As a millennial who enjoys his rights to fully exercise his freedom of expression, I have not really experienced the horrors brought upon the violation of human rights and freedom that doomed this nation decades ago, nor I cannot fathom the apathy and the misinformation of the youth from the atrocities committed by the Marcoses. Amidst the collective memory of the many, the full documentation and historical studies on one of the darkest chapters of our history, why is it that most of the millennials have completely forgotten about it, do not care about it, worse, distort truths and decorate the dark era with gold edifice and splendor?
If I am writing this in time of the Martial Law, I could’ve been lying naked on ice, pretty banged and beaten up by MetroCom, my body lacerated with beatings and marks left by cigarette burns, or maybe hanged upside down, electrocuted with the wires connected to my fingers and genitalia. You and I wouldn’t be browsing silly videos on Youtube, search for answers on Google for our assignments, or laugh at memes on the internet. All of us wouldn’t be enjoying a drink from a pub or party hard on a bar past 12.
It has been cliche to forgive and forget, but many times in the course of our history that the Filipino has embraced it and imbued it in our cultural domains. We forgive, of course, but there are certain circumstances and boundaries that should govern in the process, but never, ever forget.
Mendiola Massacre? Maguindanao Massacre? Mamasapano? The Lumads? Do they still ring a bell? During those events, they were the frontiers of newspapers, the main stories from the news, the trend in social feeds, but today, people hardly talk about them anymore. For some people, there is immense pleasure in showcasing ‘intellect’ on societal issues, converting Facebook likes into cheap shots of pride and pretentious sense of belonging offered by virtual society. As times go by, aside from having an elusive justice, such events are nothing but forgotten fragment of our own past.
The Japanese never forgot their war-crimes, even the current Emperor himself who was only a little kid during the WW2 expressed his profound remorse for Japan’s actions. He also paid his tributes to the victims, veterans, and heroes of war. The Jews who were victims of the holocaust erected memorials and statues, built museums and educated their children in memory of their kin. They even remembered the Philippines as a loving country who provided asylum to the Jews that sought refuge.
Where as we, we don’t only forget, but we re-elect them in public office! We desecrate the monuments built to uphold the legacies of our brave fellowmen. We manipulate truths into our own accord for the sake of politicking and self-interest. We invent a glorious past fueled by our disillusionment, hence turning a blind eye on facts and figures on what really has happened in our country.
In class, I took the liberty of telling the story of EDSA by Russel Molina and ISANG HARDING PAPEL by Augie Rivera. These storybooks are creative avenues to educate the children about what transpired during the time of Martial Law. I retold the stories of how the dictator imposed havoc on his people, solidifying the foundations of corruption in the government, political abductions and killings, torture methods and all of the unimaginable things that compromised our freedom. There was little expectation on them to digest everything and create a visual interpretation of the time that was, but I was really surprised on their interest and curiosity. After our storytelling, I asked them to write about anything for the Martial Law victims. Most of my kids said thank you for their heroism, but two kids wrote three things that struck me the most. Sana masaya na kayo dyan sa langit…Salamat dahil malaya na kami ngayon…Sana di na ito maulit.
This is where teachers, parents, and adults come in to educate our young ones. The curriculum on Araling Panlipunan should have a clearer and more structured discourse in tackling the Martial Law, explaining why #NeverAgain, backed up by true stories and factual data. It is a fact that Filipinos are non-confrontational in nature, but as a country, we should confront our past, good or evil so that we can use them as a guide to our future.
At the end of the day, it is not just how much you knew, how much you sympathized, or how much you remembered, but how you continued recounting the stories and fighting the same principles for the generations to come.
After all, EDSA Revolution was never an end, but a start. Tara na sa EDSA…