And honestly, I’m thinking I should probably try to do so at least once, too.
It was a bad day yesterday, in terms of the history of this poor benighted country of mine. We kind of turned ourselves into a laughingstock — or at least we would be a laughingstock by now if the rest of the world weren’t so riveted to the election results in the US.
Nine of the 14 justices on the Philippine Supreme Court voted to basically allow dictator, plunderer, murderer, and fake bemedaled president Ferdinand Edralin Marcos to be buried in the same hallowed ground as all the actually honorable dead soldiers and dead presidents, in a graveyard that we’re supposed to call the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Graveyard of the Heroes). Five of the justices dissented, and one abstained from voting.
That would be the equivalent of the French government saying, “Oh, there’s space for Adolf Hitler to be buried in the Panthéon in Paris!”
Those nine justices basically took a big, politically-motivated dump on my country, on my country’s history (that is still within living memory), and — this is the really heart-wrenching part — on the graves of the Martial Law victims, and on the heads of the Martial Law survivors.
There were immediate responses to the verdict, of course. I won’t get into the Marcoses’ reactions, because those things are vile and obscene. I’ll talk about the reaction from the opposition, instead. Several groups organized rallies and vigils and protests, including at least two major universities, and I went to one of them, last night.
There was indignation a-plenty, of course, but I stood there speechless with heartbreak and anguish. Mostly because the men and women who had already lived through one hellish exercise in Martial Law were looking the prospect of a repeat straight in the eyes.
Overheard at the rally: “We’ve already lived through this shit and now we have to do it all over again.”
I raised my fist when it was called for, and I applauded the speakers as they spoke with barely-controlled rage and grief, but I was really trying not to break down on the spot.
The painful thing is that we basically did this shit to ourselves.
Martial Law happened. Tens of thousands of people were martyred or forcibly disappeared or worse. The entire country was enslaved for generations to come.
But soon after the whole sordid period was brought to a close, the apologists started to gloss over the dark days. It didn’t even take them that long to lay the foundations that would allow for what would seem like the forgiveness and, worse, the “redemption” of the Marcoses, at whose feet the entire fault and blame of Martial Law can and must be laid. It started with the return of Imelda Marcos and it just snowballed on from there, with the Marcos children clawing their way into political power and influence after their mother, all in the pursuit of papering over the excesses and wrongs of their patriarch’s rule.
The apologists have always been working behind the scenes. They have always been making it so that we buried Martial Law in the past. They have always been making it so that more and more people would respond positively to the flat-out lie that things were good and happy and glorious during the years of Marcos’s strongman rule.
And the apologists have been extending such generous help to so many politicians that it was inevitable that one of them would be elected to high enough office that it would be child’s play to orchestrate yesterday’s farce and travesty.
I have always railed against the cultural tendency to forgive and forget, to sweep things under the rug, and to pay back favors. Because this is what those tendencies are getting us: we’re frankly looking at a repeat of Martial Law. It is right there with a gun pointed right in the nation’s face. Extrajudicial killings, each more brazen than the last; a concerted campaign of violence that targets the poor and those without friends, and lets go those people who have influence and wealth. The continuing perversion of history, which I repeat is still within (painful) living memory for a lot of people.
These thoughts are making me physically sick.
I don’t know how the rallies will help, though I’ll still try to go when I can.
All I know is that there are some bad days ahead for my poor country, which has been turned into the land of the jackboot stomping repeatedly upon some poor sap’s face.
The people have not stirred
We are abandoned by those who still live in fear.
The people have not heard.
Yet we will not abandon those who cannot hear.
From Les Misérables – Dawn Of Anguish – sung by Enjolras