Martial law survivor and cultural activist Bonifacio Ilagan shared his “simulain” or principle and its consequences in a thematic session for student leaders on 26 September 2015 at the Richie Fernando Hall. One hundred fifty-four student participated in the event.
Ilagan was an artist-activist back in his youth, joining the First Quarter Storm and writing in underground newspapers. These involvements caused his arrest and torture during the Martial law era. Until now, he has continued his cultural activism in various media like plays and films. In fact, the Cultural Center of the Philippines recognized him in 1998 as one of the 100 outstanding artists for the last 100 years for his contribution to national development through cultural work and the arts.
In the session, he began with a film presentation of Shapes of Crimson by EJ Mijares. The film tackles his life as well his challenges as a playwright, activist, and family man. He went on by sharing his insights from his experiences. He told the student leaders” “Simulain is a life-defining article of faith; and, by, and in itself, it is a code for living life. Once embraced and lived fully, your simulain becomes your mark. Defines your life, and ultimately delivers you to the end. Whatever it is, history be the judge.”
His simulain has been in the many platforms of arts. He said, “Art is a potent means for your potentials to be realized, because art makes you use your critical faculties and creative imagination to the utmost. Art searches for lost identities. Art empowers.”
In the open forum, Ilagan engaged the participants in conversations, especially on the events and issues of Marcos dictatorship. He clarified the recent misconceptions of the youth about martial law, and urged the students to be vigilant in making sure that martial law will never happen again.
The event, organized by the Office of Student Affairs, is an offering of the Ateneo Leadership Development Program. It aimed at helping facilitate the leaders’ personal and social spiritualties by discovering or rediscovering their values, talents and passion, and at the same time being aware of and engaged in social issues.