which chronicles the stories of martial law victims and survivors who endured state-sponsored violence in the Marcosian years, will also be screened in select cinemas and educational institutions in Metro Manila: Cinema ‘76 (Sept 26-27), Keys School Manila (Sept 29), and Gateway-Cubao, Quezon City (Oct 1).

It will also be available at UPV Cinematheque (Sept 21, 26) and CAS Building UPV Miagao Campus (Sept 23) in Iloilo; Safe House (Sept 21-22), MM Auditorium A, University of St. La Salle (Sept. 24), and AVR, Colegio San Agustin (Sept. 29) in Bacolod; Marcelo Fernan Press Center (Sept. 23) in Cebu; and Silliman University (Sept. 28) in Dumaguete.

Philippine martial law documentary “11,103” will be screened for free at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Sept. 21, 2022. (Photo: 11103.film/Instagram)
“11,103” will be screened for free at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Sept. 21, 2022. (Photo: 11103.film/Instagram)

The film was produced by Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala and Storytellers International, Inc. as part of “AVX: Visions and Movements,” the 10th edition of Active Vista International Human Rights Festival.

Magsanoc-Alikpala and Alcazaren had previously worked with each other for the television documentary “Batas Militar,” which was released during the 25th year of martial law declaration. Magsanoc-Alikpala served as the film’s executive producer, while Alcazaren worked as its visual consultant.

The film's title is a reference to the number of martial law victims who were officially recognized by the government.

In 2013, the Philippines approved the Republic Act No. 10368, also known as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, establishing a quasi-judicial body tasked to oversee the reparation rights of martial law victims and survivors using the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family recovered by the government. It led to the compensation of 11,103 victims.

‘More than numbers’

“They are more than numbers. They are faces. They are more than names. They are real stories,” the filmmakers said of the martial law survivors featured in the film.

“There is a colossal push to make martial law appear as the best years of the country, that no human rights abuses took place. If some abuses were acknowledged, they were blamed on state enforcers acting on their own. The atrocities were state-sponsored, straight out of a playbook for any dictator who wants to stay in power. Today, it is a race for time as many survivors have gone ahead,” they added.

In a trailer for "11,103", Enrequita Toling, one of the survivors interviewed in the documentary, shared her lived experience of the Las Navas Massacre, which took the life of her husband, in Northern Samar in 1981.

Siyempre, takot na rin kami na baka maulit pa ‘yung ginawa sa amin noon. Kawawa naman ‘yung mga sumusunod sa amin. Halimbawa, ‘yung mga apo ko, ‘yung mga anak ko na manganganak pa … kawawa na mga sumusunod. Baka maulit pa ‘yung martial law (Of course, we’re scared that the massacre might happen again. [If it ever happens again,] I pity the next generation. For example, my grandchildren, my children who have yet to raise their own children, I pity them. Martial law might repeat),” she said.

The carnage left Toling a single parent at age 19 to her child who was merely three months old at the time.

Nemia Cabe, who also survived the Las Navas Massacre at age 7, decried how the armed men who murdered her family members remained unknown until today.

Noong narinig ko na nagpuputok, diyan na ako takot na takot dahil sabi lahat kami papatayin. Tapos pagkatapos nila magbabaril sa mga nanay … agad-agad sila umalis. Parang takot na takot din naman sila … tapos doon na ako bumangon tapos hinanap ko ‘yung nanay ko (When I heard the shots being fired, I was really, really scared because they said that they would have us all killed. After killing the mothers, they scuttled to leave. They also looked scared. That was the time that I looked for my mother),” Cabe recounted.

1974 Palimbang/Malisbong Massacre survivor Madaki Kanda, who also appeared in the movie, was only 14 years old when he experienced the brutal killing.

Kanda vividly recalled how he and his father were attacked by military personnel and taken to the Tacbil Mosque, the site of the mass murder.

Ngayon pagpalo niya dito, nakaupo na ako. Duguan na ito … tapos medyo gabi na, pinag-agawan nila ako. Sabi nila katayin. ‘Katayin na natin ito,’ sabi nila ganyan. Doon na ako nawalan ng malay. Sabi ko, ‘wala na ito.’ (When a soldier hit me, I was already sitting by then. I was already bleeding, then when the night came, the soldiers were aggressively grabbing me. They thought of slaughtering me. ‘Let’s butcher this,’ they said. That was when I passed out. I said, ‘it’s over’),” he said.

Artist and former priest Edicio “Ed” Dela Torre likewise shared what it was like to be a political prisoner and clergyman during the time of the dictatorship. He was sent to prison on trumped-up charges, including conspiracy and rebellion.

Doon ko nakita ang iba’t ibang reaksyon ng mga kapwa bilanggo mula bata, matanda. Lahat nagpapakita siyempre ng takot, ng kaunting pangamba, pero lahat parang mas nagdo-dominate ‘yung: ‘Pumasok ako ditong mulat. Alam ko ang pinapasukan ko, mapanganib ito pero sulit naman kasi hindi lamang tama ang ipinaglalaban (There I saw the different reactions of my fellow prisoners from children to adults. Everyone, of course, showed fear, slight unease, but everyone was overcome by a particular sentiment: ‘I came here aware of what was about to happen. I know what I’m getting into, it’s dangerous but worth it because we’re not only fighting for what is right),” Dela Torre said.

‘Essential viewing’

Film critic Philbert Dy tweeted about the documentary and described it as “essential viewing.”

Meanwhile, International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) member and Rappler resident critic Jason Tan Liwag said that the film is “moving and infuriating, despite its straightforwardness.”

“It will be hard to find any Filipino film this year that will be braver than this. A must-see,” he added.

“11,103” is also set to screen at the Paul Robeson Theatre of the People’s Forum in New York City, United States on Sept 21. The event will coincide with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to the US. The late dictator’s son just delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

After 36 years since the dictator’s ouster, another Marcos returned into power following Marcos Jr.’s victory in the 2022 presidential elections, which banked on a well-oiled disinformation and propaganda campaign.

Data from Amnesty International states that the Marcosian years saw 70,000 people detained, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 murdered.

Massive human rights violations and gross corruption during this tyrant period are documented online by martial law archives, such as Bantayog ng mga Bayani’s digital library of the “mosquito press” publications, Arkibong Bayan, Martial Law Museum, Martial Law Index, and the recently-established Project Gunita.

Further information about “11,103” can be accessed through its official website.

Lé Baltar is a Manila-based freelance writer, poet, and film critic. They are secretary of the Society of Filipino Film Reviewers (SFFR). They are currently studying journalism at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Follow them on Twitter @baltarle for latest news and updates. For more of their work, visit their portfolio. The views expressed are their own.

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