Apropos the stream of comments generated by my article SYRIAN WAR: MARCOS IN RETROSPECT, Iâ€™m prompted to think back on Rashomon, that movie by Akira Kurosawa which won the Best Picture Award in the 1950 Berlin Film Festival onward to winning a similar honor in the Cannes Film Festival.
Rashomon tells the story of a murdered samurai viewed from different angles. Each of these angles claims to be the truth, to be more precise told during the trial by a number of people claiming to be witnesses to the crime. The testimonies contradict one another, making for the difficulty of telling which is true and which is false. This dilemma constituting Rashomonâ€™S theme is what I believe stares us in the face in the current discussion.
Which of the contradictory comments that poured into GRP on account of my article is true and which is false. Each of the comments is not wanting in historical proof.
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jcc goes to such great lengths, thank you, citing someoneâ€™s account of the EDSA event (I promise to read up on this to get me less ill-informed) to show that orders to shoot the EDSA crowd were given out but that the field commanders refused to carry out those orders.
On the other hand, Andrew reports on a conversation he heard between General Arturo Enrile and somebody in a London Timesâ€™ correspondentâ€™s bash in 1995 in which the general, said to be leading the armored column in EDSA, admitted that they were ordered to stop and being the army, they obeyed.
Twenty six years after, therefore, the question continues to hang: Did or did not Marcos order shooting the EDSA crowd?
jcc, again, calls it being â€œill-informedâ€ to believe the exchange between AFP Chief Ver and President Marcos was one for real. Johnny Saint agrees, calling it odd that Ver and Marcos should be talking that way on television. â€œThe whole event,â€ Johnny says, â€œseems contrivcd â€“ a scripted melodrama, and a bad one at that.â€
For her part, sendonggirl, whom Amir Al Bahrs alludes to as â€œlockness monsterâ€ and whom Johnny Derp would rather liken to a â€œmewling quimâ€ (whatever that means), points out impropriety in comparing a leader to Assad. â€œSuch a low bar hehehehe,â€ she comments, hardly realizing that â€œsuch a low barâ€ in fact was what people in the 70s â€“ at least Ninoy Aquino and his ilk â€“ were measuring Marcos against already: â€œMarcos! Hitler! Diktador! Tuta!â€ So okay with sendonggirl for Ninoy to go low, low to Hitler but never low enough to Assad? And for a final challenge, she prescribes, â€œcompare him to lincoln so we can see.â€
So okay, sendonggirl. You asked for it..
Lincoln did self-study of law. Marcos reviewed for bar while in prison. Even Stevens.
Lincoln passed the bar. Marcos topped the bar. Marcos up.
Lincoln lost a number of attempts at winning lower political posts. Marcos never lost an election. Marcos up.
Lincoln went turncoat from Whig Party to Republican Party and won US presidency. Marcos went turncoat from Liberal Party to Nacionalista Party and won Philippine presidency. Even Stevens.
Lincoln was captain of volunteers during the Black Hawk War but, as one account says, saw no combat save for â€œa good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes.â€ Marcos actually fought in battle as a combat intelligence officer for the allied forces in the Philippines during World War 2. Marcos up.
Seven states seceded from the United States during Lincolnâ€™s term. No portion of the nation seceded from the Republic of the Philippines during Marcosâ€™ term. Marcos up. (P.S. Such secession is being contemplated by the current PNoy administration for Mindanao through the Framework of Agreement. History will assign score to PNoy for this.)
The American Civil War broke out during Lincolnâ€™s term. No civil war broke out in Marcosâ€™ term. Marcos up.
Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and arrested suspected Confederates sympathizers without warrant. Marcos suspended writ of habeas corpus and arrested suspected communists without warrant. Even Stevens.
Lincoln said, â€œHold your friends close and your enemies closer.â€ (Sun Tzu said this first.) Marcos said, â€œThere are no permanent enemies. There are only temporary allies.â€ Even Stevens enough.
Lincoln said, â€œA house divided cannot stand.â€ Marcos said, â€œThis nation can be great again.â€ Marcos sounds better, or donâ€™t you agree?
Lincoln served for a little more than four years. Marcos served 20 years. Marcos far, far ahead.
So now, sendonggirl, see for yourself how Lincoln and Marcos compare. There is only one area in which Lincoln does one over Marcos. Lincoln was so hated in America that a popular actor assassinated him on April 14, 1865. Marcos was only exiled.
Why is that the case, that is, why exile Marcos? â€œBecause,â€ says Hayden Toro, â€œMarcos was against the bases agreement to be extended. Enrile, Ramos and Honasan were just front men of the Americansâ€¦.â€
Iâ€™m inclined to believe Hayden. The US military bases agreement was subject to review every five years. When Marcos came into power, he began imposing rental on these installations, the first president ever do so. By 1985, when another review was in the offing, the US must have had enough. Marcos had to go.
In this regard, Teddy Boy Locsin, reacting on Twitter to this same article, contributes a very helpful insight. He cites a meeting between Cory and Philip Habib, special envoy sent by Reagan to intervene in the crisis gripping the nation as a consequence of the presidential snap election. According to Teddy Boy, Cory rejected Habibâ€™s proposal for her to share power with Marcos and declared that if that happened, she would tear the nation. At which, narrates Teddy Boy, Habib stood and told Cory that she will (apropos the comment of Jack, tense is Teddy Boyâ€™s original) win. And as the clichÃ© goes, the rest is history. With EDSA, Cory won.
Now, see how we have meandered through a labyrinth of views which we seem to find a hard time getting out of. In much the same way, Rashomon treats our consciousness to endless juxtapositions of current and past scenes seemingly able to achieve only a grand display of incoherence.
In the opening sequence of Rashomon, a priest and a man (later to be identified as the woodcutter who, by his own testimony, discovers the murdered samurai) are under the ruined gate of Rashomon outside Kyoto, lamenting something which they say they cannot understand. An intruder rushes to the scene, taking shelter from the rain that is pouring hard. He is told of the twoâ€™s lament.
Says the priest, â€œWar, earthquake, winds, fire, famine, the plague. Year after year itâ€™s been nothing but disasters. And bandits descend upon us every night. Iâ€™ve seen so many men getting killed like insects. But even I have never heard such a story as horrible as this. Yes, so horrible. This time I may finally lose my faith in the human soul.â€
Whatâ€™s more horrible than war, earthquake, winds, fire, famine, the plague? The question prompts you to view the movie on. For all the disasters that had visited the Philippines, the country hasnâ€™t quite had enough?
In the finale, you get the answer: lies.
Cries the woodcutter at the intruder who accuses him of having stolen the precious pearl-inlaid dagger that went missing from the chest of the slain samurai.
â€œDamn it! Everyone is selfish and dishonest. Making excuses. The bandit, the woman, the man and you!â€
Thus the film delivers its powerful message: that nothing is true in the world and that what truth is to people are consequences of things that work to their favor.
Rashomonâ€™s impact precisely lies in its shattering of the hitherto held western belief of the universality of truth â€“ which obviously is what comments in the GRP stream without exception smack of.
We, all of us, always pretend to nobility in our words. But always we betray a gleam, if a tiny one, by which our listeners can look beyond our faÃ§ades.
What is mine in this instance? An ache wrought by the babies and children getting brutalized in the Syrian civil war. Itâ€™s a pain a lot more fundamental than striking up a brave political braggadocio or priding in grammatical perfection.
Itâ€™s really just a plain, simple cry: â€œPlease stop the Syrian civil war. Save the babies and children.â€
Discussions in Rashomon abruptly stop as an infantâ€™s cry rends the air. The discussants look and discover an abandoned baby, wrapped in an expensive kimono with an amulet left by the babyâ€™s parents obviously to protect it from harm. The three proceed to do each respective concern, The greedy intruder snatches the kimono off the baby then growls at the woodcutter as the latter tries to stop him.
â€œYou selfishâ€¦â€ says the woodcutter.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with that? Dogs are better off in this world. If you are not selfish, you canâ€™t survive.â€
The priest cradles the continuously-crying baby in his arms as the intruder hurries off. The woodcutter asks to have the baby.
â€œI have six kids of my own. Another one wouldnâ€™t make a difference.â€
The priest hands the baby to the woodcutter, whereupon it stops crying. The rain has stopped.
Manifesting a cleansing of spirit inside him, the priest says, â€œI think I can keep my faith in man.â€
Essayist, novelist, film writer and director