Time heals the deepest of wounds. So grant his dying wish, and spare him a piece of humble patch of earth, where his family can lay him to rest.
Spare the dead of disrespect and let him be remembered by the good that he has done. Spare him this patch of earth and mind not the land and properties of individuals forcibly taken without compensation during his rule. Let him rest in peace as families have laid to rest their dead, whose protests were long silenced by warrantless arrest, torture and execution. Bury him and let the nation move on from the massive pilferage, crony corruption, decades of colossal and callous deception and lies. But most of all – honor him.
Why on a Sunday would I write on a topic so divisive? Not for hatred or retribution, not for finger-pointing. My motivation is singular: to serve the millennials, or those among them who are at least open to re-evaluate their sense of history, some truths to tame the lies. It’s not the younger ones’ fault to be born in a time of free press and free social media. For them, democracy is not an issue nor a concern, because they never experienced democracy taken away, except for the occasional “nos” and “don’ts” from parents and in schools.
They did not have the benefit of witnessing the horrors, and sadly, not even the benefit of an education of what transpired during the two decades of dictatorship.
Of all materials on the Internet, none so far is as scary and moving, and as important as the clip that showed how the millennials think and feel of a historical past they were not aware of, and how their perception changed after hearing from the people who suffered the trauma of Martial Law. The innocent belief of how Martial Law benefited the country turned to shock, tears, and “sorry I didn’t know” after listening to individual stories of folks who talked to them, one on one. These folks were just a bit older than the millennials in the clip when Martial Law was imposed. They were abducted while at play, their genitals tortured through electrocution, placed in confinement in very small crowded places. Some of these folks perhaps became victims because of their outspoken beliefs, but some of them, simply by bad luck or unknown reasons. Go ahead, access it at http://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/05/04/16/watch-when-millennials-meet-mart…
What is even more striking to me from that clip is that these folks would soon fade away as is the story of our limited earthly lives, and these young adults would be the ones left. Had they not had this encounter, they may have lived a life of not knowing. They will be at risk of supporting in the future something that can repeat the past, and who knows what that will mean for our country, our people and our race.
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Four decades ago, the country sank in $30 billion of debt, that indebted even unborn children at that time. Meanwhile, the ill-gotten wealth of the ruling family was estimated to be as much as $10 billion in offshore structures and bank accounts. Only a fraction of that has been recovered to date but that fraction reportedly aggregates to P170 billion. The exact amount of the loot may not be proven, but certainly, money has been stolen or else money would not have been recovered. Credit it to an unthinkable democratic system of loopholes and dishonesty why none of the then ruling family have been punished to date and have since been even elevated to very high positions of public office.
Or credit that to the efficacy of the “divide and rule” policy of the previous strongman, who relied on the Filipino culture of “padrino” and “utang na loob.” If one benefited during his term, that was sufficient reason for that person and his family to support the then ruling family up to this day.
So here we are, the incumbent president says he is following the law, particularly Republic Act 289, known to us as the Libingan ng mga Bayani Law. For the record, our real national heroes have their own special resting places elsewhere, and not all soldiers and presidents of the republic are buried there. The Law, however, does say that its purpose is “To perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn.” The spirit or intent of the law is as much a part of it as the written letter of the law. What Mr. Marcos has done, is that worthy of emulation by this, and next generations?
Thus, the inscription at the entrance of the Libingan says, “I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death!” – a quote from General Douglas McArthur.
I will not belabor the point any further, because we were “divided and ruled,” we will always have different interpretations. But I would suggest this: the Libingan ng mga Bayani deserves extensions elsewhere because it is simply physically overcrowded. There is, in fact, a Libingan ng mga Bayani extension in Iloilo.
Mr. Marcos, regardless of our strong views, is a hero to some, especially in the north. So why not just make a Libingan ng mga Bayani in the north, by presidential mandate, and then bury him there? The rest of the country may not be as disturbed. If he is remembered and heralded as a hero in the place he really took good care of during his regime, then we can only afford to understand. That is respect; that is still Filipino. Then the only thing left is not to be ashamed to tell the kids our true history as a country, regardless of how dark a certain part is – and no more lies. If we say “enough!,” for the sake of our children, let it be enough with the lies. Let not the past be buried. Let the truth be undead.
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Alexander B. Cabrera is the chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines. He also chairs the Educated Marginalized Entrepreneurs Resource Generation (EMERGE) program of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). Email your comments and questions to aseasyasABC@ph.pwc.com. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.