This clip is marked “General street scenes in Manila during martial law.” At first glance, life in Quiapo and its environs seems deceptively normal five days after the declaration of PD 1081. If one observes more closely, however, burgeoning discontent is manifest. Walls are slathered with words like “Digmaang bayan – sagot sa martial law (People’s war – antidote to martial law)” and “Itaguyod ang kalayaang Pilipino (Stand for Filipino freedom),” painted in fiery red. A week before this clip was filmed, various organizations had gathered at nearby Plaza Miranda to protest the looming imposition of martial law.

The streets’ seeming peace reveals an undercurrent of repression when a police officer, armed with a rifle and a pair of scissors, starts snipping at the locks of a long-haired youth. “We were taught to fear the police and the military,” recalls historian Ambeth Ocampo. “They punished curfew violators and jaywalkers with exposure to the sun or doing an unreasonable number of pushups. In the early days of martial law they rounded up young men with long hair and shaved their heads.”