I was a teen during the Martial Law era

I was 15-years-old when Proclamation 1081 was declared by then-President Ferdinand Marcos.


Noemi Lardizabal-Dado My folks seemed overjoyed with the news. The administration did a great job brainwashing so that the old folks of the country were in turmoil and thus thought that Martial Law needed to be declared.

I didn’t know it then, of course. I felt disappointment wash over me when I was told that my essay on “Freedom of Speech” would not be published in my high school magazine. It was supposed to be my first published piece. Even if I wrote another piece, all sorts of magazines were banned then.

I felt a bit alarmed that any house could be raided for “subversive materials.” Any reading material might be “subversive” to the eyes of the military.

Dad was wise; he started buying books and magazines that were pro-Marcos. But all of these inconveniences were insignificant to me.

As a teen, the first thing that came to my mind was “Now what can me and my friends do for fun?”

The author (first from left) and her friends during the Martial Law years. This was what we were faced with:

1. A curfew of 12 midnight was imposed. 2. A gathering of five people or more needed a permit from Camp Lapu-lapu.

How could we ever party now? During those days, mixed parties, watching movies, and hanging out in our homes was our idea of fun. No shopping malls existed then to frolick in, except for the neighborhood grocery store. Of course, there was the beach but that's mostly for family events.

My fears didn’t last long. Me and my classmates learned to adapt to this new situation. How did we do it?

1. The class president or the secretary procured the necessary party permit from the Camp.
2. Parties started at exactly 7:00 p.m. 3. Dancing commenced soon after. 4. At 11:30 p.m. we left the party just so we could beat the curfew.

Then, we became more innovative. Wessie Quisumbing, whose family owned Norkis Trading, had a basement in their office which could becom pitch dark if the curtains were drawn. “Betcha by golly wow!” we shrieked at Wessie’s offer.

This prompted our parties to start at 4:00 p.m. and we grooved the night away to the 70′s disco-soul music of The Intruders, Three Degrees, Gloria Gaynor, The Trammps and Barry White.

“Theme from ‘Shaft’” by Isaac Hayes with its high-hat, disco stomp beat was a favorite for years. As long as we were watchful of the curfew and got our party permit, Martial Law proved no killjoy

If there was one valuable lesson that Martial Law taught me as a teen-ager, it was the ability to make productive use of my time; to be organized and be punctual. Time and party planning were of the essence.

Me and my friends had to maximize our precious time in order to enjoy the limited party hours. We learned to tame the time monster.

You might be surprised at how much you can get done. The real reward for us was that we were less stressed and more happy even under adverse situations. – KDM, GMA News

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a 55-year-old mother of three kids and the editor of Blog Watch. This entry originally appeared in her blog on September 20. We are re-posting it here with her permission.



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