"Being a kid doesn't mean not being able to think for themselves..."
On November 18, 2016, the country was shocked when news broke of the stealthy burial of former President and Dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
It was 10 days since the Supreme Court justices ruled 9-5 that Marcos' remains could be put to rest at the LNMB.
He was buried with full military honors, ending a nearly 3-decade long debate but rekindling an old fight for justice.
According to Amnesty International, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed from 1972 to 1981, the period when the country was placed under Martial Law by Marcos.
Naturally, protests sprung up from all over the capital city of Manila, while many Marcos supporters took to the streets as well and on social media.
When a photo of young protesters from St. Scholastica Manila emerged online, the internet was further divided. Some decried it, saying the students were forced into rallying and participating in the noise barrage, while some applauded the children for possessing moral courage at a young age.
Child Abuse or Freedom of Expression?
Celebrity blogger Mocha Uson shared screenshots of messages from an anonymous sender, who claimed to be a parent of a St. Scholastica Manila student. In her messages, she alleged that her child was sent home with permission slips to join an Anti-Marcos rally; she was not pleased and even termed it as "child abuse".
The SSC community got in touch with Uson to air their side of the issue, which she also shared in the "spirit of fairness".
In her message, the administrator clarified that parents of grade school and junior High School students did receive circulars to indicate whether or not they would allow their daughters to join the noise barrage but they were not forced or pressured to participate in any way.
"You may be pleased to know that we have students who did not join because their parents and the students themselves feel that they should not join. And, we absolutely respect that. In fact, those students who did not join stayed in their classrooms. No judgments even if the institution's stand on the issue is crystal clear: Marcos is no hero," wrote JM Lim, one of the administrators of St. Scholastica Manila. "These girls were not forced. They were given a choice. And, they made their choice. I hope we can respect that as much as I respect your commitment to tunay na pagbabago."
"Just learning and a joyful awakening to activism..."
In response, St. Scholastica alumna took to social media to show their support to their alma mater as a place where freedom of expression is encouraged.
One of their esteemed alumnae, Senator Risa Hontiveros, shared an old photo of her while in her 3rd year of High School in St. Scholastica Manila.
"Me in 3rd year high school. No child abuse at all. Just learning & a joyful awakening to activism," she wrote in her post.
Read our interview with one of the students from St. Scholastica on the next page