History retold

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

I pity certain characters in our society who are trying to change history. Our Spanish, Japanese and American past cannot be altered. The story of Luna, Aguinaldo, Del Pilar, Quezon, Magsaysay and the rest of the presidents and our so-called heroes have been edited to the best of their abilities. There are many issues public officials (past or present) want to sweep under the rug. Truth to tell, everything has been recorded, not only in the books but in the hearts and minds of men.

When martial law was declared on September 21, 1972, civil rights were suspended and military authority was imposed in the whole country. Reports show that during the period, there were 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 individual tortures, and 70,000 were incarcerated. Of the 3,257 killed, some 2,520, or 77 percent of all victims, were salvaged. They were tortured, mutilated, and unceremoniously dumped on a roadside for the public to see.

Thirty-thousand opposition figures, journalists, student and labor activists were detained in military camps. The military seized weapons, removed private armies and controlled influential politicians and families. Marcos closed the Philippine Congress. A significant number of media outfits were closed down and some operated under tight control.

My father was a direct victim of martial law. My mother was traumatized by martial law. That memorable night when the soldiers came for my father will forever be etched in her memory. I was wounded by it. I can never forget those dark days in our lives and in the history of our nation.

My late father Max V. Soliven along with Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Chino Roces, Soc Rodrigo, Monching Mitra, Voltaire Garcia and Jomari Velez were driven off into the night. They were kept in the same area where the communist and Huk leaders were imprisoned for years. My father was released from the military camp after 70 days, but was under house arrest until the People Power Revolution.

For those who are trying to recreate the story of martial law days, don’t waste your time. This era will never be forgotten. For Enrile’s part, he has surely turned into a kwentong kutsero (story-maker). We should ignore him not to mention the power-seeking Bong Bong Marcos and company. For those who believe those kwentong kucheros, know your history. Read and ask the people. Don’t allow yourselves to be dumb, we need stronger citizens these days. The Filipinos should never forget the past that has brought us to our present woes.

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I cannot get over the movie Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral. It is a reflection of our past and present leaders who are weak and unprepared. If you want to know why we are what we are today and why our Asian brothers have moved on while we move backward, watch the movie. You will see the type of leaders and the kind of people we are.

The title of the movie speaks for itself. The twist is how the audience were drawn to a seemingly good-looking hero, but a closer look brings them to the realization that he was very self-centered and immature. The character truly reminds me of our present-day public officials and how patronage which destroys us, is very strong in our system.

Our country needs to move on, but it will not unless we change in character and attitude. We also need to address illiteracy weakened by the many class suspensions and public holidays we have. How can LGUs suspend classes a day before without considering lessons, exams, and school events being stopped by their sudden announcements? How can a mayor declare another day off right after a public holiday believing that the town folk were tired celebrating the holiday? Susmariosep!

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With the new DENR Secretary, we continue to have problems with illegal mining. Why can’t Cimatu stop it? Why do illegal miners even exist under the very noses of the barangays and the mayors? We are not fools, power and money-driven officials will not stop unless the highest in the land will stop them from doing all these dirty tricks.

Last week’s disasters in Itogon, Benguet and Naga City, Cebu is a very clear case of neglect on the part of DENR and the LGU. As of Saturday, September 22, 42 deaths were reported in the Benguet landslide and 29 in Naga. When Mayor Christine Vanessa Chiong of Naga City called on a geological investigation, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of Region 7 said that the cracks found in the area would not cause harm to the surrounding communities and that the cracks in Sitio Tagaytay was not caused by quarry operations of APO mines but rather a “natural phenomenon.” Really? Will this MGB officer get away just like that? I think whoever said this needs a lot of explaining to do.

It is impossible that the DENR cannot see what is visible to the eye. Up on the air in an airplane or a helicopter or even on a speedboat you can see quarrying and mining activities all over the archipelago. You can even see cargo vessels coming from denuded mountains or drenched out rivers slowly moving toward the ocean. Can’t the DENR see them? What about our coast guards? Don’t they have the power to question and inspect? In fact, Laguna De Bay is still full of fish pens.

By the way, what is this report of an on-going construction of a P200-million mining project in Candelaria, Zambales which is allegedly funded by Chinese investors? News reports showed that Fujian Hengrun Investment Co., Ltd of China and Filipino firms Westchinamin Corp. and Easternreach Mining Group, Inc. have agreed to put up Ferro-Nickel Plant in Candelaria, Zambales despite strong opposition from the residents. There are so many foreign and local investors putting up mining and quarrying facilities and our government has not made a drastic move to completely stop them. The effect of mining and quarrying to our land and our people is worse than what happened to Boracay and yet the President and his men can still sleep?

Anyway, I hope the President will take serious action on “closing” the country’s mining industry. By the way, Senate President Tito Sotto just said that he has no intentions to change the words of our national anthem. Thank God!

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