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A can of worms, figurative not literal

By: Jobers R. Bersales November 23,2016 - 08:51 PM

I am not certain if President Rodrigo Duterte intended this to happen, but it appears that his decision to abide by a campaign promise — and some old familial sentiments — to allow the interment of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the hallowed Libingan ng mga Bayani has opened up a can of worms.

Not literally, of course, as my good friend, the Inquirer columnist from Cagayan de Oro, Antonio Roa Montalvan II (a relative of Duterte), already exposed the reality (confirmed by some tourists last week) that Marcos’ body had long rotten away, with worms presumably feasting on it a long time ago.

The can of worms that I am figuratively referring to actually works for both the contending parties of this sordid and macabre politics now upon us, thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision.

This sudden awakening from a long stupor that many anti-Marcos activists and ordinary participants of the much-touted People Power Revolution of 1986 shows very much how far (or oh so near would be more apt) we have actually traveled in terms of really ensuring that the Marcos dictatorship would be held accountable.

The Marcos camp probably sees the sudden protests whipped up by the actual burial of their beloved Ilocano as something to dismiss easily because, after all, not a single national protest occurred while the Marcoses reaped victory after judicial victory over the past two decades.

The burial, for them, is nothing but a continuing pattern of successes that started with the physical return of Imelda and her children to the country.

There is a post going viral on Facebook and other social media sites that someone shared to me, which I ask you dear readers to react to and see if what is being said there — I warn you, it is a long post — hits you right in the gut. It’s entitled “Open Letter to All: Where the f*ck have you all been?”

It was first posted by Erin Ko on her Facebook page but has since been adopted by other sites and shared numerous times.

In gist, the post lambasts the sudden protestations many are making in regard to the Marcos reburial, a term that is more appropriate. In the end, the author blames the Filipino people for allowing so much injustice to happen and a pattern of deceit that started almost immediately after Marcos and his ilk were thrown out of the country.

It is a poignant statement in and of itself, which like James Fallows in his scathing and much-attacked 1987 article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “A Damaged Culture” directs everyone’s attention to whether something is inherently wrong in us as a people.

As a social science practitioner, I will be the first to tell you that no culture is ever flawed. It is men and women and the structures perpetuating inequality that these people, by virtue of their immense political and social power, build in society which in turn allow evil things to happen.

The return to the pre–Martial Law political system which restored power to the old, wealthy and politically powerful families who were unceremoniously removed by Marcos started us on this path of failure. The burial of Marcos is but a symptom of how far we still have to go to rebuild a society that is better and more equitable than what we are in today.

The social and political structures in our midst are the very ones that allowed not just this burial to happen but also for the Marcoses to come back, even get elected and, who knows, one of them might even become president of the country in the future.

It is not just the burial that we must condemn nor the Marcoses alone. At the end of the day, we need to look towards even much larger things like replacing the structures that we have allowed the elite to build upon our social landscape, structures, both social and mental, that perpetuate their interests and lull the majority into thinking that these are all a given or even part of our culture or, God forbid, our destiny as a people.

We can do better. We can be better as a people. But it will take rending asunder the very same shackles that gave the Marcoses their victories.

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TAGS: Cagayan de Oro, Duterte, Ferdinand Marcos, Marcos, President Rodrigo Duterte

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