Don’t re-write the past

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak - The Philippine Star

To say that the past few weeks have been “exciting” would be an understatement. In fact, the past month has been exciting to say the least. So many changes in the world and so many things have happened that many of us thought would never come to pass. If you took a time machine back ten, even five years, and told yourself that Donald Trump would one day be President of the United States and that here in the Philippines we would be burying late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani, you’d probably scoff at your future self and say “No way!”

Well, fast forward to today and those exact things are happening. It boggles my mind how easily the multitude can forget the errors of the past. I mean, just in the elections alone. I understand the need for change and the desperation of wanting things to be better than they currently are now. After all, the world has gone through some tough times in the past few years. However, the desire for change should not come at any cost and should not cause us to backtrack. We have to ask ourselves, when has giving power to misogynistic men with foul mouths and narrow minds ever led to anything good in the past? We don’t have to look far to see the mistakes made before us. We just have to remember and acknowledge them.

The problem is that these days no one seems to want to do that. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, whom I feel is doing a wonderful job in her position, addressed this very issue of ignoring our history in a special address to the alumni for the homecoming of the UP College of Law in Makati City. She not only addressed the alumni there present but also the thousands who gathered at Rizal Park in Manila to protest the Marcos burial. She reminded everyone of that famous quote “those who ignore their history are doomed to repeat it.”

Honestly, it’s a tale as old as time. We’ve seen it happen again and again and again so I don’t understand why it’s still so hard to believe that history is important. It’s not just something we learn about in school and then move on from. It shows us all the important lessons from everything that has come before and is supposed to help us not fall into the same traps again in the present. The problem is, it can’t do that if we ignore it or try to pretend it never happened.

Morales lamented that Filipinos these days are more easily swayed by fake news that fits into their current mind frame rather than actually verifying if the facts are true. Fake news sites and half-truths spread by untrustworthy sources are taken up as gospel and spread like wildfire. It’s very scary as conclusions are made based on baseless accusations and assertions of people who have not done their proper research or worse who are flat out lying.

Morales went on to say that we are living in an age where truth doesn’t really seem to matter anymore. The only thing that matters is finding “facts” to just support a certain way of thinking, whether those facts are right or wrong. That’s a very dangerous way of thinking, because if you think like that then you can easily legitimize almost any action and justify anything you feel as being the right thing. Where do we draw the line?

Personally I think the Marcos burial issue is a big, blazing, terrible example of revisionist history. I’ve seen statements like “Killings aside, he really was a good leader” or “Well, they should have fixed the loopholes in the law to prevent this years ago.” First of all, “killings aside”? Is this real? How can anything else make sense after that opening? I can’t believe how some people say we really did enjoyed so much progress as long as we simply ignore the thousands who were tortured or killed. That should never be an option.

And secondly, yes perhaps they should have fixed the legal loopholes, but that’s just nitpicking at this point. Morales was also quoted as saying “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” She could not be more right. There are many things in this world that, theoretically, you can do, but that doesn’t mean you should go out there and do them. I don’t put any stock in the president saying that he had to let the burial happen as legally he was just following the law. That’s just an excuse, he made a promise to a friend and he fulfilled it. It’s as simple as that. I just wish he had considered the feelings of the Filipinos who suffered under the Marcos regime. After all, didn’t he promise to look out for the Filipinos who don’t have a voice instead of those in power?

I feel President Duterte has had a very colorful first few months in office. He came in representing the hopes of so many Filipinos who felt he could give them a better life and so far I have to wonder if those voters feel he is fulfilling his promises to them? He has been very aggressive with his agenda when it comes to the war on drugs and we have all seen how he is trying to establish a new foreign policy for the country veering away from dependence on the US. That may not typically be such a bad thing but why strive to be independent by removing dependence on one nation and replacing it with dependence on another? I personally don’t think China will come to our aid when we need them. But that’s my opinion. I suppose time will show us if the president’s choices have tangible merit and if they will benefit the country.

At the end of the day, we are right here and we have to make the absolute best of the situation we are currently in. I think it’s only right for everyone against the Marcos burial to continue speaking up despite the actual burial being over, because if we don’t it’s basically us agreeing to forget the past, and that we must never do. Even one lone voice can be enough to keep history alive and that voice must never be silenced.

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