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Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan: Where Did We Go Wrong?

Students from the state university shout slogans during a protest in front of the Supreme Court in Manila, against the high court’s decision to allow the burial of the late dictator Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery. Photograph: Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images/Guardian News

ith his campaign pledge on the line, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte appears to be pulling out all the stops to make sure the remains of ex-president Ferdinand Marcos get interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (hero’s cemetery) as soon as possible.

And now that the Philippine Supreme Court has ruled 9-to-5 in favor of Marcos’ burial at Libingan, it is just a matter of time before the former dictator’s mummified remains get to lie amongst honorable Filipinos, many of whom gave up their lives for their country.

So what happened between February 1986—when millions of Filipinos from all walks of life amassed at EDSA (Epifanio del los Santos Avenue), prepared to lay down their lives in order to remove a hated, illegitimate, president who ruled with an iron fist and enriched himself and his cronies at the expense of the Filipino masses—and today? Filipinos forgot!

For starters, more than half of the country’s population was not even born yet. And many of those born before 1986 were too young to experience or understand the horrors of Marcos’ martial law regime. As a people we simply made it a point not to remember. And so we forgot.

Unlike other societies who make sure their people remember their past no matter how horrible, we Filipinos seem to want to sweep our unpleasantries under the rug. We don’t want to talk about them or remember them. Unlike the Jews for example, who have made it a point to insure that future generations understand exactly what their forefathers went through during the Holocaust. The state if Israel in fact makes sure that their citizens and the rest of the world never forget.

This is where we Filipinos failed … more specifically; this is where the Philippine government failed. The horrors, abuses, and injustices that happened during  Martial Law were never imparted to the youth. It was never made an integral part of the history taught in school. Pinoys were simply left to form their own conclusions. In addition prosecution of the Marcoses and their cohorts was sloppy and haphazard so that most of them never faced punishment.  Thus, over time, with alleged Marcos hidden wealth funding spin-doctors and propaganda, some Pinoys started believing the lie that Marcos and Martial Law were actually good for the country.

From the Cory Aquino administration, all the way up to Noy-noy’s there was no systematic effort to educate the public about the horrors and abuses of Martial Law, so now the country is reaping the bitter fruit of that failure.

But it is not too late. Regardless of where Marcos is eventually buried, it behooves us as a freedom-loving people to keep the spirit of EDSA alive and to make sure future generations clearly understand that part of their history so that they can make sure it is never allowed to happen again. Published 11/12/2016

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