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Martial Law, Prospects of London and Peps Villanueva

Third of a series

When Ferdinand E. Marcos placed the entire Philippines in 1972 under Martial Law its scepter was gripped in all institutions of the country including the academe.

Student organizations initially were banned and if there would be organizing spirit must consult first with respective authorities who demanded to subscribe to the principles of Bagong Lipunan. Groupings in campuses were monitored if not discouraged especially with political linings. Social groups were allowed but strictly surveyed. Those orgs which had been established before the military rule were screened thoroughly to adapt to the vision of Marcos’ New Society before given clearances.

But as the days and months passed, the ones recognized by the school long before the declaration of Martial Law who took responsibility on them were given the authority and go-signal to resurface, to restructure, and to function anew provided no dissenting opinion or persuasion against the status quo was espoused.

The Artlets Economics Society in which Jose Villanueva—now more known in the entire college as Peps Villanueva—was jumpstarted. Jose was in his third-year majoring in Eco with brilliant professors like George Garcia, Amor Pedro, etc. attending to his and his classmates' educational well-being. Father Frederick Fermin, O.P.—a Dutch, was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters—who painstakingly guided all the students at his college in consonance with the guidelines of Martial Law.

The UST campus especially the Artlets home front suddenly became quiet of student unrest but deep in the recesses of its student leaders it was just a hiatus—a respite of a sleeping dragon willing to strike again at the right time and the right occasion.

Meanwhile, the promdi (Filipino slang of “a person from the province”) from Quezon was in his second-year general educ. While Jose was an active member of AES, he was a frat brother of Phi Chi Rho—the only recognized fraternity in the college—who was initiated before Martial Law. He might have had the chance to meet Peps but it was all in the general membership of the Artlets community and in passing. The Quezonian just had a routinely house-school-school-house affair compared to the Batangueño who had a social life of his own being during the dictatorship.

At the time Jose’s dad had a skilled employment export to the United Kingdom as the direct contact of a Hindu-British principal in London. The Villanueva patriarch aside from holding an office in Manila had also shared the main branch in London. He sent skilled workers to work in various jobs in the UK capital city.

When Jose finished his academics in Eco in his junior year he was sent to London by his dad. As an heir apparent to his father, Jose was as professional and as earnest as him because it was a challenge to his son no matter, he would miss this schooling in the Philippines. It was a commitment to his dad so he must make good at it. “Ipinadala ako ng tatay ko sa London para ako ang mag-asikaso ng negosyo niya ro’n (I was sent by my dad to London to manager his business there),” Peps recalled. There was no turning back. It was for the good of the family. He abided. 

The promdi, meanwhile was caught between the devil and the deep blue if to major or not in Mass Communication, a course very uncommon at the time. But his orientation was show business if not entirely the movies so he would want to become a radio announcer like Eddie Ilagan o Vic Morales—a try to become another Ike Lozada or German Moreno wasn’t a far-fetched idea altogether. He would remember when he stowed away one Sunday morning from his brother’s house and went straight to the old ABS-CBN in the same location today at Mother Ignacia and Bohol Avenue (now Sgt. Esguerra) where he would spend his day and go home to Pantranco bus terminal in Quezon Avenue corner Roosevelt (now Fisher Mall) to sleep the night away and then went back to ABS-CBN again the following day.

While Jose was working hard and at the same having fun at the job site, the promdi was finally enrolled in Literature class in Artlets because he couldn’t make sense of taking entrance exams in Mass Comm as his inferiority complex was working for him while puzzling if not suffering in silence at the same time comparing himself with the likes of city-bred and high-filer loquacious students in the limelight. No regrets, though, majoring in Lit for it paved the way for a more introspective sense of life and articulation. He also had some academic backlogs for he flunked two or three subjects because of on-and-off student activism.

Literature could bring one to the other side of the world like in the dystopian future society in the novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)” of George Orwell or in Scotland in “To the Lighthouse” or in London in “Mrs. Dalloway,” both novels of Virginia Woolf.

Jose might have met many future Mrs. Dalloways (even her Filipino version) along the way in his one year in London. He must be Richard Dalloway who was a responsible guy in heart and in mind.

In no time at all, Peps met his future Mrs. Dalloway in a Filipina nurse. The meeting had bloomed into love the way a stream of consciousness in the mind of every living character would develop into a colorful tale of interaction and later, union. It was a fascinating love story any author could get inspiration from. If Woolf were alive during that time perhaps, she could have written a beautiful love of color if she was encouraging catholic still in the stream of consciousness—or Orwell could predict the mixed marriage of multiracial ethnicities or same race in his other futuristic writings when Asian ethnicity had just slowly sat in the mainstream of British society before he died.

Love and career were Peps inspirations to achieve more in his life.

Will he settle in London forever at the time? (To be continued)

Part One

Part Two

Part Four



Unang Yugto

Ikalawang Yugto

Ikatlong Yugto

Ikaapat na Yugto


1)      Peps Villanueva with Filipino nurses

2)      Peps Villanueva with Gerald Santos

3)      Peps Villanueva with Gia Macuja

4)      Peps Villanueva with Grace Poe

5)      Peps Villanueva with Gretchen Barretto

6)      Peps Villanueva with the International Olympic Committee

7)      Peps Villanueva

8)      Peps Villanueva with Janella Salvador

9)      Peps Villanueva with Janella Salvador

10)    Peps Villanueva with JBK

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