Li­way lights up the dark days of Mar­tial Law


There are two things that make me sad about the movie Li­way which is show­ing na­tion­wide this week.

The first is that it only has a lim­ited screen­ing all over the coun­try. In Davao, the film opened on Wed­nes­day in four cin­e­mas. Davao has 27 cin­e­mas, so four is gen­er­ous for a lo­cal indie film. But the next day, it was down to only two cin­e­mas. Sad­der still, the time slots given to the film are in the af­ter­noon slots, a not so con­ve­nient time for peo­ple com­ing from work or want­ing to have a late night movie date.

The sec­ond kind of sad is what you feel af­ter watch­ing the movie. It is a happy-sad feel­ing. Sad that what you see is a true story told in the eyes of a child named Dakip who was born and raised in a de­ten­tion cen­ter, as his par­ents were cap­tured for fight­ing the dic­ta­tor­ship.

His world is con­tained in a com­pound with barbed wired walls, and the only time he sees the world is when his mother helped him up a tree to see what was beyond the walls.

The first time he got to step out of the com­pound was when a nun re­quested Dakip’s par­ents to have him speak in a rally. Dakip hears and learns who his par­ents are. When it was his turn to speak, he seems over­whelmed, but tells a very per­sonal story that strikes the ral­ly­ists, and the film’s au­di­ence as well.

In such a harsh so­ci­ety, Dakip finds so­lace in bed­time sto­ries told by his mother, about a woman fighter named Li­way. The sto­ries are ac­tu­ally the per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of his mother, who had to join the guer­rilla fight­ers when Mar­tial Law cracked down against ac­tivists.

This film is nat­u­rally pro­found be­cause it is a per­sonal nar­ra­tive of direc­tor Kip Oe­banda about his child­hood and of his mother, fa­ther and other de­tainees in Camp Del­gado in Iloilo. It is a happy-sad story be­cause you see how such fam­i­lies try to find the spirit and courage to live through such try­ing times, rais­ing fam­i­lies in a not so nor­mal pe­riod.

Told from the eyes of a child, I find this movie speaks of my gen­er­a­tion, the Mar­tial Law ba­bies gen­er­a­tion, of grow­ing up in si­lence, es­capism and pro­pa­ganda. It also speaks to mil­len­ni­als and to other gen­er­a­tions as well, who have dim mem­o­ries of our past. This movie lets a child’s view of re­al­ity rip through our myths of what Mar­tial Law was.

It’s kind of sad that we have been say­ing we need films that will en­lighten the peo­ple about the dark Mar­tial Law pe­riod. Yet we still need to find its au­di­ence as well.

Watch Li­way and let her story light such hope.

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