The Martial Law Era remains a dark shadow cast, not just on our history, but on the lives of people who lived through its horrors; and there is a cruel irony in the fact that survivors have to hold on to these tortured memories because the rest of us would just allow their pain to fade into obscurity. This is why we gather their stories (pagbibigkis)—so we can remember them; so we can protect them; so we can tell them.

Pagbibigkis features the works of the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) junior students in the fields of fine arts, creative writing, and communication in collaboration with the Bantayog ng mga Bayani and Survivors Hub as part of their National Service Training Program (NSTP) through the Bigkis Program.

Bigkis (or ‘to bundle together’) is the service-learning program of the university facilitated by the Office for Social Concern and Involvement and the last of a three-stage ladderized social formation program integrated into the core curriculum with the explicit mandate to form future “professionals for and with others”.

At this last stage, students are challenged to break down and respond to marginalization and poverty through direct partnerships with vulnerable communities that utilize the core competencies of their discipline of study—bringing together all that they have learned (pagbibigkis)—in this case, in art and communication.

In September 2023, selected ADMU students met with Martial Law survivors. Through their interactions, the students realized how much power these stories hold. Together, they explored how art can capture these stories and communicate them to bring more people together (pagbibigkis).

Ateneo’s history with the movements born during martial law is now bound with the students of this time; in the same way that these students are bound to the histories of the survivors they now call friends (pagbibigkis).

Pagbibigkis was their call to action and through their art, these students responded.

Credits: Ateneo Bigkis NSTP Students 

 Christine Anne Alvarez | Elvin Jay Macanlalay | Jose Emmanuel Patrimonio |  Jonas Erwin Tugab | Kirstie Cahleen L. Luntok

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