I was a Marcos apologist, and this is my story.
Disclaimer: A lot of my relatives worked under the offices of the government at the time of Martial Law (ML) and it provided food on our table. One can say that even the milk I was given when I was a baby was supplied for by the ML government so one can only imagine how grateful my family was towards the Marcoses. I love my relatives, and this article is in no way to discredit how they feel towards ML, however it is about time I write about how one is short of being brainwashed to believe lies and how more than often this starts with ones family.
So, I apologize if this article might sound irreverent or disrespectful, but in the spirit of truth, more often than not, everything seems to be offensive as Dr. Jordan Peterson pointed out.
“In order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive.” ― Jordan B. Peterson
May my relatives find it in their hearts to read this article with an open mind and focus on where evidence rests.
Political discussions with kids weren’t the strongest suit of my family.
Whenever discussions arise, we were ordered to stay in another place.
I wasn’t sure if they were shielding us from the discussions, or they were afraid that we might unwittingly mention it elsewhere, nonetheless we were ‘incommunicado’ at best whenever these things happen at home.
However, that didn’t stop me from being inculcated with the myths surrounding Ferdinand Marcos (FM) and Martial Law (ML).
And growing up in an environment where my relatives benefitted from ML didn’t help either in promoting critical thinking in the family. (Critical thinking in the sense that one is also able to take a stand to argue for an issue and afterwards take up the opposite stand)
I was indoctrinated from a very young age that Ferdinand Marcos was the real hero of EDSA, (I know, I know don’t roll your eyes just yet) that Martial Law was heaven for the Philippines, that Cory and Ninoy Aquino were EVIL people.
Whenever I ask why, my relatives would answer- it was because Marcos said so, and because THEY too said so, and that’s the end of it.
You see, in our family you never question authority, everything they said is the law (sort of like Martial Law on a daily basis and that does not include the beatings but that’s another story). I think that was the way my relatives were also brought up, back in the province.
I remember, I would go to school shouting “Marcos, Marcos, Marcos Pa Rin!” complete with the V sign and the red shirt that I was so proud to wear.
I would hate the color yellow and would look condescendingly at it every chance I get.
Give that mindset and worldview ten years, and you will find yourself a full-fledged Marcos apologist.
Sort of what one would call in the U.S. a white supremacist, I guess…
I was also trained to look at the “Golden Age” of Marcos in an era where the grownups are the only source of information, never mind that the school system never brought up the history of Martial Law at all, which also didn’t help either.
Apparently most of my history teachers think that Philippine History ended after World War 2, the only ones who talked to me about Martial Law in a hush as if being careful not to have anyone hear them and of course outside of the school curriculum were both U.P. Alumni.
So imagine this experience by my generation multiply it with the millions of others in other schools and you will have a recipe for historical revisionism.
To note, there was no internet back then, and my mind was very young to understand the intricacies of a healthy debate. (and honestly, I was too pre-occupied with basketball and playing the guitar)
So, I stuck with what “I felt was right” by the authority of my relatives who raised me.
Therefore, for years I glorified Ferdinand Marcos and his New Society and would always defend his legacy, always using the same arguments of Marcos Loyalists like:
- Marcos, built this and built that…
- It was Imelda’s fault and not Marcos on why there were problems at that time…
- Marcos made the country rich…
- Marcos made the country peaceful…
- Marcos stopped the communists from overrunning the country…
- Marcos cleaned everything… from trash to squatters…
- Marcos was the most intelligent and the most able President ever and he was also a war hero…
- The EDSA revolution happened, but it also made the country into a total mess, compared to Marcos‘ Philippine heaven.
- EDSA Revolution has been just a ploy to replace Marcos and prop up Elite Rule.
- All of our politicians steal from the country, at least Marcos made something out of it, see the buildings and bridges he built?
- The country was the Tiger of Asia at the time of Marcos, but look at it now we are swimming in poverty…
(This list I would later see when Facebook (FB) came to light, being spread around and random people just sharing it)
You name it, I knew it.
All the unwritten arguments, and demonizing of the Aquino’s to the victim blaming of the Marcoses towards communists and activists.
I’ve used them, most often successfully, influencing people around me and arguing them down, those people who had a very small amount of information between their ears (technically like me but worse).
And to make it worse, fate was on my side, as I can easily dismiss all that is negative in society at the time and point at the ‘effectiveness of Martial Law’ in instilling ‘discipline’ because yes the country in a way is really messed up no matter how one looks at it (only for me to find out it was mostly because of Marcos).
IT WAS THAT EASY. Or perhaps because nobody bothered to correct me and challenge what I know.
So, I totally get it when Marcos apologists are the way they are, it is because they weren’t born that way, it is because they were grown that way.
Now how did I become a non-believer of Marcos and Martial Law?
How could an ardent, well-trained from birth Marcos lover become one of those people standing up on FB whenever people are spreading the legacy of Marcos?
What triggered my conversion?
I think the breakthrough began when I ran away from home.
Yes, I did run away from home and lived in different houses and eventually settled down with my current family now.
I found out that they were victims of Marcos and ML.
That was when the stories came out.
It took some time for me to digest everything, as I wasn’t completely convinced myself that the victims of ML were telling the truth.
Every now and then I would slide back in doubt, only realizing afterwards that I am doing myself a great injustice by not totally looking for facts and just assuming anything at face value.
I remember an adage while I was undergoing this transformation: “You do not choose the books you read, the books choose you.”
And true enough, I found books written by the survivors of ML.
I researched profusely as if my life depended on it, I also worked with an NGO where people were former comrades in the CPP-NPA but were also victims of its purges.
It became more obvious that my fanaticism was based from the stories programmed within me by my family.
And because of this it enabled me to deny any amount of evidence unless I view history with an open mind minus the pre-suppositions.
To tell you the truth, it wasn’t easy, it entails thinking over a lot of things and swallowing my pride.
And that is harder than most things to accept, especially for people to realize they made a mistake.
To admit and recognize that there is a problem with what I believe is painful, one might call it cathartic, it also entails a lot of humility.
I soon realize that to be convinced of the merits of ML, would also mean I would have to ABSOLUTELY deny the atrocities and injustices that happened back then.
Consequently, it would also mean accepting all of them as “necessary.”
And that makes it an ultimate moral dilemma, not to mention a really bad case of cognitive dissonance.
I have to ask myself:
- Who was Ferdinand Marcos?
- Was ML moral to begin with?
- Did these things (incarceration, tortures, disappearances, murders) happen? If so, why?
- Why was Martial Law proclaimed in the first place?
- Who benefited from Martial Law?
- Why was there an EDSA insurrection?
- Was EDSA insurrection necessary?
- Who was Ninoy Aquino and his wife?
- Who were the people who suffered under Martial Law and what were their stories?
- Why did people hate Marcos at that time?
- What was the state of the country at that time?
- If Marcos was so great, why can’t he control Imelda?
- If Marcos was so great, why did these things (incarceration, tortures, disappearances, salvaging, murders) happen under his watch?
- What was Marcos‘ reason for declaring ML and why?
- Did Marcos steal money from the country? If yes, how much? How did it affect our country in the short term and the long run?
- If I was one of the victims of the abuses of Martial Law what would I feel?
- If one of my loved ones was a victim of ML what would I feel?
- If a family of mine got tortured, disappeared and murdered by ML would I continue to support it?
“WHY SHOULD I BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT ML?”
I realize that I have to ask these questions and go where the evidence leads me.
I would have to look at the facts and evidence from outside of the country, from people and organizations that are not influenced by the political forces of the government.
I realize that I cannot just justify Martial Law based ONLY on my opinion, because even though I may have the right to do so I cannot have the right to have my own facts.
I have to find the truth, and the truth is, most, if not all of the justifications I heard about the implementation of ML, can never hold water under intense scrutiny and solid evidence.
It would crumble scientifically, morally and ethically if one really plans on getting at the bottom of it.
Some people say that Martial Law also did something good for the country despite its shortcomings.
It becomes sort of saying that a physically and emotionally abusive husband is still a moral person as long as he provides for the family.
Unfortunately, I believed this kind of statement back then, and for the life of me, I will do anything today in my capacity to stop the future generations in believing the same.
Standing Up Against Marcos Apologists and Historical Negationism
I would soon find out that even in the education sector there are teachers and professors who are trying to re-calibrate the discussion of ML.
One of their arguments was that ML should be taught ‘objectively’.
And this goes without saying, to teach the history of ML while highlighting its pros and cons.
To withhold judgment until the “benefits” were also discussed.
I mean seriously?
Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who enforced kidnapping, torture, rape, massacres and tons of human rights abuses and you still give him the benefit of the doubt to consider the “good things” he did for the country?
For one, what do these academicians mean by good?
The good in which the country benefitted or the good in which the dictator and people who supported him benefitted?
Also, does doing something “good” exonerate Ferdinand Marcos of all the crimes he committed?
The answer clearly is NO, so what gives?
It’s just like saying Ted Bundy was a good and diligent employee despite kidnapping and murdering women and thus in telling his story these things must be highlighted in order to promote “objectivity”.
There is a very good reason why people never use that argument for Hitler, Stalin & Mao.
Them who out of a whim wiped out millions of their own.
Ferdinand Marcos wiped out thousands of Filipinos too, so why can’t he belong among those people considered as bastions of dictatorship?
Is there a quota before he becomes ‘admissible’ within this blood-thirsty club?
The thing is, it was only back in 2017 that the world bank exposed its findings in Mindanao under the time of Martial Law.
Apparently, there were at least 5 million Muslims who disappeared after Martial Law. The world bank suspects a genocide happened as they can’t figure out where the 5 million Muslims went in that span of time Martial Law was implemented.
What is the strongest argument of Marcos Apologists?
“EDSA People Power was a failed revolution, that it only prompted the return of the old oligarchy.”
Indeed, this is their best argument to date and perhaps the only one, never mind that it is unscientific or literally unfounded, but because it clearly illustrates the disappointment and disgust by people who fought for democracy even from the standpoint of Marcos’ detractors.
I wrote an answer to this below:
I take offense.
I take offense to the idea that after thirty years, we celebrate People Power anniversaries after toppling a dictatorship in 1986 only to have the son of the dictator waltz back in power along with their cohorts and run for vice president of this country. (yes Bong-bong Marcos almost won the Vice-Presidency and is still trying to wrest power under the Duterte government)
I take offense that after thousands of documented cases of human rights abuses and millions of dollars being recovered from ill-gotten wealth, millions of Filipinos still question the validity of EDSA People Power.
I take offense that whenever I open a fashion magazine every year you will see the faces of Imelda and her family gracing the parties of high society and being featured prominently.
I take offense that Filipinos still elected their family and supporters back in power as if the entire practice of EDSA People Power was a farce, a temporary turnover where no justice, accountability or recompense ever came to light.
I take offense that until now, victims of martial law abuses are still waiting for justice to be served, nay, they are one by one dying by the day either questioning God why, or just accepting the atrocities they suffered as a way of life.
Yes, I take offense.
I take offense when people who left this country have the gall to criticize our situation from the comfortable confines of their homes, while sipping a warm cup of coffee or a wonderful glass of wine.
There’s a problem with that practice, and that is they need to earn that right. After all, isn’t it a good idea to ask oneself, what good have I done for my country, even before I criticize it for its own good?
The thing is, it is not enough to point out the problems of your people, you also have to create solutions for them and do whatever it is in your power to help improve the lives of the people you are criticizing, until there is nothing left to criticize.
Giving up on them and blaming them as a whole removes the chance for one to reach to the younger generation and change their behavior.
I take offense that despite the improvements of technology and information we still have the same problems.
We hate congested traffic, but what do we do to fix it?
We hate corruption, but we vote the same leaders over and over again.
We want to have a better way of life, but we look outwards of our country and not within.
We love our heroes but we do not aspire to be like them?
I take offense when people equate EDSA people power with the Aquino‘s, and ridicule Cory and her family while blaming them for the demise of our society.
Just to remind you, EDSA People Power happened because some sonuvabitch killed Ninoy Aquino, the last person who, if not for the grace of God and for his political status, would have been summarily executed along with the thousands before him.
Tell you what, EDSA People Power is not just about the Aquinos, it is about every single Filipino that was tortured, ‘salvaged’, had disappeared, raped and God knows what psychological damage they and their family suffered.
It just so happened that for the very first time and for the last time in those fateful years, Filipinos said; “TAMA NA, SOBRA NA, PALITAN NA!”
I take offense when people call Filipinos who believed in the spirit and the victory that was EDSA a farce and a “noytard”.
I take offense because I always believe that Filipinos are worth something, that with or without EDSA, we should always be wary of the wrong doings being done to us by our leaders and the sad plight of our people.
That we have the right to call a spade a spade and make people accountable for their actions regardless if they are an Aquino or a Marcos or a supporter of EDSA and Martial Law.
That we can demand justice and protect the common good regardless of classes and literacy.
For all its shortcomings, EDSA people power reminded us that our love of country and the common good will always precede that of our fear.
That even rape, torture, summary executions and death will not hinder our people from reaching their full potential as a nation.
And lastly, I take offense when people think that these ideas ended in EDSA People Power.
We remember EDSA People Power once a year, why not remember the love for our country every day of the year?