Blow back/backlash on the Marcos revisionism

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

By this time, it is obvious to many Filipinos that part of the strategy of the Marcoses to make a political comeback, is to revise/rewrite the stories of the Marcos/martial law years to make them more palatable to the younger generation of voters. It is a long-term plan that, 35 years after the EDSA revolution that ousted Marcos and the family had to flee to Hawaii, the incident will be hazy and a distant memory to many Filipinos. This was started by minimizing the atrocities and the economic disasters during the Marcos years in the elementary and high school textbooks in the public schools in the 1990’s. This could only be done with money and influence on the DepEd, while the succeeding governments after martial law were preoccupied with myriad problems it had inherited. Then, the Estrada, Arroyo, and Duterte administrations became friendlier to the Marcoses, that this historical revisionism in schools was allowed.

The political comeback of the Marcoses started in the Ilocos and northern Leyte as their loyalists that benefitted from them, needed less funding and promises. After securing local positions, next was the Senate. Two of the children got elected as senators with more funding and alliances with other political dynasties. The next step was the vice presidency, which got derailed even with massive resources and support of traditional politicians as Robredo, a neophyte politician with very limited resources, beat BBM in the 2016 election. On a one-on-one contest, the Marcos name was still unpalatable to many voters. This led to the massive effort to revise the Marcos story and martial law history with an eye on the presidency.

Taking off from Duterte’s use of social media in the 2016 campaign, the Marcoses hired foreign and local high-tech companies to refurbish the Marcos legacy in social media. Algorithms of all social media sites were studied and manipulated, specific fake news/stories were fed to targeted audiences, and trolls and bots were deployed 24/7. This is a big operation that cost millions of dollars with no assurance of success as it generates its own weaknesses. Historically, revisionism creates blowback and backlash from academics and oppositions that are more factual and documented. The advent of the internet and the other faster information and communication technologies, makes the counter-stories just as effective and powerful.

I am old enough to have experienced martial law and the Marcos years, but in the last seven months, I have read and learned more stories about the Marcoses and the martial law years, than in the previous 20 years in both the main and social media. These are well documented and referenced for authenticity, that it easily debunks the revisionist Marcos stories in social media. These posts are also done by unpaid private individuals in their personal capacities using the same tactics and infrastructure as the paid trolls of the Marcos camp. These are from volunteers who even put their real names and email addresses to show that they are no longer afraid.  The troll’s posts are outnumbered seven to one and are drowned in social media, it looks like People Power in cyberspace.

Revisionism has been tried in many major historical events but with little success because truth has a way of eventually coming out. In the 20th century, when the Japanese deleted any mention of the Nanking massacre in all the books in Japan, it created such a blowback that Japan eventually admitted their error and made corrective measures. The attempt by some Germans and Europeans to deny that the holocaust, or the deliberate extermination of the Jews in Germany in World War II ever happened, was drowned by actual film footages and photographs of the gas chambers and the executions. So, if the multi-media records stored in many devices of the economic disasters and atrocities of the Marcos martial law years is transmitted to wider audiences in this internet era of social media, truth will eventually prevail.


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