Students from the state university shout slogans during a
protest in front of the Supreme Court in Manila, against the high
court’s decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Marcos at the
heroes’ cemetery. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images/Guardian News
his campaign pledge on the line, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
appears to be pulling out all the stops to make sure the remains of
ex-president Ferdinand Marcos get interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani
(hero’s cemetery) as soon as possible.
And now that the
Philippine Supreme Court has ruled 9-to-5 in favor of Marcos’ burial at
Libingan, it is just a matter of time before the former dictator’s
mummified remains get to lie amongst honorable Filipinos, many of whom
gave up their lives for their country.
So what happened
between February 1986—when millions of Filipinos from all walks of life
amassed at EDSA (Epifanio del los Santos Avenue), prepared to lay down
their lives in order to remove a hated, illegitimate, president who
ruled with an iron fist and enriched himself and his cronies at the
expense of the Filipino masses—and today? Filipinos forgot!
For starters, more
than half of the country’s population was not even born yet. And many of
those born before 1986 were too young to experience or understand the
horrors of Marcos’ martial law regime. As a people we simply made it a
point not to remember. And so we forgot.
Unlike other societies
who make sure their people remember their past no matter how horrible,
we Filipinos seem to want to sweep our unpleasantries under the rug. We
don’t want to talk about them or remember them. Unlike the Jews for
example, who have made it a point to insure that future generations
understand exactly what their forefathers went through during the
Holocaust. The state if Israel in fact makes sure that their citizens
and the rest of the world never forget.
This is where we
Filipinos failed … more specifically; this is where the Philippine
government failed. The horrors, abuses, and injustices that happened
during Martial Law were never imparted to the youth. It was never made
an integral part of the history taught in school. Pinoys were simply left
to form their own conclusions. In addition prosecution of the Marcoses
and their cohorts was sloppy and haphazard so that most of them never
faced punishment. Thus, over time, with alleged Marcos hidden wealth
funding spin-doctors and propaganda, some Pinoys started believing the
lie that Marcos and Martial Law were actually good for the country.
From the Cory Aquino
administration, all the way up to Noy-noy’s there was no systematic
effort to educate the public about the horrors and abuses of Martial
Law, so now the country is reaping the bitter fruit of that failure.
But it is not too
late. Regardless of where Marcos is eventually buried, it behooves us as
a freedom-loving people to keep the spirit of EDSA alive and to make
sure future generations clearly understand that part of their history so
that they can make sure it is never allowed to happen again.