On the 9th of December, 2013, the Palma Hall Lobby was adorned with a sea of black. The colors black and white haunted the passer-by’s of the hall. A vast wall of photos and memories was put up to celebrate the lives of the martyrs of the martial law.
The lives of the nameless heroes were anything but black and white. Most of these heroes lived lives more colourful than we could even imagine. Despite the spectrum of color they left when they departed our earthly world, their lives are still perfectly represented by these two colors. Black, white, and a hint of red. Their pictures, memories and footprints are barely embedded in people’s minds. Their faces are barely recognized, their words barely remembered. From a picturesque view of infinite hues, all that are left for us to remember them by are black and white parcels of yesterday.
There is something about the colors black and white that seem to immediately grab our attention. It’s probably the feeling of unrest. There’s something about these colors that linger. For some reason, unlike other colors, it takes so much more to fade black and white. These colors are our heroes—unrested yet quiet. Their names barely heard, yet when we hear their stories, they resonate. We are unable to unhear the words that make up the stories of their brutal deaths.
There’s something about the colors black and white that seem to draw us in. Black and white images seem to pique our curiosity. There’s something about these colors that invite. These colors make us want to travel back to the past and unmask a part of history. There’s something about these colors that make us yearn: for knowledge, for progress. These colors are our heroes—trapped in a dark segment of history. Their lives, pleading to be unearthed. Their remnants, giving us blurred images of what might have been.
There’s something about that colors black and white that seem to echo through time. There’s a certain timelessness, as if the images are returned to our minds over and over. As if these are footages being replayed without end. We are these colors. We are black and white. We hold the names of these heroes and allow them to remain relevant to the present.
On the 9th of December the Nameless held a talk regarding human rights. Dignity was instilled in the audience. In the exhibit there were candles. Each candle varied, but when lit, they all burn the same. They all melt the same. Why must anyone be allowed to suffer?
Candles are often associated with either hope or death. It’s customary for most Filipinos to associate candles with various types of suffering. We light candles for our success, for our failures, our grieving, and our mourning. We light candles for hope. We light candles when darkness overwhelms. We light up the dark past where our heroes thrived. The candles represent their temporary lives. They battled through the pitch black, and we remember them with the bright glow they casted upon our present.
There’s something about candles that seem to trigger reflection. It must be the flickering light. It must be the bright orange glow. These candles are our heroes—their lives call us to reminisce. To them our debts are unpayable, yet we question what else we are left to do. Their lives were like flickering candles. They withstood tough blows, the conquered dark nights.
There’s something about candles that seem heroic. It must be their short lives. It must be the way they allow themselves to light up, and eventually melt. These candles are our heroes—truly sacrificial. Like candles they melted to shed light on others. Their lives were taken, but the gleams of light they shed were blinding.
There’s something about candles that seem to spark. We are these candles. We are the bearers of hope, the carriers of the past. We sing the stories of the unsung. We name the names of the nameless.