Don’t just teach your students to read. Teach them to question what they read, what they study. Teach them to doubt. Teach them to think. – Richard Feynman
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 fed with was supplied 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 searching for truth, more often than not, everything about what truth is, 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 benefited 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)
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” – George Eliot, Middlemarch
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 or more, 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 for whatever reason they didn’t I can only guess.
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/negationism.
To note, there was no internet back then, and my mind was too 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.
“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There’s not one of them which won’t make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.” – C.S. Lewis
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. In fact I can almost see myself joining this flash mob dance for Marcos’ birthday celbration.
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 far 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, I JUST GIVE PEOPLE A FALSE SENSE OF HISTORICAL GLORY AND ASSOCIATE IT WITH MARCOS.
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.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in. – Isaac Asimov
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 soon 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.
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change. – Albert Einstein
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.
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” – Corrie Ten Boom
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.
It is never too late to give up your prejudices – Henry David Thoreau
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.
“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
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 philosophically, 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.