Film Screening Cologne: 11,103 – A film about Martial Law survivors in the Philippines

12. May 2023 | News

On May 2, 2023, the documentary 11,103, produced by Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala and directed by Jeannette Ifurung and Mike Alcazaren, was screened by the Aktionsbündnis Menschenrechte-Philippinen and Dakila-Active Vista at the Asienhaus in Cologne.

The film chronicles the lives of Martial Law survivors in the Philippines and tells their stories in the face of the state-sponsored violence they suffered: Stories of Muslim communities, lawyers, doctors, activists, victims of human rights abuses and their families and friends. It seeks to empower the discourse and education around this important topic and to reflect on the social conditions of those dark times and how they influence the present. Having been screened all around the Philippines and to Filipino communities around the world, the movie was finally brought to Cologne by Leni Velasco, General Secretary of Dakila – Active Vista.

After the screening, the audience was invited to take part in a discussion on the achievements and obstacles of memorialization, and how to bridge the Filipino and German contexts. Siegfried Deduro, a Martial Law survivor himself, a student activist during that time and still a victim of political persecution, talked about the absence of reforms in regard to the current school curriculum and the prosecution of those responsible. Siegfried called for short-term and long-term solutions, including the memorialization of this time period, the democratization of the Philippines and the abolishment of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2020, which he sees as an undeclared Martial Law that aims to repress criticism against the government and furthers the historically grown impunity.

The film also resonated with Delia Sanque, a 2nd generation Filipina-German, who had only heard of this time period through experiences of relatives. She described it as a shock to realize just how critical the situation was: a common reaction, according to Leni Velasco, even from students at universities in the Philippines where this movie was screened. The film therefore tries to overcome dominant narratives in the Philippines that trivialize Martial Law and its impact on Philippine society.

Tessa Brielmayer, from the forumZFD, gave her insight on how memorialization of national socialism is carried out in Germany. Driven by persistent pressure from civil social groups, memorial work has reached a high level of institutionalization, through museums, national days and integration into the school curriculum. However, the established narrative yet often fails to recognize the diversity of groups that fell victim to the national socialist, for instance the Sinti:zze and Rom:nja. Especially with eyewitnesses dying, it remains a challenge for the highly institutionalized memorialization not to become hollow.

The audience went on to discuss what elements of memorialization enables recognition of the past and prevents revisionism and repetition. An active civil society and a lively discourse were seen as vital as a government that recognizes and implements memorialization.

In view of increasing historical revisionism and disinformation, Velasco shares that Dakila – Active Vista pursues an approach of radical empathy builds bridges through empathy, not combat. At a time when a lot of memorial work in the Philippines is still in a limbo, it is important to build up the social pressure on the state and involve more people in social issues. In a “propaganda war” where films are pitted against each other, and in a battle for the truth, 11,103 draws on witnesses’ accounts of the Martial Law years to educate the public.

The event was co-organized by PhilNetz and the forumZFD.

Written by Talia Willig, intern of the AMP.

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