Of Madonna and Martial Law

edsa-nunsWe have been deluged by Martial Law articles and comments recently.  Part of this has to do with marking the 30th anniversary of EDSA, true.  But a greater part of it is the resurgence of Bongbong Marcos in the VP surveys. People (especially of a certain age) are genuinely aghast and distressed that the Philippines looks ready to put another Marcos en route to Malacanang.
Foaming in the mouth, many are blaming the reliable scapegoat, the stupid millenials. It has become a great generational divide–those who lived and remember what it was like during Marcos, and those who were born later or were too young to remember.  It is especially frustrating for the former group that the latter group outnumbers them, and will likely determine the outcome of these elections.

Like old codgers and curmudgeons starting a lecture with “In my time, I used to walk 10km to school without shoes, in waist-high floodwaters…”, we tend to belittle the young people.  After all, we are older, wiser and, hello?, WE WERE THERE.  These young whippersnappers with their broken english, they don’t know what the heck they are talking about.  They imagine a Golden Age under Marcos, not realizing that far from it, Dark Age is a more fitting monicker.

They are crazy stupid. Or are they?

The problem is the harder we push back, the more resistance we get in return. And the more shortcuts we take, the more younger people doubt we are telling the truth.  It is not a simple story of Marcos was evil and we threw him out i.e. the good guys won and that’s that.

Even bringing up the horrors of torture and salvagings (summary executions) in graphic detail do not produce the intended effect. After all, in a violent age where 4,000 people can be killed in an instant by terrorists flying a plane into a building, and where water torture is used by “the good guys” the United States, there is no more coin in shock value.  Young Filipinos saw and heard how the SAF 44 soldiers were massacred. It is hard to bring up an ancient bogeyman when equally scary or even more terrifying monsters like ISIS inhabit our present.

Insisting that everything and everyone associated with Marcos was evil, and sticking to this black and white paradigm is simplistic and injurious, not only to the way we recount history to our children, but also to the way we want our government and society to be organized. Marcos trauma and the fear of another dictator coming to take away our freedom have already had profound impact on our post-Martial Law life as a nation.

We must never ever be caught lying or fudging the data, which unfortunately, this administration has a penchant of doing. Young people can smell lies and they are smarter than you think in spotting data mining.  Just the other day, I was furious at the government’s Official Gazette for producing a GDP graph that supposedly compared the Marcos era economic performance with succeeding presidents’. Problem is, they only included the last 5 years of Marcos’s administraton from 1980-1985, conveniently when the depressed global economy and the political crisis caused by Ninoy Aquino’s assasination plunged the country into negative growth.

The temptation for historical revisionism, especially now that we are facing elections and many of the same players are running against the administration, has reportedly lately manifested itself again in the experiential museum set up as part of the EDSA 30 anniversary.  In the exhibits, the roles of the Aquinos are prominently displayed while the roles of other key players such as Binay, Honasan, Ramos and Enrile are downplayed or omitted altogether. Talk about the victors getting to write history.

So, yes show them the (correct) facts and context and then give your opinon.  But also recognize and acknowledge that the truth is– complicated.

For example, Bobi Tiglao had a column which put the Marcos dictatorship in historical context vis-a-vis the Asia region.  That is useful in understanding how Marcos came about and it is useful in coming up with a fair historical assessment. It was the age of the Asian strongman leader: Indonesia had Suharto; Korea had Park; Malaysia had Mahathir, etc.  All of them were dictators, and to an extent that was a reaction to the needs of the times.  There was a global threat of Communism and the Cold War was raging with spheres of influence being carved out by the US and Russia.  When Saigon fell to the communists, people expected the red wave to sweep down and spread across Southeast Asia, as in actual military invasion. This was the backdrop of Martial Law. In the Philippines, we cannot neglect to mention The First Quarter Storm, the almost daily student riots in the streets.  We should not omit the Oil Crisis of the early 70’s and the hyperinflatioin that resulted in even wealthy families foregoing meat.

Moreover, it is not enough to recount and pass on history as accurately as possible, we must also analyse in light of the past 30 years what exactly transpired and what it meant.  That has not been done enough and there is a multitude of underlying and related issues that millennials, knowingly or unknowingly, sense are not being articulated and being held back.

Vince Rafael pointed out one of the obvious take-away that everybody should recognize by now: that EDSA only amounted to political change, a rotation of elites, and no real societal change.  In fact, we fell back into the same system of corrupt patronage and oligarchs that Marcos sought to abolish and replace with the New Society. It is an unfinished revolution.  One of the difficult questions we have to ask is whether our current system better enables us to achieve that much needed inclusive growth.

Problem is some are unwilling to take off the rose colored glasses and debate the real underlying issues on why some people harken back to the old autocratic system. Some of the larger issues we should be debating with the youth are:

1) Are there any advantages to an authoritarian type regime?  Why are centrally planned economies like China and Vietnam able to rapidly mobilize their laws and resources to spur their economies? Why do they still have a controlled press in Singapore and how does that reconcile with our beliefs on censorship?  Is our own system, where the press is often bought or owned by the powers that be, much better?

Why were we among the first nations to overthrow a dictator?  What are the experiences of other countries that ousted dictators? What is the role of economics in social unrest and revolt against authoritarianism?  Where do we think the balance lies between the sublimation of individual rights to public rights?

2) Is the idea of a “benign dictator” realistic? We have always been told that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But then how to explain Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew? Although Lee did jail and persecute his political opponents, he was definitely more benign than Marcos.  Singapore is always cited by the loyalists and Duterte followers as an example of what could be, if only we changed the current system.

3) What were the circumstances behind the formulation and ratification of the 1987 Constitution? What was the role of the Left and the Church? Why did we choose to bring back a bicameral Congress?

In short, how did we get to where we are now.  Were the trade offs worth it?

It is questions and discussions like this that will ultimately convince the millenials, or not. Unless we go beyond the fairy tales and morality plays and start to argue the substantive and underyling issues, there can be no satisfactory closure.  Unless we recognize that it is the experience of the past 30 years, including the latter six years under Aquino, that brought us to this point then we will continue to curse blindly at the dark, devoid of illumination.

Unless we ourselves understand and come to grips with history, we will come off to millenials the same way as one of the pop icons of our generation, Madonna (who was incidentally in Manila around the same time as the EDSA commemoration) comes off to them–a bit baduy, nalipasan ng panahon, needing to shock to hold attention, a bit out of touch, insisting shrilly on our timeliness and relevance.

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23 Comments on “Of Madonna and Martial Law”

  1. accomplishments is the name of the game. all leaders are dictators. they dictate what’s good for the country. ran the Bataan Nuclear Plant to see who’s right or wrong … love for the pilipinos.

  2. what’s wrong for fighting communism, oligarchy, and to emancipate farmers on their own land. isn’t it saving motherland. there’s so many things haven’t been said about martial law. who are these claiming they were martial law victims. aren’t they communist lean trying to throw the republic. there’s no civilian casualties during martial law. in the morning of the peoples’ revolt broadcast on tv, six military trucks was intercepted by the yellow army along dewey blvd full of crates filled with US dollars said to be from the central bank. where is it now?

  3. Marcos should not be buried. He must remain preserved in a cryp for generations to come to see for themselves the real hero who fought for the country’s democracy against communism and oligarchy.

    1. He was not fighting communism. At the end of his rule he was fighting the U.S. government, namely the Secretary of State,George Shultz. Marcos also had to worry about the CIA killing his A$$.Marcos was no idiot (in fact he was a manipulative scumbag), he did not want to get dumped on a tarmac either.
      AND the comment about ‘fighting the oligarchy’, W-W-WHAT? Marcos was the Oligarchy, OMG, Banco Pilipinas,PLDT are owned by Marcos money and a whole lot more.

  4. Oh…Madonna…that “material girl”. She is now in her fifties, and still gyrating on stage.

    The EDSA stories are all wrong. The Aquinos , made themselves, heroes. Enrile, Ramos, Honasan, Binay, etc…were just minor players. The major players, were the U.S. C.I.A. , and the U.S. State Department.

    The Aquinos and the rest of their YellowTard minions, were hiding in Cebu. There was even an offer, from one of the U.S. battleship, for them , to take refuge there.

    Marcos requested transportation, to get him to his home province of Ilocos Norte. The U.S. sent a helicopter, with U.S. Gen. Allen in it. The U.S. Department of State, ordered U.S. Gen. Allen, to take Marcos to Hawaii, instead of Ilocos Norte.

    This was the true scenario, during that time. The U.S. Department of State, kidnapped Marcos, and brought him to Hawaii.

    After Marcos was kidnapped; Enrile, Ramos, Honasan, and the rest of their gangs, came out of their hidings, posed for Photo Opportunities, with their guns, and “Rambo image”… Cory Aquino and her YellowTard minions came out , also to declare victory.

    Marcos was then, tried in the U.S. Court…the rest was history.

    This is the true scenario of EDSA…it was not a revolution…it was a coup d’ etat by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. C.I.A. That EDSA Musuem, is telling a fictional story of the heroism of the Aquinos and her minions. It is a false story, perpetuated for political opportunism…

    It was like the situation of Gen. Noriega of Panama. Gen. Noriega, was against the renewing of contract of Panama Canal. And, he refused, to go quietly, like Marcos. So, the U.S. invaded Panama, and took, Gen. Noriega, as prisoner. He was tried in U.S. Court, on “drug charges”, and was imprisoned…The Panama Canal remained in U.S. hands, up to now.

    1. I totally agree with you in that the role of the US is not discussed enough. The removal of support by the US was the key to removing Marcos. As we have seen, US involvement also precipitated the Mamasapano operation.

      1. Mamapasano massacre is like a “thorn in the asses” of Aquino and Mar Roxas. Aquino refused to acknowledge the heroism and sacrifice of the 44 SAF heroes. Mar Roxas called the massacre a “misencounter”…the true casualty here is the Truth.

        Aquino and Mar Roxas are big Liars. They should build a Museum for those 44 SAF heroes.

  5. Accomlishments? after 1987? NONE.
    FACT:
    Marcos was removed by the CIA and George Schultz.The Filipino people were rallied in a stunt that involved a murder(Aquino)and were unwittingly duped into getting rid of the one Man that had there best interests in mind.Although to the outside world it looked differently.

    BUT EVEN OLD FERDIE WAS A SCUMBAG TOO. He thought he could get away with treating alomst everyone(Filipino’s,Western Corporations ,literally anybody) as well as his political enemies any way he liked and he also forgot who his real boss was, not the Filipino people, but his UNCLE SAM….and just when he thought he had things under control and he could tell his UNCLE to ‘piss off’, they roof fell down on his dumb ass.

    Elect another Marcos and you deserve what you get Filipino’s. You want change? Only a grass roots revolution will change anything in that ‘Gates of Hell’ country.

  6. The EDSA stories are all wrong. The Aquinos , made themselves, heroes. Enrile, Ramos, Honasan, Binay, etc…were just minor players. The major players, were the U.S. C.I.A. , and the U.S. State Department.as revealed by John Perkins book in titled”The Economic Hitmen of Marcos Destruction of the Philippines.
    The Aquinos and the rest of their Yellow Hacienda uisita seflinterest minions, were hiding in Cebu. There was even an offer, from one of the U.S. battleship, for them , to take refuge there.
    Marcos requested transportation, to get him to his home province of Ilocos Norte Paoy. The U.S. sent a helicopter, with U.S. Gen. Allen in it. The U.S. Department of State, ordered U.S. Gen. Allen, to take Marcos to Hawaii, instead of Ilocos Norte.
    This was the true scenario, during that time. The U.S. Department of State, kidnapped Marcos, and brought him to Hawaii.
    After Marcos was kidnapped; Enrile, Ramos, Honasan, and the rest of their gangs, came out of their hidings, posed for Photo Opportunities, with their guns, and “Rambo image”… Cory Aquino and her YellowTard minions came out , also to declare victory.
    Marcos was then, tried in the U.S. Court…the rest was history.
    This is the true scenario of EDSA…it was not a revolution…it was a coup d’ etat by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. C.I.A. That EDSA Musuem, is telling a fictional story of the heroism of the Aquinos and her minions. It is a false story, perpetuated for political opportunism…

  7. EDSA1 is the Arab Spring of Yesterday. What is happening to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen?

    Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand (though back today to military rule), China, Taiwan, South Korea, all made the quite transition from military rule to democracy. They are now the tiger economies. We are eating their dust.

    We were so proud of our Arab Spring. Today we are not a tiger economy. EDSA1 now looks like a terrible idea, a nightmare, vis-a-vis the choice of other Asian countries as mentioned not to be proud, but just to be quiet and just do things.

    Philippines don’t do things, they just talk, deliver speeches, make noise, and mistake propaganda as doing things.

  8. Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 was a classic case study of what John Perkins describes in his recent book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, as the post-World War II preferred method of imposing colonial control under another name. In the Philippines case, George Shultz performed the roles of both the economic hit man, destroying and taking full control of the Philippine economy, and the coup-master, deposing the Philippine President in favor of an IMF puppet—while calling the operation “people power.”

    Throughout this process, from the late 1970s through the February 1986 coup, and beyond, Lyndon LaRouche and his collaborators were fully engaged in the fight to expose and reverse this subversion and destruction of one of America’s most important allies, by the supranational financial institutions which Shultz and his ilk represent. By mobilizing support from patriots of both the United States and the Philippines, the LaRouche effort put a spotlight on the crimes of the Shultz cabal, as will be shown below. Although the effort failed to stop the process at that time, the crimes thus exposed in the Philippines can and must serve today as a nemesis to Shultz and his neo-conservative operatives, who are in an endgame in their effort to impose a new fascist order over the planet.

    In a Nov. 16 interview on radio station DZAR in Manila, LaRouche described his own view of the special mission of the Philippines nation: “The Philippines has a very important pivotal role, some people would say geopolitically, in the entire region, of trying to bring together on a global scale for the first time, a world system, which is capable of accommodating both the European cultural heritage and Asian cultures. This is the great barrier, the great frontier, of a hopeful future for this planet: to bring together the cultures of Asia—which are different than those of Western Europe generally—with European

  9. The popular memory of Ferdinand Marcos today, in the U.S. and in the Philippines, is largely shaped by the massive disinformation campaign created in the early 1980s by the circles around then-Secretary of State Shultz, and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz. Marcos was accused of corruption, human rights violations, plunder, and even the murder of a political opponent, Benigno Aquino—and this caricature is repeated ad nauseam still today. While Marcos was not without faults, he was by far the last Filipino head of state to have understood the challenge of true leadership in a world slipping towards chaos. His overthrow by the Shultz cabal had nothing to do with the charges issued publicly, but were intended to stop his national development policies, and his international collaboration with LaRouche and others in countering the genocidal policies of the IMF, and bringing into being a new world economic system based on development and justice.

    Marcos’s True Legacy

    Marcos was elected President in 1965, just as the United States launched the disastrous and futile war in Indochina. The fact that the United States used its bases in the Philippines, Subic Bay and Clark Airfield in Luzon, as launching pads for the Indochina War, fed a domestic insurgency by the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA). Marcos was then treated as a close friend and ally of the United States. Even when he declared martial law in 1972, with the Indochina War still raging, the Administration of President Richard Nixon raised no objections.

    But Marcos was not only concerned about “counterinsurgency” in declaring martial law. When he was elected President in 1965, the Philippines was still essentially a colonial economy, although the United States had granted full independence on July 4, 1946, as had been promised by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934. Productivity was low in both agriculture and industry: agriculture lagged as the Philippines relied on special access to U.S. food exports, and industry was confined to process industries, rather than the development of basic industries.

    Marcos set out immediately to establish Philippine food self-sufficiency in rice and corn. This also required breaking the control of the landed aristocracy left over from the Spanish imperial era. Marcos was the first President of the Philippines who did not rise from this elite class, but was a “commoner” trained as a lawyer.

    As President, he focussed on basic agricultural infrastructure, especially irrigation, in the major food-producing regions of Luzon and Mindanao. Credit facilities, mechanization, and the introduction of high-yield rice varieties, which needed irrigation, resulted in the elimination of rice imports by 1968.

    Land reform, primarily a political problem, remained illusive. However, when Marcos imposed martial law in 1972, among his first acts was a proclamation that the entire nation was to be considered a “land reform area,” and a declaration that all tenants working land devoted primarily to rice and corn were to be the owners of that land, up to a specified limit. Despite the enraged opposition of the oligarchy, the program proved to be extraordinarily successful. Coupled with the infrastructure and mechanization improvements, a quarter of a million peasants became land owners, and grain productivity increased by half.

  10. Apo Lakay Marcos twenty two years of Masagana99 legacy Marcos set out immediately to establish Philippine food self-sufficiency in rice and corn. This also required breaking the control of the landed aristocracy left over from the Spanish imperial era. Marcos was the first President of the Philippines who did not rise from this elite class, but was a “commoner” trained as a lawyer.

    As President, he focussed on basic agricultural infrastructure, especially irrigation, in the major food-producing regions of Luzon and Mindanao. Credit facilities, mechanization, and the introduction of high-yield rice varieties, which needed irrigation, resulted in the elimination of rice imports by 1968.

    Land reform, primarily a political problem, remained illusive. However, when Marcos imposed martial law in 1972, among his first acts was a proclamation that the entire nation was to be considered a “land reform area,” and a declaration that all tenants working land devoted primarily to rice and corn were to be the owners of that land, up to a specified limit. Despite the enraged opposition of the oligarchy, the program proved to be extraordinarily successful. Coupled with the infrastructure and mechanization improvements, a quarter of a million peasants became land owners, and grain productivity increased by half.

  11. Get Real Philippines, expose the Apo lakay Marcos Truth of the Economic Hitmen of Marcos Destruction, Apo lakay has once said to First lady Imelda Marcos, “The Sun will rise Tomorrow, The Truth shall set us Free”, he was referring to Budhas quotes, There are three Things that you cannot hide on Earth, and that is The Sun,The Moon,and The Truth.

  12. We tell lies when we are afraid…afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing we fear grows stronger.

  13. The anti-Aquino opposition is actually divided into five. You have the UNA supporters. These are the people beholden to Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada. There’s also the Marcos supporters, I do need to explain much about this. You also have the supporters of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The fourth group is the left-wing group, led by Rep. Neri Colmenares, Teddy Casino, Renato Reyes, etc. The leftists are those who have accused every single Philippine President of being a U.S. puppet and some are even sympathizers of the Maoist CPP-NPA. The fifth group is the group of total reformists. The people I am labelling as total reformists are those that seek a major overhaul of Philippine politics. You know, those people who are against Marcos, Aquino, Arroyo, Binay, Estrada, and every single person who is in an elective government position. This people want change and they want big change, a thorough revamp of the Philippine government. There’s no way they will collaborate with Binay-Estrada or Marcos or Arroyo forces. They do not want any of the names we have in politics today to remain.

    We cannot defeat the oligarchy if we oppositionists ourselves cannot unite and organize one group. If you can add more groups you know to the five that I enumerated, then that makes things more complicated for the opposition.

  14. Link

    The article at the above link said that the plan by the US to remove Marcos began in 1982, which Enrile confirmed recently – that the EDSA revolution was four years in the planning.

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