Never again

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Monday, February 24, 2014

AFTER 28 years, I thought remembering the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising has gone monotonous and stale. But the fact that those who went through the harrowing Martial Law years are feeling the need now to retell the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship and its ouster only means that the call to heed the lessons of the past hasn’t succeeded.

Worse, it means that the effort by the family of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his loyalists to revise the narrative re: that dark period in Philippine history seems to be gaining a foothold on a chunk of the generations that were born post-Edsa 1.

That can partly be blamed on the failure of governments post-Edsa to ensure that the lessons of the Marcos years—the abuses the dictatorship perpetrated and the struggles waged against it that culminated in Edsa 1—wouldn’t be touched gingerly but rather grasped firmly by educators in both public and private schools.


The main fault, however, was the nature of the uprising itself. It wasn’t like the toppling of the Chiang Kai-shek regime in 1949 in China that ushered in a lasting social transformation in that country. Edsa 1 merely restored the status quo ante, meaning that it reinstituted the pre-Martial Law bourgeois politics that bred Ferdinand Marcos.

Because of the failure of former president Corazon Aquino to effect a thoroughgoing change in the socio-political structure of the country, the dog merely changed collars. The reinstituted old system allowed the traditional politicians displaced by the Marcos clique to return to power and use that power to achieve the same selfish ends as the ex-dictator.

It’s not surprising that after only less than three decades, the Marcoses are once more on the brink of regaining power. Who would have thought that when the dictator and his family were bundled out of the country 28 years ago today, Ferdinand’s son and namesake would become senator and may run for president in 2016?

And Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. just might become our next president considering our recent experience. I am referring to Edsa 2.

Edsa 2 that toppled the inept and corrupt government of then president Joseph Estrada happened only 13 years ago. But consider this: Erap, who was convicted of plunder after he was ousted in 2001, placed second to Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in the 2016 presidential elections. Meaning that had Noynoy not decided to run, the Erap story would have come full circle—to our shame as a democracy.

So it is not really farfetched that, in the current socio-political setup, the country will come full circle with the Marcos story. Bongbong could be our next president and we will be the laughingstock of the whole world.

What would it be like when the Marcoses take over Malacanang again?

The waxed body of the dictator, which is being kept in a mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte, will finally be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The 1986 Edsa People Power uprising will no longer be officially celebrated. And the revision of the narrative of the Marcos years will become part of official government action.

Again, what I am painting here is a negative depiction of the future. I still have faith in the Filipino and I still believe that the Edsa spirit that animated the uprising will blanket the progressive segment of the populace once more now and move them to action. The mantra “Never again!” will have a magical ring to it once more.

Yes, never again.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 25, 2014.


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