New Internationalist

Never Forget: The Ampatuan Massacre

In Vietnam, thousands flock to the war museum everyday to see photographs of the Vietnam War. The photos are brazen and piercing. Photos of the victims of Agent Orange, the extremely toxic chemical used by the US military during the war which lasted from 1955 to 1975, still bring tears to the hundreds of visitors that come to the museum daily.

Provocative images, indeed, will stick to one’s soul far longer than any story, poetry or prose ever could.

Because of this, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an organization of working journalist unions, put up a roaming exhibition, Never Forget: The Ampatuan Massacre, so that the world would remember the Philippines’ worst incident of election-related violence.

Photo by Veejay Villafranca.

NUJP hopes that through these bold and striking photographs, the world will never forget that more than a year ago, under a glistening sun in a place they called home, 58 people were massacred by a member of a ruling clan desperate to stay in power.

Never Forget, curated by Filipino documentary photographer Jes Aznar, is presented by the NUJP along with the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Center for Photojournalism.

Photo by Jes Aznar.

‘Never Forget explores how the beautiful yet troubled province of Maguindanao has bred the culture of impunity that paved the way for the Ampatuan Massacre. It revisits the aftermath of that gruesome day of 23 November 2009. It also shows the collective grief and rage through numerous protest rallies and commemorative vigils by colleagues, friends and supporters, here and abroad.

‘Never Forget features the works of members of the NUJP, the PCP and photojournalist colleagues from all over the country as well as worldwide. Never Forget is a work in progress, with more photos to be added as the coverage of the issue continues. Never Forget is also a travelling exhibit as we aim to bring it to public spaces, schools and communities who wish to host it,’ the NUJP said.

Photo by Carsten Stormer and Nonoy Espina.

Never Forget has been exhibited in different universities around Metro Manila. These include University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication and the University of Santo Tomas College of Arts and Letters.

NUJP said that for 2011, the exhibit would again be put up in one of the country’s schools on 23 January 2011, the 14th month anniversary of the massacre.

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  1. #1 Andy Kadir-Buxton 19 Jan 11

    War Atrocities

    As a child I grew up watching the atrocities in Vietnam on our new colour TV. The US forces had a game where they raped the injured, and I saw a Vietname woman who had her arms and legs blown off being raped. She actually lived to tell the tale, hopefully for the rest of her life. The war machine has learned and now we are not allowed to see what they get up to. The number of times I have heard of atrocities from the media in the UK was once, the reporter said attrocities similar to those in Vietnam were being carried out and that he had had a very hard time getting anything into print. He was not allowed to say what he had seen. Blessed are the Peace Makers, for they are the children of God. And to Hell with the war makers.

  2. #2 Iris Gonzales 19 Jan 11


    Thank you for your comment. I totally agree. War is hell but still there are people who continue to fuel it. That is the tragedy.

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About the author

Iris Gonzales a New Internationalist contributor

Iris Cecilia Gonzales is a Filipino journalist and blogger. At present, she covers economic news for a Manila broadsheet, but she also writes other stories here and there. She has been blogging since 2004 on various issues including women and children and human rights. She is among the winners in the TH!NK 3 global blogging competition organized by the Netherlands-based European Journalism Centre.

You may email her at [email protected]

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