The Marcoses should not gloat

By: Jobers R. Bersales November 16,2016 - 09:28 PM

The recent decision of the majority in the Supreme Court to allow the burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is without doubt a most unfortunate turn of events. But it was not altogether unexpected.

Despite all the arguments made against allowing the burial on hallowed grounds of the architect and main beneficiary of Martial Law and its tragic aftermath, it was clear that post-Marcos presidents and governments had been remiss in their duty to forcefully inculcate “Never Again!” to the Filipino nation.

Indeed, one can even argue that revisionism about those dark and dreadful years under the Marcos dictatorship was allowed to quietly happen, even with two Aquinos occupying Malacañang. There just wasn’t enough- — if at all — of any coherent, strategic effort to continuously remind the Filipino nation that Marcos was the epitome of evil. Consider, for example, Vietnam, where every nook and cranny until lately has been crammed with reminders of American atrocities during the Vietnam War. Who would ever forget those dark years?

In the Philippines, on the contrary, all the major cities did not put up even a small gallery nor make any serious attempt at recording and then archiving the testimonies and experiences of people during those dark days. A book on Martial Law in Cebu, for one, is yet to be written.

And so it indeed comes as no surprise for us who were student activists in those dark days that the Marcoses made their arguments more forcefully to the agreement of the Supreme Court magistrates.

But I must take issue with how the Marcoses, and especially Imee, reacted to the decision by the highest court of the land.
If indeed the Marcoses wanted everyone to move on and not be tied down by the vicissitudes of history, gloating and even going beyond the intent of the Supreme Court decision clearly did not send the right signal.

The Marcoses can still appear magnanimous by a simple gesture. And I do not even mean asking for forgiveness for all the evil wrought upon thousands of Filipinos who were detained without trial, who were tortured and even the many who disappeared into the night never to be seen nor heard from again. I do not even mean returning the billions of dollars stashed away in hidden accounts, beyond those still locked in litigation in the US and elsewhere.

The better thing to do for the Marcoses would have been to express this singular triumph for them privately and quietly. And then Imee could have dropped a magnanimous bombshell in this manner: “While we are happy at the decision to allow our father to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and while we are thankful to the Supreme Court for taking our side in this contentious issue, the family has decided that this recognition of our right is enough vindication for us. As a result, we have decided that while the offer stands, we would rather not take it at this time inasmuch as many Filipinos still see our father in a different light. We would rather not add to the divisions that already threaten to rent asunder the Filipino nation.”

Now that would have endeared her to the nation. And, without doubt, it would have helped the healing process somewhat.

The opportunity, alas, is now water under the bridge. And so, with suddenly renewed fervor, those who suffered under the dictatorship are rallying to awaken the nation in its stupor once more.

As a person identified with museums, heritage and publishing, this is my two cents’ word of advice: So that the Filipino people will not forget, gather those mementos of those dark years. Set up museums, galleries and exhibitions in every town and city, every nook and cranny. Write down your memoirs and submit them to publishing houses for consideration.

The generation that experienced the dictatorship in all its naked violence and corruption is passing on and pretty soon, like the Tres de Abril Revolt of 1898, no one will remember, no one will care. Seize the hour! Seize the day!

* * *

The food writing and food critiquing forum called Power of Pen-Visayas is happening this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Dingman Hall, second floor of A. Dingman Builing, USC Downtown Campus (former Main Campus). Kindly call Tina Bernil of USC Press (Tel. 230-0100 loc. 290) for details on registration fees and others. See you there!

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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, hero, Libingan ng Mga Bayani, Marcoa, Marcos, Supreme Court

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