While I was growing up, my dad always reminded me before any big decision that he and my mom taught me right from wrong and the rest was up to me. When the Marcos family announced and shamelessly publicized the burial of their patriarch in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani on November 18, they took us all by surprise. Many instantly abandoned their classrooms and offices and took to the streets in outrage. The critics narrow these protestors down to Aquino supporters, yellowtards, or anti-government or anti-Duterte crowds. But I asked myself what I thought was right and what was wrong and I knew my answer. From here on out, I will no longer stay silent about this.
To those who’d like us to “move on” from this issue:
If we move on from this and accept a criminal’s burial in a place for heroes and soldiers, then we are merely believing that everything written on history books and everything we were taught in school was one big steaming pile of cow dung. The body count? The torture stories? The stolen money? The MARTIAL LAW? Who cares, it was all in the past anyway, right? Well, you see kids, the past and present are connected (surprise).
Remember all those petty criminals whose bodies are lined up in sacks, carelessly labeled for their crimes as a “snatcher” or “drug addict”? Well, isn’t it unjust and unfair that the biggest plunderer of them all, the man whose family stole billions from us as a people, is getting a hero’s burial? All this at the promise one man (our president) made to another and a family going behind our backs in a surprise funeral, despite the people’s request not to have him buried there?!?
So by letting this happen, we’re saying, “oh, yea his life mattered and we honor what this dictator did but these small-time criminals are trash. They are beneath us and they have no room for change.” This is the exact opposite of the good change we want to see in the people. We are learning to become apathetic and lazy instead of empathetic. Change has definitely come, but in the worst way. Take note, the world is also watching us right now and we look completely mad.
Also, our present state as a country wouldn’t be this dire, had we not suffered economically during the 21 years of the Marcos administration. We could have done so much with the money that was stolen from our nation. In fact, here’s a list of what we could have today, had it not been for the family’s ill-gotten wealth.
I’d like to think there’s a difference between “moving on” from something and changing its chronicles completely. By accepting this new reality, we are paving the way for future mistakes, as well. Why even bother studying history when we’re just going to make the same mistakes as those from the past. How is that “moving on”? We have to move forward and call out a spade for what it is.
To those who say we’re just Aquino supporters or “yellowtards”:
At this point, I don’t even care where the body is buried. My friend Patti made a wonderful point: Are the Aquinos even in the picture? They aren’t. It’s not about whether if you’re pro-Aquino or pro-Duterte. It’s more than that. We are telling future generations that Marcos was not such a bad guy after all even given all the facts of his wrongdoings. American writer Alfred McCoy estimated in a major history book he authored, Policing America’s Empire, that 3,257 people were killed during the Marcos dictatorship from 1975 to 1985, while 35,000 were tortured and some 70,000 were arrested. Those were just numbers, right? They weren’t actual people who lived and had families and aspirations like you and me, right? It was all in the past and we should just forgive, right? That time was NOT a long time ago. There are people still affected today, people who actually suffered.
Let’s be honest: it’s convenient not to care about these past events. It didn’t happen to us per se, so why bother. Go on, and have dinner in the comforts of your home, surrounded by your loved ones. Continue watching your shows on Netflix and worrying about which restaurant to eat at tonight. It’s so easy to play no part in it but be wary that it *might* breed laziness and selfishness. Okay this sounds really preachy and virtuous but this is just an exasperated me talking.
Why am I doing this now?
I’ve stayed silent for so long. I don’t see myself as a particularly strong person with a grounded political opinion but I want to act against what I think is wrong. The happenings of today will go down in history once more and I ask myself, would I like to see future generations getting the shock of their lives when another multi-hyphenate of crime gets honored as a hero in a surprise burial? It’s really not a fun ordeal (but that’s just me).
One route would be to sit still and hope for the better. In Alma Moreno’s clumsy words, “Dasal. Dasal nalang,” but if we can get up and do something, then why not? We can pray and hope but we can also use our voices. This is the same voice that was granted back to us after the fall of a dictator (the same one who got a hero’s burial in secret!) 30 years ago. I had always been afraid to say anything but I kept telling myself that if there was ever a time to be brave, that time is now.
I’m simply fighting for what I believe is just. This is a way for us protesters to honor those who have fallen and have survived in the past and also a way for us to enlighten those in the present, because somewhere along the way, lines blurred, a villain became a hero, and the people who’ve made it so still walk among us.