The title of this piece, 1081, refers to Proclamation 1081, the decree by which President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines in September 1972. With the law, Marcos consolidated his power and strictly curbed voices of dissent to his rule. The images in this etching allude to Marcos’s rule through military might and to the civil unrest of the times. Benedicto Cabrera (also known as Bencab) is one of the best known of a group of Filipino artists whose works reflect the turbulent times of the 1970s. These artists, who were called Social Realists, sought to speak out through their work against the Marcos regime and the totalitarian decree of martial law.
“The title 1081 refers to Presidential Proclamation No. 1081, the declaration of martial law in the Philippines in 1972 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos. I had returned to the Philippines then but because of the repressive Marcos dictatorship, I moved back to London in 1974 where I was free to continue making political statements in my artworks. I decided to permanently move back to the Philippines in late 1985, when it was apparent that the Marcos regime was falling apart. I was fortunate to be a part of the February 1986 People Power revolution that finally toppled the dictatorship. The etching shows a soldier trampling over dead bodies of political victims. The top left shows Marcos’s fist the moment he declared martial law on national television. Top right shows anti- Marcos rallies.”
-Benedicto Reyes Cabrera (Artist)