By Blaise Henry E. Ilan

Camarines Norte News 

January 12, 2020


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

Last January 10, 2020, news came out saying that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos called the attention of educational institutions to revise the content of history books about Martial law in which have depicted their family in a bad light. While the revision of history books and the manner of instruction in educational institutions regarding the Martial law topic is still a remote possibility, the intention of the Marcos family to erase the horrors of Martial law in the memories of Filipinos is a direct attack to the known truth of the past.

In this generation, only a few people can clearly describe the atrocities committed by the Marcoses during the 1970s and 80s. To be able to at least accurately tell the experience and understand the scenario, one must be at his/her teenage years (preferably 16 above) during the time Martial law was declared in 1972. If we will do the math, one must be at least in his/her 60s at present time.

But even being alive during the martial law era is not a guarantee; there is still a possibility to not fully know the real story behind this dark chapter of our history with media and the freedom of expression being suppressed in all parts of the nation. Thus, the most accurate accounts will come from those people who are victimized by the Martial law era as well as those who are actively involved in the affairs of the country such as scholars, activists, soldiers, and government officials. The martial law victims who had experienced threats, tortures, detention, along with the bereaved families of the Desaparecidos and the graves of those who dissented the dictatorship are the living testament of the horrors of Martial law in which even Bongbong Marcos cannot just simply erase.

But what if these people are gone in the future? Who will tell the true story of Martial law to the youth? As a Filipino born in the 90s, my primary knowledge of martial law came from various historical texts and books as well as my teachers and professors in educational institutions in which I am formerly enrolled. Even in the absence of martial law survivors, we are assured that our history books and educational institutions are always there to guard the truth against those people who are trying to malign the minds of the public in order to suit their personal interests.

With the popularity of the internet, the Marcoses had successfully corrupted the minds of the vulnerable youth through spreading conspiracy theories, fake news, and organizing misinformation campaigns about Martial law in social media platforms. Due to the lack of Media and Information literacy skills, many Filipinos had fallen as victims of historical revisionism and political propaganda of the Marcos family. Little by little, the Marcoses are erasing a very vital piece of history. This is a dangerous and desperate move by the late strongman’s family.

While the Marcoses are successful in disseminating propaganda in the cheap Internet, they cannot simply touch the sacred community of scholars, historians, and academic institutions. Bongbong knows this, that’s why it is already expected to them to have this kind of desperation. They can praise Ferdinand Marcos all they want through speeches and social media posts but it will be forever written in the pages of history that according to the World Bank UN Office on Drugs and Crimes the late dictator had stolen $5 billion to $10 billion of ill-gotten wealth, earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the most corrupt leaders in the world. The museums containing the shoes and pieces of jewelry of Imelda will be forever there to expose to the children the insatiable greed of their family. History books will always cite the Amnesty International data noting that 3,000 people died, 34,000 were tortured, and 70,000 others were arrested without due process during the time of Martial law.

Professors will always tell to their students the P172.6 billion recovered by the Presidential Commission on Good Governance along with the seven charges of corruption sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to Imelda Marcos last 2018. These are solid facts that cannot just be simply forgotten by Filipinos. Should I say more? We are only looking at the tip of an iceberg! My advice to the youth; instead of immersing yourself in social media, read good books, listen to your teachers/professors, study hard, and surround yourself with factual information and data from legitimate sources.

Truly, history will be the judge of the Marcos family. The ghosts of the past will forever haunt Imee, Imelda,  Bongbong, and their allies. The attacks to the community of scholars and academic institutions are expected, for in the future they will be the last bastion of truth.