Liliosa Hilao and the Martial Law (a scene from River of Exploding Durians)





I first read about Liliosa Hilao a couple of years ago. I cannot really remember how did I actually stumble upon her story then. I was in Tokyo, I was binge-reading the colourful history of Philippines on Wikipedia, and like a labyrinth, it led me to unexpected places, namely the sad story of Liliosa Hilao. The atrocities that happened to her during Martial Law were painful to read, and after I was done, I remained haunted by it.

A few years later, when I finally started making my film RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS, I decided to incorporate scenes of a high school class reenacting forgotten ASEAN history, because I was hoping to preserve these in cinema. The truth is, our education system, our history books, just like those in this region, are rather insular and limited, many things weren't allowed for discussion. How then, can we grow if we were kept constantly in a bubble?

One of the scenes in RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS is a reenactment of Liliosa Hilao's story. I decided to upload it a few days ago when I heard of the ongoing political situation in Philippines, where Bongbong Marcos, son of Ferninand Marcos, was running for vice president. A subject of great consternation for many, especially those who had to endure Martial Law. Since many were discussing about how the atrocities were being forgotten, I realized I had to share Liliosa's story to the public.

It took 2 days before it caught on, and to my surprise, the feedback and responses since then had been overwhelming. It's something I've never experienced before. What moved me most was to actually hear from the family of Liliosa Hilao. When I was reading about Liliosa Hilao's story all those years ago, I would never expect to do something that could reach her family. Life is full of surprises. I'm very humbled by this experience.














I have received many thank you comments for helping them "remember" Liliosa Hilao, but I too, have to think everyone for reinforcing my belief that the power of cinema is immeasurable. My most personal films were made to remember things, I am glad that I can help a little with starting a discussion about Liliosa Hilao, and many others who gave their lives during Martial Law. Never forget.

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