Your (adoptive) parents were martial law victims (ML). How does it make you feel that people trivialize the suffering and anguish?
It depends; some people trivialize the injustices of ML because either they are ignorant of history or that they are just misinformed or miseducated altogether.
I tend first to consider the generation of the people/person and their level of education and source of information before I even react emotionally or otherwise.
The group that I belong to, The Martial Law Chronicles Project (MLCP), whose main aim is to educate teachers (public and private schools), handled several focus group discussions, and most of the teachers who have a favorable view of ML usually belongs to ages ’20s to ’30s.
The younger ones didn’t fare much better because they see ML as an era comparable to World War Two, so I mostly detach myself from emotions and hold back judgment whenever I hear people trivialize ML.
But it is a different story for people older than me, have better education, and where facts and scientific evidence regarding the crimes of the Marcoses are abundant, yet choose to believe otherwise.
How do you cope with the misinformation on ML?
It’s hard, really; social media has become a boiling pot of disinformation because post-modernism has become the significant trend nowadays.
Today, most people are not interested in objective truth; instead, they consider social validation as supreme. Ergo people tend to descent to tribalism instead of critical thinking.
I cope by basically telling the truth about ML and engaging people who think otherwise, albeit with a caveat: as long as we both consider scientific and empirical data as supreme alongside objective moral values.
I don’t worry too much about who will be offended by me speaking the truth; instead, I am more worried about who will be misled and deceived if I stay silent.
The supporters of Marcos Jr always push for moving on vis-a-vis ML. Why should people not accept/accept this opinion?
I think that the statement “move on” can only be used by people who earned the right to use it, and they are the victims of ML and not the other way around.
The Marcoses never suffered under ML; in fact, they and their supporters enriched and thrived from the crimes of ML. Victims of ML should be the ones who decide when to move on and not the perpetrators.
Does one need to experience ML and its atrocities to say it happened physically? – For some people, yes, but let me expound, I am not saying that people need to experience the brutal atrocities of ML; however, we found in MLCP that the creative pedagogy of “acting out” experiences of survivors tend to give participants a heightened sense of appreciation of the experience.
We learned this from actors from PETA, and this can be as simple as blindfolding a participant (with their consent) and having them do some simple exercises with noises and orders from us within a limited time (done professionally) and then having a deep conversation afterward, with each participant sharing how they feel in the entire episode.
We found that an experiential approach enables participants to empathize more with victims of ML.
How do you find the state of misinformation/fake news/myths about ML in the country? Has it gone from bad to worse? In what way?
I see the proliferation of misinformation/fake news/myths as more of a reflection of our country’s failure in educating our people. Also, people I know who worked with Cory Aquino attested that they failed in educating the younger generation.
However, I still don’t see it as getting worse because what the Duterte government has done and has been doing is to magnify the atrocities of ML by allowing the late dictator to be buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.
In effect, there has been a renewed interest in the study of ML, along with protest actions against the dictatorial inclinations of the Duterte government.
What are the reasons for the proliferation of these fake news etc. Marcos and ML?
The lack of pushback from people who know better and the failure of academic institutions in cementing proper teaching of Philippine history. It also didn’t help that the previous governments helped in the rehabilitation of the Marcoses after they were allowed to come back to the country. (See: Rights and due process — for the Marcoses)
Why do people like his supporters believe them?
Marcos supporters have different foundations for their beliefs; personally, when I was a Marcos supporter (surprise-surprise), my primary motivation for believing in Marcos was based on the perception of the ideal Filipino.
A highly intelligent bar topnotcher, excellent speaker with a photographic memory was enough for me to conclude that the guy cannot make any mistakes. If there ever was any, it was because of the people around him and not because of his decisions.
My biological family pushed Marcos as a Filipino to admire, and once you give a child an ideal and an image to aim at, eventually, the rest can be rationalized.
How do you combat these fake news etc.?
The Philosopher Isaiah Berlin stated Three Kinds of beliefs:
- Those that can be established by empirical observation
- Those that can be established by logical deduction
- Those that cannot be proved in either of these ways
Ergo combating fake news should be approached on three different levels; however, the approach I found most successful is the one where you unravel a person’s moral values, and you can only do this with a lot of patience and exploratory questions that aims to understand the person’s choices and how they came about it.
Why is there a need to combat these fake news etc.?
Because by allowing lies to multiply, we open ourselves, our society, our civilization, and our children to a bleaker future open to more evil people like the Marcoses and Duterte’s.
How did these myths/fake news etc., come about? For example, was it due to failure in education? Lack of apathy? Wilful ignorance/denial?
As long as there are evil people like the Marcoses whose agenda is to enrich themselves by gaining power in government, there will always be myths/fake news.
I believe that this phenomenon has become more prevalent because of the advent of social media. And as long as our children lack proper education, people will never learn about empathy and instead choose to ignore and deny historical truths as long as it benefits them.
(featured image from Tomasino)