Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Abellanosa: Can we humanize Marcos?

Fringes and Frontiers

FOR all we know, Toni Gonzaga is the greatest beneficiary of all the reactions on social media for or against her interview with Bongbong Marcos. She has achieved free promotion that boosted her popularity without much sweat. Still, this is not a reason to divert the issue. Regardless of Toni’s intentions, the Marcoses remain to be a family who have a lot to answer for in this country. It is not an issue of forgiveness but of social justice.

Precisely why despite the attempt of some to “sugarcoat” the interview with the proposal to “also” look at the human side of Bongbong and his father, much caution remains necessary especially on the part of those who do not do much research when it comes to history.

Revisionism is the expertise of dictators. Twisted histories and accounts are now promoted in the name of postmodernism and deconstruction. In the end, and often our realization is late, we would wake up to the inversion of narratives and the resurrection of oligarchies which should have been vanquished in the not so distant past.

But there are other approaches or perspectives to the issue which I find equally dangerous. This comes from those who do not attempt to directly revise history. I am referring to those who would like to appear that they are reflective and level-headed, and that it would be best to have an open mind when it comes to the Marcos issue.

I have read postings from friends and acquaintances who are into psychology. They are more interested in exploring the “science” behind the sinister figure called Marcos. Some would go as far as trying to understand the psychological factors behind tyranny.

The attempt to “humanize” Ferdinand Marcos is, for me, the greatest blunder. In the very first place “humanization” is not a characteristic that we can speak of about Marcos’ rule. It is one thing to say that Marcos was a human being, but it is another to insist that his regime was “humanizing.” In fact, historians should be honest enough to tell us how much dehumanization has happened during his regime. Granting for the sake of argument that he was not the one who directly put his hand on all those who died and disappeared but in the hierarchy of power, he cannot be exonerated from what happened during those long years mired with police and military brutality.

Anyone who would speak of the “human side” of Marcos without giving any regard to the “dehumanized” experience of his victims is guilty of blunder. I find such an attempt deceptive. There is no way that we can “fantasize” what Marcos was not and “mythologize” what he, actually, did. Those who would obstinately pursue this endeavor are plain dishonest.

It is true that many of us who are against Marcos were not born nor fully aware of what happened. This is an argument invoked by Marcos allies, sympathizers, and loyalists like Juan Ponce Enrile. Unfortunately, Enrile may have lived to experience Marcos himself, but he was a beneficiary and not a victim of the regime. Between him and the Redemptorist, Karl Gaspar, for example, I should listen to the latter who never enjoyed that Marcosian privilege during Martial Law years.

Tempting as it may be to take a rather “reflective” approach to the interview, but this is something that I would not want to give in. True that there is beauty in this world if only we’d take time to see them. But there are just certain things that are so ugly that you should expose their ugliness plain and simple. Violence is one. And for people who experience violence, it is not “reflection” that they need but “justice.” Give justice first and let the reflection flow naturally once due has been given to those who were oppressed, cheated, raped, and tortured.


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