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  1. #1

    Mahathir questions Filipino-style democracy

    Mahathir questions Filipino-style democracy

    by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
    Posted at 06/11/2012 4:06 PM | Updated as of 06/11/2012 5:22 PM


    'Unbridled democracy yields mediocre leaders,' says ex-Malaysian PM

    MANILA, Philippines - Malaysia’s Prime Minister of 22 years, Mahathir Mohamad today questioned Filipino-style democracy and raised the spectre of mediocre political leadership as the Philippines marks its 114th Independence Day.

    Mahathir was conferred an Honorary Professor Title by the University of Santo Tomas this morning.

    In his conferment speech, Mahathir said, “No doubt democracy is being practised by this country. But is it really what democracy is all about? Is democracy the end or the means? If we think that democracy is the end, then well and good. But why did we change from autocracy to democracy? Wasn’t it because autocracy had failed to deliver the good life that we wanted? We believed that since it is the people who disapproved of autocracy, then if the people were to rule the country, then surely they would rule themselves well.”

    Mahathir reminded his Filipinos audience that one pitfall of unbridled democracy is a poor leadership. “The leader in particular must be incorruptible. His being so will lessen the level of corruption among those under him. There will still be corruption but the degree would be less…In every country there are great people who should lead, but seeing the filth in politics ad the fears of those who come into power they are unwilling to take the risk. And so very often the leaders are mediocre people at best, present company accepted.”

    Mahathir later on added, “We cannot assume majority of the people must be intelligent. In many instances, majority is not intelligent and minority refuses to be Involved because they think politics is dirty. If you don’t manage democracy well it is not going to pay dividends.“

    Later on in the open forum, Mahathir was told that his contemporary, former President Ferdiand Marcos was a dictator. His response, “Marcos was elected, he was elected after he was elected, power corrupts that’s what happens to him. your choosing him was still a democratic procedure, look what happens when you make a wrong choice.”

    Unstable democracies, technological advances

    Mahathir likewise pointed out that as seen in other countries, unbridled democracy is bad since it makes countries unstable.

    “We are living in a tumultuous world, in a world of political turmoil, in a world of economic turmoil, in a world of social turmoil. We are seeing the collapse of moral values and of beliefs. All the things that we used to value are being questioned, scrutinised and in many cases rejected, to be replaced by what is called freedom, freedom which is enjoyed by some at the expense of others, often at the expense of the community as a whole.”

    Mahathir pointed out that technology has been abused to undermine governments. “ We are seeing advances in technology, advances which bring great benefits but which are also open to abuses, negating much of the benefits. Privacy is being invaded. Secrets, including sensitive military secrets are being leaked in the name of freedom of information.* The whistle-blowers are hailed as heroes.* Nothing is sacred any more.”

    Mahathir added, “When you create a problem by revealing people's official secrets, something has to be done about it.”

    Demoracy and poverty

    Mahathir noted that democracy was supposed to be the answer to poverty under authoritarian regimes, yet in many cases, it failed to bring progress.

    “Democracy works only when the people understand the limitations of democracy. When people think only of the freedoms of democracy and know nothing of the implied responsibilities, democracy will not bring the goodness that it promises. Instead it will result only in instability and instability will not permit development to take place and the people to enjoy the benefits of freedom and the rights that democracy promises. No sooner is a Government elected when the losers would hold demonstrations and general strikes accusing the Government of malpractices.“

    Mahathir argued that people cannot govern themselves on their own, since not everyone will be competent to do so. “Why has democracy not delivered the good life we expected of it? Simply put, it is impossible for the people to rule themselves. There are too many of them and they cannot agree on anything. Government of the people, by the people and for the people would result in a stalemate, in no Government at all, in anarchy.”

    Mahathir used this to justify his country’s brand of democracy. “So what do we do? Do we accept the failures of democracy or de we make some adjustments and sacrifice some of the liberalism of democracy so we may extract something from the system? I will admit freely that Malaysia is not a liberal democracy. We see democracy principally as providing an “easy way” to change Governments. No revolution, no civil wars, no Arab spring. Just vote and the Government will be brought down or re-elected according to the wishes of the people.”

    Corruption and power

    Mahathir pointed out that those who overstay in power do so to protect themselves from being haunted by their past in government.

    “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a truism. But if one is frequently reminded that one day one will lose power and when that happens, others will hound you and make life miserable for you, that might help you overcome temptations. The more corrupt they are, the more they would want to hold the position for life.* They fear giving up power, because they know the people would rise and seek to punish them, even killing them.”

    In the 2nd half of his speech, Mahathir shared lessons from his own term as Malaysia’s leader. One lesson is the need to minimize conflicts among its different races. ”This sharing and recognition of each others’ position reduced much of the tendency to friction between the races and ensured relative political stability - a necessity for economic development of the country.* Unfortunately, it makes national unity practically impossible.”

    Need for industrialization, education

    Mahathir also stressed the importance of industrializing.” Industrialisation became necessary because agriculture could not create enough jobs for the growing population. Jobless people threaten the stability of the country and undermine the very effort to create the jobs that they need.”

    Mahathir said government must welcome more foreign direct investments, and help businesses. ”At a time when newly-independent countries were nationalising foreign-owned industries and businesses, we decided to invite foreigners, including the former colonial masters to come back and invest in industries in Malaysia.”

    “Then we thought that Government must help businesses to succeed. The Japanese were condemned for doing this. But we saw no reason why Government should not help business to make profits. Twenty-eight per cent of the profits by businesses belong to the Government anyway through the corporate tax they had to pay. Basically the Government was working for its 28% of the profit. We were not just helping the businessmen to make profits.”

    Mahathir said investments in education were made in this regard. “To increase the revenue of the people Government spent almost 25% of the national budget on education and training. Thus foreign as well as local investors were assured of a supply of educated and well trained staff.”

    Successful ASEAN

    Towards the end of his speech, Mahathir lauded the Association of SouthEast Asian nations for its help to its member-nations.

    ”I believe that ASEAN is the most successful of the groupings of developing countries, But in these troubled times, we need to come closer together, to cooperate more productively and to make use of our half a billion people as a market in order to gain more offsets for enlarging and diversifying our industries.* We also need to cooperate with the three dynamic Northeast Asian countries.*

    " Malaysia had proposed an East Asian Economic Community to maximise the strength of our countries.* Things are finally moving in that direction.”

    Mahathir added, “Really, the countries of Southeast Asia have great potentials for growth, prosperity and empowerment. All we need is people and leaders who love their country and people more than they love themselves.”

    Doctors and lawyers

    Mahathir also candidly answered questions from a panel of recators and the media after his speech.

    Mahathir, a doctor by profession, was asked who between doctors and lawyers made better leaders. His reply: “Doctors do have certain advantage, we are methodical in the way we approach problems to cure a person … we look at the history doing physical exam and doing lab test before we conclude. He may be suffering from 3 different diseases and see which to experiment first. If the patient survives, good, If he dies, sorry. Lawyers argue too much.”

    Nearly a decade after leaving office, Mahathir said he is far from retiring. “I'm still busy, I'm still much involved with the poltiics of the country.”

    Asked about the one lesson he wants the next set of leaders to learn, Mahathir said, “If you want to be a leader, be a leader. If you want to think about yourself, there's no place for your own personal needs as a leader.”
    *
    www.Gameface.ph: Changing The Face of The Game!

  2. #2

    Marcos and martial law

    By Randy David

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    1:00 am | Thursday, September 13th, 2012

    Before it became wholly associated with the suicide terrorist attacks against the United States, Sept. 11 used to be remembered as the day Salvador Allende, Chile’s first elected Marxist president, was killed in the course of the military coup that installed the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. That tragic event started the reversal of democracy throughout Latin America.

    By coincidence, Ferdinand Marcos was also born on that day. One wonders what could have crossed Marcos’ mind as he celebrated his 56th birthday, his first as dictator of his country, on that fateful day in 1973 when the socialist alternative was violently snuffed out in Latin America. Could it have confirmed his belief that dictatorship was the only way forward for developing nations?

    Marcos imposed martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, purportedly to preempt a conspiracy between the communists and the oligarchic elite. He appealed to the middle and lower classes of Philippine society to help him build a “New Society” that would extirpate the virus of communism and free the country from the grip of the feudal elite. He called his project a “revolution from the center.”

    It is easy to think the worst of any man if this frees us of any responsibility or guilt for what happened. Thus, we are not surprised that some of Marcos’ most ardent acolytes during martial law are today among his most vocal critics. But, to explain the rise of the Marcos dictatorship solely in terms of the overweening ambition and insatiable greed of one person is to strain the imagination.

    The fact is, it was impossible for Marcos to put the entire country under martial rule without the armed forces who were willing to act as its executioners, without a public that was at least sympathetic to the plan, and without a US government that was willing to wink at the entire thing because it saw in Marcos a great ally and friend who would protect American interests. In short, Marcos could not have been the sole author of martial law.

    His accomplices were not all generals or cronies. Some were otherwise thoughtful people—writers and academics, intellectuals and technocrats—who were dazzled by the prospect of being able to put their ideas in the hands of a president who had the will to realize them. They had no problem rationalizing their involvement with the dictatorship. Like many ordinary Filipinos at that time, they thought that what the country sorely lacked was a willful political leader that knew exactly what to do with power.

    It is important to recognize this because the sooner we stop thinking of martial law as the deed of one man, the easier it may be for us to prevent its recurrence. Marcos’ evil genius lay in the fact that he knew what the Filipino people could accept, and what divided them against one another. He knew what America’s strategic goals were, and what it could abide as a global power. He knew what was happening in the rest of the world, particularly in the emerging economies.

    He saw, for example, how the domestic capitalist classes in many Third World countries ended up being the junior partners of foreign capital because they were simply not big enough to compete. Thus, he was convinced that the state must nurture the local bourgeoisie and steer the economy in such a way as to give them the clout they needed to become pillars for sustained economic growth.

    Marcos was particularly impressed by the progress attained by South Korea under the stern rule of Park Chung-hee. He wanted Park’s Asian model replicated in the Philippine setting. This was the same plan that Lee Kuan Yew had put in place in Singapore to compensate for that country’s smallness in size and lack of natural resources. On a much bigger scale, this was also the path that Deng Xiaoping chose for China from 1978 onward.

    This model privileged the concept of social cohesion and stability over individual rights. Wherever it was adopted, it entailed a great sacrifice in human rights and political liberties, leaving in its wake the killing, torture, and forced disappearance of thousands of dissenters in the hands of death squads.

    By the time Marcos declared martial law, Philippine society was besieged by political instability, endless investigations in Congress, a rise in criminality, restiveness in Mindanao, and a communist movement that was attracting the youth into its ranks. Marcos’ own people staged bombings in the city in order to simulate a general breakdown in public order. By the middle of 1972, everything appeared to confirm what was on everybody’s mind—that the existing political system had reached its limits.

    Marcos failed for many reasons. Fluctuations in the world economy were not congenial to the Marcos experiment. But perhaps, more important, the sense of national purpose that guided the Korean and Singaporean transformation proved to be weak in our case. The Marcos cronies became the corrupted version of the chaebols that spearheaded Korean industrialization. The frugality, simplicity, and austere ways that Park and Lee personified were sadly missing in our own leaders. Instead, “Imeldific” excess and pomp became the principal markers of the New Society.

    It took almost 14 years for the Filipino people to dislodge the Marcoses from power. The patriarch is dead but members of his family are back in power. No one has been jailed for crimes committed in the name of martial law. The bulk of the money stolen from the Filipino people has not been recovered. This is not just a question of failed memory; this is the result of a flawed social system that remains vulnerable to the temptations of authoritarianism.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  3. #3

    Snippets

    By Peter Wallace

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:57 am | Thursday, September 13th, 2012

    Today, I’m going to list a few snippets that have been sitting around on my desk in something of a cleanup that might amuse you.

    Why are senators referred to as “the gentleman (or lady) from XXX” when they are elected nationally to represent the public in its entirety, and not just one locale? And why are they called “Honorable”?

    A member of the House is a representative of the people—it’s why he/she is called “the representative from YYY.” So why don’t they vote to uphold the people’s wishes? Isn’t this their mandate? Some 70 percent of the people they represent are in favor of the Reproductive Health bill, yet for 13 years now some of the “representatives of the people” have defied the people’s wishes. Do they know better than the people? Didn’t the people vote for them because they believed they’d get them what they want?

    During then Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment, I said I was horrified to see the Supreme Court looking like a political campaign headquarters. And I was disgusted at the actions of the high court’s employees actively supporting the then chief justice. They are supposed to be COMPLETELY NEUTRAL. If they take sides for someone on trial because they believe in him, how can we, in the future, be assured that they won’t take sides in other cases and maneuver to manipulate the case to the judgment they want? There can be no personal loyalties in a court of law. They have no right to hold a position where impartiality, neutrality, and an apolitical stand are essential if justice is to be administered fairly. They should work for politicians who’ll be running in 2013. They’d be ideal for the job.

    As to the justices themselves, I have embraced this society (after 37 years, how can I not), but I grew up in a different society. And in that society, it is unthinkable to accept an appointment by an outgoing leader in an obvious political move. NO gentleman will accept it. That alone made Mr. Corona unfit to hold the post that requires the highest standards of morality. In Australia, the Speaker of the House of Representatives stepped down over allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of taxi payment vouchers. Here you can get away with plunder.

    You can’t shoot someone if you don’t have a gun. The President may wish to set the example by giving up his fascination with guns and shift to the crossbow. The modern ones are marvels of technology and ingenuity, and really test your marksmanship skills. You can’t carry one on the back of a motorcycle. In the United States, 30 people per million are killed every year by guns. In Australia, where gun ownership regulations are highly restrictive, the number is two. The correlation is obvious.

    It’s time people threw out the power-hungry madmen who dictate on a nation, as is happening in many places today. These dictators should learn from what has happened to every other dictator in history: They eventually die. Often violently. It’s time to live together, peacefully. I’m all for an international SWAT team that, upon a UN vote, assassinates murderous dictators. They can start with Bashar Assad. One man should not be allowed to slaughter thousands. If there’s an occasional mistake, it’s only one man. Human life is more precious than national integrity.

    When my wife and I travel, our bags are invariably overweight and generally (Philippine Airlines has always made a kind exception) we have to pay a premium. That’s OK. The heavier the plane, the more the fuel that is used—or at least that’s the argument they put forward—so the more it costs to fly it. I agree, it’s very fair. BUT my wife weighs 50 kg, I weigh 70, and the person in the seat next to us often weighs that in total. Why should he get free flying for his obesity? When you take small propeller-driven planes, they weigh the passenger and luggage because the weight when just getting off the ground must be controlled. Well, I want it that way in the big, bad commercial world. Set a fair weight value for passenger AND luggage. If you’re within that limit, no charge. If you’re not, regardless of whether the avoirdupois is you or your bags, you pay more. It’s only fair. Can I get support for this eminently sensible and fair idea? I think pretty much all Filipinos, given their build, will support fairness in air fares.

    Antimining lobbyists should walk naked in the world. It is duplicitous to use products you want banned. Those opposed to the RH bill should adopt a poor family of 12, and the Church should educate them for free. All of them, not just a chosen few. Illegal loggers should be required to build their houses on the slopes they’ve denuded.

    Why do we change the international name of a typhoon to a local name when it enters Philippine space? Are we so proud of typhoons that we want to adopt them? Typhoons know no borders. Why confuse the world for no good reason?

    Why do people write figures in words and in numbers, thus: “sixteen (16)”? What’s wrong with “16”? And why “one” to “nine,” but “10” to infinity? Is there a logic to that I miss?

    If lawyers think you need both to ensure no misinterpretation, then may I suggest they add English to the ancient, unused Latin language they continue to introduce into their briefs (the paper documents, not the cotton two-legged things)? Why not drop Latin altogether? Everyone else has.

    Can someone explain to me why bingo is legal, lotto is legal, casinos are legal, but jueteng isn’t? Wouldn’t all the crime and scandals of jueteng disappear if it were legal? Removing Prohibition in the United States shows the way. Or are local officials making so much money from “protecting” it?
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  4. #4

    To young Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship

    By Benjamin Pimentel

    3:04 pm | Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

    SAN FRANCISCO — You’ve been hearing a lot about the date – September 21, 1972 — and the event — the day martial law was imposed on our country, the day the Marcos dictatorship was born.

    That was 40 years ago.

    This may not mean much to you who grew up after the nightmare finally ended, after Filipinos rallied to oust one of the most despicable leaders in world history.

    You’ve probably heard about him. If you travel north, you might even see his corpse in a glass case. You might also see remnants of a giant bust carved on the side of a mountain.

    You know how shameless Filipino politicians show off by putting up big posters with their photos in public places? Well, try to imagine living under a leader who actually thought that he was so great he should have his face carved on a gigantic rock for all to see.

    Think about it.

    Someone blew up that bust many years ago — which is really a shame. It was hideous, but still, it could have served as a reminder of what we went through. What your parents and grandparents went through under Ferdinand Marcos.

    You probably heard about the debates on whether he should be buried with our other heroes at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. You probably heard his son, now a senator, defending his record, claiming that had Marcos not been overthrown, the country would have turned into another Singapore.

    It’s a bizarre claim. And I never get tired of pointing this out: Bongbong is essentially arguing that the Philippines would have become another Singapore, known as one of the least corrupt nations in the world, under a president considered one of the most corrupt leaders in history. (Google “most corrupt leaders” and you’ll understand why Bongbong is bonkers.)

    You’ve probably also heard the dictator’s supporters remember those years as the good ‘ol days. The country was more peaceful, and people were happier, they’d say.

    You know what, in some ways, they were right.

    I was eight years old when martial law was declared, and I remember being so happy that day. Classes were suspended, and there was nothing to watch on TV but cartoons.

    Our neighbors and even my parents were glad to see an end to the student demonstrations. People were lining up to ride a jeepney. To some, it certainly looked like an entirely different country.

    And it was.

    But these were not the changes that most people, especially the middle class, thought were actually taking place.

    For in those early months and years, middle class and upper class families welcomed Marcos’s version of “peace and order,” the orderly queues and the empty streets where activists once voiced their opposition to corruption and injustice. But behind the scenes, unknown to many, the stealing, the torture, the killing had begun.

    It had grown quiet all of sudden, because those who had the guts to speak out had been silenced. Imprisoned. Tortured. Co-opted. Murdered.

    Actually, back then, the term Marcos’s goons used was “salvage.” Yes, salvage, as in “to save” or “to rescue.” For that was how Marcos and his allies imposed “peace and order.” They saved the regime’s critics and opponents – by killing them.

    Later on, even the phrase “peace and order” morphed into a sick joke. My father enjoyed telling it.

    “Peace and order? Ah, that actually means, ‘I want a piece of this. I want a piece of that. And that’s an order.’”

    Remember that the next time you hear of Imelda’s jewels or shoes, of news about some mansion or bank account linked to the Marcoses.

    Then there’s the argument that goes like this: ‘What was the point of getting rid of Marcos? Look at how there’s still so much corruption and injustice in Philippine society after all these years.’

    Good point.

    But one thing you need to remember, and perhaps we need to remind ourselves about this too, those of us who joined the uprising to get rid of Marcos — We didn’t march thinking we would suddenly live in paradise. We didn’t face riot police and the security forces thinking that the country’s problems– the corruption, the poverty, the abuse of power — would suddenly disappear.

    We joined the fight to get rid of a tyrant. And guess what – we won. And you won.

    I know it’s hard to believe, especially given all the news of corruption and abuse and of people dying and disappearing.

    But trust me: it was much, much worse back then. It was a much scarier, more violent time, when even the mildest criticism of government, of Marcos, of Imelda, could land you in jail or even get you killed.

    Look at it this way. Some of you don’t like the current president. And you probably even joined the fad of Noynoying, making fun of the guy, calling him all sorts of names. You know what would have happened to you if you had tried a stunt like that during the Marcos years?

    Marcos’s allies want you to forget that. They want you to see the long struggle against dictatorship, and the uprising that finally brought it down as wasted effort.

    Which is really an absurd view if you think about it. It’s like telling our heroes and those who waged past struggles in our history that everything that happened, everything they did was a waste.

    It’s like telling Jose Rizal, “You know those novels and essays and poems you wrote, including that last one you composed shortly before you were shot to death by the Spaniards, all that was a waste of time. For look at how messed up the country is right now.”

    It’s like telling my own father, “Papa, joining the guerrillas was a stupid idea, given how the country whose freedom you defended against the Japanese has turned out.”

    Fighting Marcos was worth it. For we took on a bully and we won.

    This is not to downplay or dismiss the problems the country faces today.

    And you should speak out about them. You should complain and protest. You should demand that things should be better, and you should go out there to try to make them better. It is perfectly all right for you to march, to picket and even to go Noynoying.

    Just don’t believe those who say it was much better before.

    You’ll hear it from Marcos’s old allies.

    You’ll hear it from those who simply don’t like democracy, who find it inconvenient because it keeps them from acquiring more wealth and more power.

    You’ll hear from those who just can’t stand ideas they don’t agree with, who arrogantly think they have all the answers and must therefore have all the power.

    They’ll present themselves as the nation’s saviors based on twisted claims. Some would point to their military discipline and experience. Others would claim to have the correct political line base on historical truths. Some would claim to have god on their side.

    Don’t trust the liars and the bullies. Democracy can be messy and chaotic. But the alternatives are even messier. They create a false, deceptive sense of “peace and order.”

    A delusion.

    Like the cartoon shows I watched the day Marcos’s dictatorship began its reign of destruction.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  5. #5

    Defying Marcos, Filipino Americans emerged as a force against tyranny

    By Benjamin Pimentel

    INQUIRER.net

    1:11 pm | Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

    SAN FRANCISCO – The impact of martial law was felt beyond the Philippines. It was felt even here in America.

    For in the United States, the rise of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos also marked the emergence of Filipino Americans as a force against tyranny.

    Shortly after the regime unleashed its reign of terror on Sept. 21, 1972, a US-based movement began gearing up for the long fight.

    It was led by expats and by the American-born children of Filipino immigrants, many of them farm workers, known as the “manongs.” It was a time when young people in the US and throughout the world were speaking out against injustice of all forms.

    Students were protesting the Vietnam War. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing. Young Americans of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino descent were demanding more rights on campuses and in society at large.

    In the wake of these battles, young FilAms were drawn to disturbing events in their parents’ homeland.

    Melinda Paras, an anti-Vietnam War protester from Wisconsin, traveled to the Philippines in the late ‘60s to find out more about her father’s native country. When martial law was declared, she quickly joined the resistance.

    She was later captured in Manila and detained. As the granddaughter of a former Philippine supreme court chief justice, and a US citizen, she was spared the harsh forms of torture the military used against dissidents jailed under martial law.

    “If I had been arrested in Zambales, I’m not sure I would have lived,” she told me in a 2009 interview. “Back then, if you are arrested in the province, they don’t care who you are related to, and they don’t care if you’re an American.”

    Paras was eventually deported. Back in the US, she rejoined the movement against the dictatorship.

    By then, it was growing.

    Within the movement’s ranks were young FilAms many of whom could not speak Tagalog or other Philippine languages, who had never visited the country, but who became full-time activists committed to ending the Marcos tyranny.

    Expatriates also became part of the movement. Edwin Batongbacal moved to the US in 1980 and became a member of the Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino, or KDP, one of the best known opposition groups, a broad network of activists in major US cities from San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, to New York and Washington D.C.

    “Martial Law was significant because it was the first time the community united around a higher aspiration for the country,” Edwin recalled recently.

    One of the democracy movement’s main goals was to make the US government stop sending military aid to a regime that was quickly becoming notorious for brutality and gross violations of human rights.

    American support for Marcos was underscored in 1981 when then Vice President George H.W. Bush visited Manila and praised Marcos’s “adherence to democratic principles.” The following year, President Ronald Reagan welcomed Marcos during the dictator’s US state visit, declaring at a White House ceremony, “Yours Mr. President is a respected voice for reason and moderation.”

    Such endorsement apparently made Marcos and his allies feel invincible, believing that they could get away with anything.

    One June 1, 1981, assassins gunned down labor leaders and anti-Marcos activists Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes in Seattle.

    (After the dictatorship’s downfall, a US federal court found the Marcoses liable for the murders. In her decision, US District Judge Barbara Rothstein wrote, as quoted in the Seattle Times: “The court concludes that the plaintiffs have provided clear, cogent and convincing evidence that the Marcoses created and controlled an intelligence operation which plotted the murders of Domingo and Viernes.”)

    Despite the acts of intimidation and the violence, the FilAms kept on fighting.

    In 1986, when the dictatorship was finally defeated, FilAms throughout the US joined the celebration. In fact, in San Francisco, activists threw an impromptu party on Union Square, playing a popular Kool and the Gang tune. The song was called “Celebration.” They played it over and over again.

    On Friday, the 40th anniversary of Martial Law, Filipino Americans will gather again in San Francisco, to remember the Marcos years. The two-day event called “Make Your Own Revolution” and sponsored by Kularts, will feature dances, poetry and dramatic readings to recall the Filipino “people’s strength in resistance to Martial Law.”

    Alleluia Panis, one of the event’s organizers, says the goal is to “remember the strength, the values” that helped Filipinos “come out of the darkness of martial law.”

    Those who did not survive the darkness have also been honored in the US and the Philippines.

    Last year, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes became the first Filipino Americans to have their names included on the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani’s “Wall of Remembrance” honoring those who fought the regime.

    Other former activists of the Filipino American movement have moved on to other meaningful roles.

    Many formed and led groups for civil rights and immigration rights. Melinda Paras went on to lead the influential National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

    In Seattle, KDP veteran Velma Veloria was elected to Washington State legislature where she served for 12 years.

    In San Francisco, former activist Bill Tamayo is now a leading attorney of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    Many of those who were part of that struggle remember those years a time of collective courage in the Filipino American community.

    “Suddenly, apathy and sense of powerlessness were lifted, and Filipinos actively opposed the regime,” Edwin Batongbacal told me.

    “There was all this positive energy, and Filipinos were articulating their higher aspirations for their homeland. … It was moving to see Filipinos desiring a better Philippines rid of the dictator.”

    (For more information on the Kularts event, check out the “Making Your Own Revolution” Web site.)

  6. #6

    The truth shall keep you free

    By Conrado de Quiros

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    10:57 pm | Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

    (I made these remarks last Friday at the launch of “Not On Our Watch,” a book about the experiences of members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines during martial law. I wrote the introduction to the book. Something to reflect on the 40th anniversary of martial law by. That falls on Sept. 21.)

    Can the Marcoses “Ilocanize” history?

    That’s a good question to ask on the eve of the 40th anniversary of martial law.

    I say “Ilocanize” because Ilocos Norte in particular has been an entire republic unto itself history-wise. It has its own version of the past that differs from the rest of the nation’s. One that says Ferdinand Marcos was the best thing to have happened to this country.

    I got some insight into this when a cameraman from a TV station told me once that bilib ka rin kay Marcos, he was the only president who could deliver a Sona without script or teleprompter, everything came from memory. I was astonished and asked him where he got that idea. He said, from school in Ilocos Norte. Marcos was brilliant, he had a photographic memory. But doesn’t everyone know that? he asked me in turn, astonished.

    Truly a separate republic, if only of the mind.

    Can the Marcoses do the same thing to the rest of the country? Can they completely rewrite history?

    I say “completely” because they’ve already done so in part. The attempt to bury Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani testifies to it. The entries in YouTube, portraying Marcos if not as a benign ruler at least as a visionary one, testify to it. It’s not that these things have sold well, it’s that they can now be pitched without fear of stoking public outrage.

    And of course that Imelda is a representative, Imee is a governor, and Bongbong is a senator testifies to it.

    Two things they can bank on for a revision of history.

    The first is time.

    For us in particular, yesterday is a century ago, 40 years are a previous lifetime. The gap alone between Edsa and today, which is 26 years, is the gap between 1945 and 1971. That is the gap between the so-called “Liberation” and the bombing of Plaza Miranda, between Glenn Miller and Led Zeppelin, between the veterans of World War II and the activists. In our case, that is the gap between national liberation and globalization, “Xerox journalism” and Facebook, fighting against imperialism or communism and fighting to save the planet from global warming.

    That is not a gap, that is a chasm.

    If that’s so with Edsa, it’s worse with martial law. If you were four or five years old in 1986, you’d have a bare recollection of martial law. That means we now have a whole generation of Filipinos, 30 and below, who either have no direct experience of martial law or do not have a good impression of it. I’ve heard young people ask, “Were things really that bad during martial law?” It reminds me of what we used to ask, “Were things really that bad during the Japanese times?” And we didn’t have sushi then.

    The second is our lack of capacity for collective remembering.

    Other countries have a wealth of history books, art and literature, and museums to preserve the past. And they have a popular culture where the heroes of the past continue to live, even if in grotesque forms like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” That is how they make up for a lack of a direct experience of the past. We do not have that.

    Our capacity to forget, and not just our utang in the sari-sari store, is legendary. I’ve always said we are the one country in the world that has been lobotomized. We live in a perpetual present, having no past, and therefore having no future.

    There are many theories for this, but I’ll leave them for another day. Suffice it to say here that that makes fallow ground for revisionism.

    To say that the viciousness of a rule alone guarantees that it will never be able to reinvent itself is to delude ourselves. It is to forget history, thereby repeating it.

    American rule was vicious, at least when it began. You can’t have anything more vicious than an occupation born of deceit and betrayal, which Admiral George Dewey committed. You can’t have anything more vicious than the turning of Samar into a howling wilderness. You can’t have anything more vicious than a pacification campaign that proposed to civilize the monkeys with a Krag, a campaign that obliterated the leaders of the Katipunan whose only crime was to fight for their country.

    Not unlike martial law. Yet today, American rule is widely regarded as the best thing to have happened to us.

    Happily, history shows us another lesson. Which is that where there is another storyline, or narrative, these propositions can be crowded out. Fallow grounds do not naturally assure that there will be a harvest of revisionism. They can always only assure that more robust seeds will kill them.

    The Japanese Occupation shows so. It was of course too short—three years—for its proposition of the Asian countries coming together to resist Western imperialism to take root in by then very pro-American Filipino minds. But even then, the Americans made sure after the War to obliterate it by the narrative, or myth, of the “Liberation.”

    That myth said the Americans never abandoned the Philippines. Douglas MacArthur vowed, “I shall return,” and did. Instead of the Japanese coming to liberate us from our Western yoke, the story became that the Americans came back to liberate us from our fascist yoke. Into “I shall return” went images of Bataan and Corregidor, of Filipinos and Americans fighting side by side, sharing the same past and the same future. How powerful that story was we see in how we continue to see the end of Japanese rule as the “Liberation.” How powerful it was we see in the so-called “special relations” it spawned, which has sealed our fate, or doom, in the postwar world.

    The same is true of martial law.

    To be concluded

  7. #7

    Prelude to martial law

    By Ambeth R. Ocampo

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    10:52 pm | Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

    Four decades have passed since the official declaration of martial law by Ferdinand Marcos. For good feng shui Marcos tried to time significant things on dates that had his lucky number “7” or its multiples. Thus, Proclamation 1081, the declaration of martial law, was signed and dated Sept. 21, 1972, but its actual implementation took place two days later, on Sept. 23.

    Now is a time to look back on those dark days, and we are fortunate that Marcos actually kept a diary, portions of which have been posted on “The Philippine Diary Project” (philippinediaryproject.wordpress.com) that contains first-person accounts of significant events in Philippine history.

    On Sunday, Sept. 17, 1972, Marcos spent the night in the old Goldenberg mansion down the street from Malacañang. The mansion had been restored by Leandro V. Locsin, a future National Artist, and was designated as “Ang Maharlika” or the State Guest House. Marcos referred to this place as “The Big Antique” and it was here, at 10 p.m., that he wrote this diary entry:

    “We escaped the loneliness of the palace for this old Antillan house now known as Ang Maharlika, the State Guest House several blocks from the palace. It has been restored beautifully by Imelda and is a symbol of Philippine culture in the last century. Almost all our antique valuables have been transferred here.

    “The departure of our children has made the palace a ghostly unbearable place. I took a long nap (4:30-7:30 pm) in the room of Bongbong which has the worst bed [illegible] and the lumpiest mattress. And after an early simple dinner of sardines and pancit, I was able to browse in the library where to my delight I discovered the books I have been wanting to read for some time including: Fitzimmons, The Kennedy Doctrine, Sorensen’s The Kennedy Legacy, The Dirty Wars edited by Donald Johnson (some of the principles and lessons are outmoded), Days of Fire by Samuel Katz (The Secret History of the Irguny Zrai Sanmi and The Making of Israel), Chou-enlai by Kai-Yu, Room 39 by Donald Macfaddan (The role of the British Intelligence in WWII), the History of the World in the 20th Century by Watt, Spencer and Brown.

    “I have invited the Liberal Party leaders (at least ten of their hierarchy) to come to the palace on Sept. 19th to be informed of what we have on the negotiations and agreements between the Maoists and the Liberals. The Liberal head, Sen. G[erardo] Roxas, issued a demand for us to point out the Liberal negotiating with the Communists, knowing full well that I refer to Sen. Aquino, his opponent for leadership in the party and wanting to disqualify Aquino by his own action. But the Liberals should not get out that easily. For some of the other leaders have been dealing with the Communists—Mitra, Yap, Felipe, Dy, Pendatun, Lucman, etc.

    “Antonio Zumel, news editor of the Bulletin had an explanation of his Trade Asia activities in today’s papers. He adopts an aggressive stance of hurt innocence!

    “I received the report on the 7,400 case of dynamite apprehended in the del Pan bridge by the OOSAC under Maj. Cruz, son of Maj. Gen. Pelagio Cruz, the ASAC chief. I ordered the dynamite impounded notwithstanding the claim of [illegible] for it.

    “The Air Manila plane was apparently bombed at 4:40 am yesterday by a grenade in a valise with incendiary bombs over Romblon, prepared to ditch because of the right engine being out of commission from the grenade blast but was able to limp up to Roxas City where it landed at about 5:00 am in the dark with nothing but its landing lights to guide it. Capt. Samonte, the captain of the plane did a good job and was lucky.

    “I have checked on the plans of the delegations I am sending to the IMF, the UN and other international conferences.”

    Then we have something more significant than a list of books Marcos wanted to read and what he had for dinner. This diary entry for Sept. 18, 1972, was written after lunch:

    “We finalized the plans for the proclamation of martial law at 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm with the SND, the Chief of Staff, major service commanders, J-2, Gen. Paz, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Diaz and Metrocom commander, Col. Montoya, with Gen. Ver in attendance. They all agreed the earlier we do it the better because the media is waging a propaganda campaign that distorts and twists the facts. So after the bombing of the Concon, we agreed on the 21st without any postponement.

    “We finalized the target personalities, the assignments, and the procedures.”

    On Sept. 19, 1972, Marcos wrote:

    “Released the report of Sec. Ponce Enrile of Sept. 8, 1972 where he reported that Sen. Aquino had met with Jose Maria Sison of the Communist Party and had talked about a link-up of the Liberal Party and the Communist Party. So since I invited Sen. Pres. Puyat, Speaker Villareal I explained to the media which was covering us that when I invited the leaders of the Liberal Party I had wanted a private conference where we could, as Filipinos and for the welfare of our people, agree that neither party (Nacionalista or Liberal) would ‘link-up’ with the Communist Party but their refusal to attend indicated that the Liberals were in on the deal to ‘link-up’ with the Communists through Sen. Aquino.”

    Diaries are self-serving and often published after the fact to explain how history was made. The diaries of Ferdinand E. Marcos form a primary source for the historian.

  8. #8

    Institutions fail to teach lessons of martial law

    By Maila Ager

    INQUIRER.net

    1:06 am | Friday, September 21st, 2012

    MANILA, Philippines—When people say that life was better during martial law than today and that Marcos was right in imposing authoritarian rule, it suggests that something is shockingly wrong with the country’s key institutions, political analysts told INQUIRER.net.

    They say the academe, media and the government have all failed to educate the public well about the evils of military dictatorship.

    INQUIRER.net interviewed two respected political analysts and academicians Ramon Casiple and Clarita Carlos to understand the results of the survey conducted among students, street vendors and workers two weeks before the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the martial law declaration.

    Why do you think the people today, especially students, have little or no knowledge of martial law?

    Ramon Casiple: Unang-una, talagang ipinanganak sila after martial law. That’s a given. Pero yung malaki ritong kasalanan, yung pagtuturo sa ating formal education system kaugnay ng martial law period. Nakabase ito sa mga libro na either napaka bland nung handling ng panahon…Yung nakikita mo lang usually sa description nila, yung mga bagong infrastructures na itinayo, yung CCP. Hindi yung social impact ng martial law.

    (First and foremost, they were born after martial law. That’s a given. But the big mistake here is the teaching in our formal education system about martial law.

    The text books are bland. What you can usually see is the description of new infrastructures built during that time, like the Cultural Center of the Philippines not the social impact of martial law.)

    Before martial law kasi or before Marcos in 1965, isa tayo sa mga better off economies sa buong Asia. By the time nag-end ang martial law, nasa bottom na tayo. Ang tagal mag-recover, in fact nagrere-rekober pa rin tayo hanggang ngayon. So yung mga ganun, hindi mo makikita kasi intangible yun e. Ang nakikita ng mga bata ngayon, mas mahirap ang buhay, mas magulo.

    (Before martial law or before Marcos in 1965, we were one of the better off economies in the entire Asia. By the time martial law ended, we hit the bottom. It took us years to recover. In fact, we’re still recovering until now. You don’t see those things like that because they are intangible. What the young people see now is the hardship – that we are more chaotic now.)

    May similar na kakulangan ang media kasi very strong ang impact ng media sa ating kabataan. Ni hindi nila dini-discuss ang martial law, only if there’s a celebration halimbawa, anniversary ng people power. But then wala naman in depth discussion.

    (The media has its shortcomings, too. They have a very strong impact on the youth, but news organizations did not fully discuss martial law, only a token mention if there’s a celebration like people power anniversary. But then, there is no in-depth discussion.)

    Clarita Carlos: Not surprising [people have little or no knowledge of martial law because] that’s a whole new generation after martial law. If you ask me about Japanese occupation, of course I will not have memory of something which I did not experience…And that’s 40 years ago.

    But you know, in Philippine history, in Philippine government, depende sa teacher kung pahapyaw lang nyang iti-treat yun e…

    (It depends on the teacher if he or she would just treat the topic in passing).

    There’s a variety of exposure to this particular topic.

    Should there be a need to remember martial law each year?

    Carlos: But why it is important that one should remember this part of history? What about the other part of our history, equally important if not more important? In fact that you’re zeroing in on that particular part of our history, already tells you something that created a selection.

    Selective yung memory mo kung ano yung tatanungin mo sa mga bata. Bakit hindi mo tatanungin yung Japanese occupation (You have a selective memory of what you will ask to kids. Why not also ask about the Japanese occupation?)

    It also happened long before their time. Why don’t you ask about the Vietnam War, which also happens long before their time? Why don’t you ask the rice crises, the oil prices, equally important, di ba?

    Casiple: Hindi remembrance ang usapin dito. Ang usapin din yung ma-internalize noong mga tao yung lessons ng martial law at hindi mo makukuha sa selebrasyon lamang ’yan. Dapat ’andun 'yung partisipasyon ng tao sa actual democracy para makita nila yung actual benefits.

    (The issue here is not about the commemoration. The issue here is that the people should internalize the lessons of martial law and you can’t just get it through a simple celebration. The people should participate in actual democracy to be able to see and experience the actual benefits of it.)

    Why do some people say they prefer the martial law period than the present?

    Casiple: Well unang-una, ang tingin ko malaking usapin dyan ang poverty. Kasi nandun yung expectation na right after martial law, bubuti na ang buhay ng mga tao. Of course, alam natin na complex ang poverty. Hindi naman martial law lamang ang pinag-uugatan nito.

    (First and foremost, I think the bigger issue is poverty. Because there is big expectation that after martial law, the people’s lives will get better. Of course, we know that poverty is a complex issue. Martial law is not the only the root of it.)

    Ang malaki talagang na-address, yung question ng demokrasya and to a large extent, 'yung accountability.

    (What was really addressed was the question of democracy and to a large extent, the question of accountability.)

    Sa pagbagsak ni Marcos, hindi automatic na gaganda ang buhay nila. Ang ginawa lang sa tingin ko ng pagbagsak ni Marcos, tinanggal mo yung isang tinik na nagpapahirap sa tao na harapin ang problema sa buhay…Hindi mismo yung ugat ng kahirapan ang na-address.

    (With the downfall of Marcos, there was no guarantee that life will get better. What his downfall did to us, I think, was that the thorn that was causing all our miseries disappeared. But it did not really address the root of poverty.)

    Carlos: Yeah because for me, siguro ’pag tinanong mo rin ako, ako din yung martial law period [is my preference] except yung one instance na nag-intrude sila (military) sa academic freedom namin. Kasi minsan nagtatanim sila ng estudyante tapos merong isang professor dyan ng history na nagsabi ng against Imelda Marcos, e na-preso din sya dahil hindi nya alam may nakatanim pala sa klase nya.

    (If you’d also ask me I also vote for the martial law period except that one instance when they intruded into our academic freedom. Because they sometimes planted students in schools. There was a history professor who said something against Imelda Marcos and soon found himself in jail because he did not know that there was a spy in his class.)

    Bukod dun, siguro all the rest was all right. Yun nga ang mahirap, nag-husga na agad tayo kay Marcos hindi pa natin sinasaliksik bakit nya ginawa yun . E talagang ang gulo-gulo ng bansa natin and only a martial law regime can people be really disciplined.

    Like yung maliliit na bagay, hindi sila nagji-jay walking, maliliit na bagay but bigger things for the discipline of the nation, di ba?

    (That’s the problem, we were quick to judge Marcos without digging deeper why he did it. The country was really in chaos and it was martial law regime that made people practice discipline. Those little things like pedestrians finally using designated crossing lanes; it’s a small thing but bigger things for the discipline of the nation, right?)

    For Carlos, “Marcos really is our best President.”

    “Because it was very peaceful, it was very orderly,” she said, noting it was during under martial that the country’s crime rate made a dramatic drop.

    It was also only during the Marcos administration that bureaucratic reforms, she said, went in full swing.

    In 1965, Carlos said, Marcos started reforms in the bureaucracy but department heads opposed the move.

    “Ten years later, saka n’ya (Marcos) nabalasa yung gobyerno. It really takes a martial law regime to do bureaucratic reform,” she said.

    She said that the Edsa1 revolt in 1986 that ended the 14-year-old dictatorship was triggered only by the collective sentiments of the people in Metro Manila.

    Stressing that the people power is basically a Manila event, Carlos asked: “What about the rest of the country?”

    Carlos, however, acknowledged that people may view martial law differently based on how it affected them or their loved ones.

    For those who suffered during that period –either because their loved ones were killed, jailed or became victims of human rights abuses –they would fight moves to impose martial rule again.

    “Definitely kasi kasama kami dun sa lumaban sa martial law at marami kaming kasamang namatay, na pinahirapan na na-torture (because we were part of those who fought martial law. Many of our companions were killed or tortured),” Casiple said.

    “Alam mo yung epekto sa mamamayan, kaya talagang hindi ka na babalik sa period na yun. Kaya nag-people power (You know the effect to the people that’s why you will never return to that period. That’s why we had people power),” he said.

    Casiple said corruption in the government during the Marcos regime was systematic, the peace and order was in shambles but unreported in the media because the press was censored.

    This was the reason, he said, some people think that the country was more peaceful during martial law than today.

    “Kung may nangyayaring mga krimen at that time ay hindi naman talagang nababalita kasi sinong magbabalita e yung nagbabalita nasa loob ng kulungan? (If there are crimes being committed, they were not really reported because who will report them when the true journalists are in jail?)”
    Last edited by Sam Miguel; 09-21-2012 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Re-read to make sure I got it right that Clarita Carlos said all those idiotic things. Yep, she did.

  9. #9

    Why the DND Should Fire Clarita Carlos

    ^^^ Pseudo-intellectual Clarita Carlos should shut the hell up. Why the DND-AFP Establishment has kept here around all this time truly insults the intellect.

  10. #10

    ‘We were not rebels but simply a family’

    By Susan F. Quimpo

    1:48 am | Friday, September 21st, 2012

    (First of a series)

    (Editor’s Note: The following is a chapter from the book “Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years,” put out by Anvil Publishing Inc. in 2012, written by Susan F. Quimpo, an art therapist who provides counseling for human rights defenders and victims, and by Nathan Gilbert Quimpo.)

    December 1981

    I had to go to school. I clutched thick folders to my chest, wrapping both arms around them. There was no need for my notes that day, but I felt I had to hold on to something, even if it was only folders stuffed with notes for a test I had taken days ago.

    It was the last day of school before the three-week Christmas break. A few exams were scheduled, but these were the exception. Even the faculty were lenient, for they too were excited about the biggest university event of the year, the evening’s Lantern Parade.

    The college theater group I belonged to had a good shot at winning first prize. Ramonlito, the group’s artist, had designed a 6-foot lantern; its thick cardboard frame was to take the shape of a pyramid or in keeping with the season, a Christmas tree. But as always, the group was bent on making a statement, and the well-attended Lantern Parade was the perfect venue.

    The lantern’s black frame would be scored into a template of cutout human forms, and red cellophane would be stretched underneath this cardboard scaffold. It was to be mounted on bamboo poles and lit from within, casting crimson shadows of quivering human forms. From top to bottom, the lantern would be covered with faces of society’s underprivileged as though they were trapped in the pyramid cage. The overall effect was meant to be disturbing— weary creases on a farmer’s face, gaping mouths uttering silent screams, hate clenched in fists, and eyes gawking, questioning the morality of Yuletide celebrations void of Christian charity. Ramonlito’s Christmas tree was to be wrapped in blood and garnished with rebellion.

    It was the season for reconciliation, however temporary. Employers gave gifts of fruit and honey-laced ham to workers they exploited all year. Seasoned protest marchers refrained from converging at Malacañang, the presidential palace, to burn the American flag and Marcos effigies. And members of the communist militia, the New People’s Army, came down from the hills to visit kin while the government troops pretended not to notice. Even at the university, differences were dismissed as moneyed sorority girls joined the most militant activists for the Lantern Parade.

    I should have been excited, wanting to help piece together Ramonlito’s lantern for the competition. But joining the day’s festivities was hardly the reason I left for school that day.

    My sister-in-law Tina had visited the family residence the night before. The fact that she came was a surprise. After two raids, it was safe to assume that our apartment was under military surveillance. It was deemed “too hot,” taboo to anyone even remotely suspected of having links to the communists, forbidden to Tina, so recently released from prison.

    “Visiting too soon?” I chided, partly reminding her of the risk she was taking. Tina did not smile. It was unlike her not to exchange the usual greetings. Her voice was calm but her face was pale with anxiety.

    Death in Nueva Ecija

    There was news that her husband, my brother Jun, had been killed in a barrio called Kalisitan in Nueva Ecija, a province three hours by car north of Manila. That was all that the “courier” said. Even he did not know the details.

    Jun had often alluded to his death, and half-jokingly requested that his wake be held at his alma mater, the University of the Philippines. UP was his refuge, and it had become mine, too. It offered an asylum to those weary of the statutes of martial law. Within its walls was freedom—freedom to organize, discuss and protest, at least for a few hours a day. UP became the breeding ground for activists and soon-to-be revolutionaries. Jun had thrived here; Jun had changed here. And if he were to die, it was only fitting that he come “home” here.

    Early the next day, my sisters made the trip to Nueva Ecija. I stayed in Manila, assigned to go to school and arrange a wake for a brother I wasn’t even sure was dead.

    The Catholic chapel at UP had always been modest. Even at Christmas, the star lanterns and paper cutout trimmings hardly changed its homely appearance. The prayer pamphlets from the morning Mass lay uncollected on empty pews. I made my way to the chapel’s administrative office, not really knowing what to say.

    A wake

    “I’d like to arrange for a wake.”

    “When will you bring the body?” the clerk asked, her voice crisp, almost uncaring. Secretly, I thanked her; I could not have dealt with mock sympathy.

    “I don’t know. You see, I’m not even sure he’s dead.” I took a deep breath and fumbled for an explanation. The clerk’s reaction was one of blunt realism. She turned to a colleague and remarked that it was yet “another student killed by the military.” Only a couple of weeks before, this same chapel had played host to the body of a slain student activist.

    I walked to Palma Hall Annex where I knew my friend would be. It was cool, the skies were clear, and the weather was perfect for the night’s festivities. I stared at the road, pacing slowly, as though counting the spots where asphalt caved in, where gravel and dirt basins caught the monsoon rains. In me, there was no room for reconciliation.

    The night before, the family had tried piecing together a description of Jun—scars, moles, birthmarks, anything that would be distinguishable should his corpse be badly bruised or mutilated. It was hard to remember how he looked, and even harder to remember who he really was.

    Passive observer

    For the last seven years, I saw little of Jun and my other siblings. It would be simple to blame their absence on their avoidance of military raids, imminent arrests and detention. But I knew that my family had drifted apart long before the political persecution began. I was the passive observer who for 10 years witnessed the heated exchanges at the dinner table. My parents could not understand why their children would want to organize and join street demonstrations and risk losing scholarships. What was remotely wrong with acquiring a good college education to ensure for oneself a comfortable future?

    My siblings reasoned that the dictates of the times were different. The protest marches were indicative of a national movement demanding significant change. The hopelessness of the common man’s poverty, the corruption in government, the monopoly of power by the oligarchy, the effects of neocolonialism, and the age-old conflict over land ownership—these problems had now come to a head. And though to some the debates were little more than youthful rhetoric, my siblings spent evenings poring over Marx, Lenin and Mao in search for answers. For them, to ponder self, family and material comfort amid pressing times was an indulgence they couldn’t afford.

    The Palma Hall Annex was bustling with activity. Even the stairwells were teeming with students piecing together oddly shaped lanterns. My friends blocked one of the corridors, littering the floor with sheets of cellophane and craft paper. Our lantern was far from done.

    I managed to pull Ramonlito and a few others away from the crowd. Calmly, I excused myself from helping with the lantern and briefly explained my predicament.

    “My family received word that my brother was killed. I still do not know the circumstances.” I pretended not to notice their baffled faces and retreated for a solitary lunch. I did not want to be consoled.

    “Hello, Lulu? It’s Susan.” Lulu was our devoted housekeeper. Constantly aware that our phone may be bugged, she had the good sense to keep conversations short.

    “No news, Ate Susan. In fact, no one has called.”

    Neighborhood a garrison

    Martial law. No two words had a greater impact on my life. I grew up on a street called Concepción Aguila, a fifteen-minute walk from Malacañang. With the onset of martial law, our neighborhood turned into a garrison. First came the 24-hour shift of palace guards manning wooden road blocks. Soon the roadblocks were replaced with heavy iron barricades densely warped with barbed wire. Then the rickety wooden police outpost at our street corner was torn down, and solid concrete stations, complete with toilets and telephones, were built. During curfew hours, the army trucks would often come and empty their hulls of soldiers. Police cars with squawk boxes joined the party. Residents needed special car passes to enter the area. Soldiers randomly checked pedestrians for IDs certifying they lived in the district. Like prisoners, we needed the military’s permission to enter our own homes.

    Then the military raids began, at first to ensure that the homes around the palace were stripped of civilian-owned firearms. But as years passed, our apartment was singled out, and this time the raiding teams were bent on making arrests.


 
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