Velez: Marcos, Memory and Martial Law


MARCOS pa rin. I'm saying this not because I am a Marcos loyalist. But I'm saying this because we need to learn from what Marcos has left us: a legacy of corrupt power, a society that hasn't changed for the better, and a comeback that could happen.

Maybe that is why the University of the Philippines is opening next semester a subject on Martial Law titled "Philippine Studies 21: Wika, Panitikan, at Kultura sa Ilalim ng Batas Militar."

I wonder why it took so long, 33 years after his ouster, to finally put Marcos in our history and cultural subject. But the times dictate we need to do so now.

We have a Marcos daughter in the Senate. We have a Marcos son who may contemplate to run for the presidency in 2022. They have created a narrative through social media that their father's legacy is the golden years. They put images of Marcos, his words delivered in oratorical style, his projects of roads, bridges, hospitals, agriculture that brought "growth", and manipulated them to make the presidents that come after him look as elite and neglectful of the masa.

With that, the stream of public consciousness now has a fascination to strongman rule, and also to Martial Law as a key to peace and order. This stream has clicked because of our collective amnesia. And I speak not against the millennials, but to my generation as well, the Martial Law babies (as we are called such for being born in the 1970s) who seem to be okay with strongman rule.

It is a thought also that perplexes Brother Karl Gapsar, a writer, biographer, who was twice detained during the Marcos' dictatorship. He shared during a forum on Democracy and Disinformation, as he wonders why Martial Law survivors would think Duterte's Martial Law is okay.

He brings up comparative statistic: 4,000 killed, around 35,000 tortured and some 70,000 arrested during Marcos' 14-year dictatorship. Duterte's Martial Law on its third year has brought 5,000 to 25,000 killed in both his drug war and counter-insurgency campaigns.

"We seem to have failed in our basic arithmetic course as we cannot see the huge difference," he said. But it is not just the math that we failed, but our memory as well.

There is a need to shift the tide of the narrative that Marcoses and the elites want us to believe. All schools should teach the history of Marcos. All schools should open the huge wave of literature, film, and documentaries on the Marcos' dictatorship, and even living testimonies of Martial Law survivors, to make our next generation know how we failed and how we should move forward.

Indeed, we need to change the narrative from "Marcos Pa Rin" to Never Again.


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