One need not be either an overt or closet rebel to watch 11,103, the award-winning documentary on the survivors of Martial Law. It is for everyone, even the “deadma” (sorry, no fitting English translation) population. It’s neither shrill nor rabid, not dogmatic nor preachy—in short, it’s no turn-off. Rather, it’s a storytelling that’s lucid, smooth, sober. Nothing embellished, nothing belabored, nothing in your face. The power of truth comes from the human voice that speaks to you and to the values you hold dear, from the human face that mirrors, in the words of the docu writer, the “memory of truth.”
Actually, it’s good for one’s native intelligence.
We watched it last February 25 at SinePop in Cubao, Quezon City. The venue’s capacity wasn’t huge but it was obviously a captive audience whose active minds didn’t mind revisiting the historic February day in Edsa 37 years ago.
The documentary was produced by Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala and written and directed by Jeannette Ifurung and Mike Alcazaren. 11,103 refers to the number of documented cases or victims of Martial Law, but the docu picks out only a few stories to lend a face to. There’s a family in the North whose members suffered in the hands of the military one after another; a Muslim village in Mindanao whose folk were rounded up one night and gunned down; a hut in the hinterland in the south where a family was killed but the mother survived to tell the story; a high school student who happened to spend the night in a pastor’s home which, as fate would have it, was raided that night. The capture of the female student was only the start of the nightmare she would suffer in the hands of her captors; she was raped repeatedly by men she lost count of. A miracle of a story was not only that she survived the ordeal, she also became a healer of pained souls now in her late adult life.
It is not only the collective trauma of a nation that the creators of 11,103 have captured, but also the irony of its history, and the hope for the retrieval of its memory, indeed its soul.
It is cathartic to see the reel of survivors, most of them in their twilight years now, signing up for reparation. But also it leaves you wondering how and if their stories will live on to the next generations and how they will be believed—or not.
The documentary was finished over a protracted length of time, given the pandemic and other hurdles. This year, finally, it’s being shown, not in mall cinemas where it has a hard time getting slots, but on campuses and other venues where audiences readily gather. You can book screenings (11,103 FB or www.11103film.ph)
The screening is followed by a discussion, sharing and engagement.
A widespread fear today is the revisionism in history, the propaganda and fake news supplanting facts and truths, the yet another miseducation of Filipinos particularly through wrong textbooks.
11103 is not only a fleeting film, not only a platform. It could be that textbook—not perishable, like truth.