For Democracy and Human Rights: Rekindling the Lessons of Martial Law and the People Power Revolution

In a 2011 survey among Filipinos, 50% believe, majority are young people,that the late dictator Marcos deserves to be honored as a Filipino hero and be given a hero’s burial. This survey indicates the need to increase awareness among young people of the atrocities of martial law, while strengthening appreciation for the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy.

Towards this, CYAN, with support from FES, has developed an exhibition targeting young people to increase awareness on human rights and democracy given the contest of martial law. The exhibition has been successfully conducted in 10 universities all over the country in the past 2 years. Still, many young people have to be reached. On the government side, a resolution in Congress has been adopted to strengthen the teaching of martial law atrocities in the public education system. Consequently a technical working group of relevant government agencies has been formed for this purpose. A recently law has also been passed paving the way for state recognition of human rights violations during martial law and the compensation of victims.

CYAN now regularly receives invitation to conduct the exhibit in universities. Because of high demands from universities for the For Democracy and Human Rights Exhibit of CYAN the past years, CYAN developed and pilot tested a learning module on democracy and human rights; and conducted a National Training of Trainers (Youth Educators) to capacitate youth leaders from the grassroots to engage their fellow young people on discussions on martial law and people power within the frame of democracy and human rights. Consequently 5 exhibitions were held in different areas of the country by the trained youth educators in commemoration of the declaration of martial law and the celebration of the people power revolution.

Through the interactive exhibit, CYAN hopes to create a platform to discuss and deepen the youth’s understanding of the values of human rights and democracy, towards informing them on the lessons of the past and surfacing possible ways forward in deepening democracy in the country. By strengthening the values of democracy and human rights among young people, it aims to contribute in ensuring that martial law shall never again happen.

Now on its 5th year, the Exhibition has been inviting young people from all over the country, in over 30 universities and community centers to a time warp, 45 years ago, in 1972 when Martial law was declared, or even earlier in 1965 when Ferdinand Marcos was first elected President, up to the time of the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986. The first event mark the darkest post war event in our history, while the second is a testament to the greatness of the Filipino people united.

Activity Partners: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung; National Youth Commission; Commission on Human Rights, Ateneo de Manila University, University of La Salle- Bacolod; Naga City Government, Jesse Robredo Center for Good Governance, University of the Philippines-Cebu Student Council.

Project Outputs: Learning module of Democracy and Human Rights; 30 youth educators from grassroots trained; 5 public exhibitions/fora on For Democracy and Human Rights, across the country.

See the project’s facebook page here:

See news coverage of the project here: