HOW far have we moved on from our oppressive colonial past? Not very far. Judging by the problems we are facing as a nation today, we have been moving more sideways than forward.

Political leaders still behave like representatives of royalty. Closely aping the leadership style of colonial satraps, they act like know-it-all despots. Acting like God’s gift to the nation they insist on deciding what is good for all the people.

Economic leaders are just as despotic. Claiming absolute ownership they give workers and tenant-farmers not their just rewards but what they think is “generous” compensation to the “lazy.” And we still wonder why dire poverty stalks only the lives of workers and tenant-farmers?

Our Catholic religious leaders are even more despotic. Claiming divine inspiration they still impose the Spanish friars’ fanatic mix of religion and superstition on Filipinos who are slow to mature religiously for playing it safe and docilely submitting, lest they go to hell, to the former’s regulations on worship and interpretations of dogma and morals.

A submissive and dependent people emerged from this style of leadership. It is this submissive attitude of the oppressed that allowed in general for the nation’s sideways movement and in particular for the cruelest sideways movement of all, the late dictator’s Martial Law.

How long ago was the Edsa revolution? And how grandly have we been celebrating its anniversary ever since? Yet how far have we moved on after all those grand remembrances? Not very far.

We still fight one another for things to be done our self-serving ways. We cannot agree on a common direction moving forward. We hate Martial Law yet we have not shaken our despotic colonial past and continue to model despotism at home, in government, in business, in church, at school.

We will never get unglued from our colonial past if all we do is engage in self-indulgent infighting. Somehow, we must bury the regressive portions of our past yet remember to cover up and mark the grave so we don’t forget the ugliness that we buried there and that we need to replace.

We should remember the past not so much to give vent to frustration and anger as to unite around a new set of patriotic attitudes and values that would promote, establish and underpin inclusive and empowering social structures.

We can only move on if first we remember what of our ugly past we buried, oppressive colonial attitudes that underwrote past undemocratic political structures of which Martial Law was the traumatic extreme.

Where Marcos is buried and how we commemorate Edsa have very little to do with this. What matters next and most is what we do after night falls on our protests and commemorations.