Those who don’t read history, are condemned to repeat it. This is the curse bedeviling the Philippines. Historical revisionism. It wasn’t until Teodoro Agoncillo wrote the History of the Filipino People did we become aware of the betrayals of the leaders of the Philippine Revolution. Emilio Aguinaldo ordering the murder of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna being the most prominent. Next is the sellout to the Spaniards and, later on, the Americans. We do have a warped concept of history because we celebrate Independence Day on June 12 instead of July 4, which is actually incorrect again, because the Americans continued to lord it over their former colony until 1991, which was the only time they actually left.
Our psyche as a people and a country is damaged because we haven’t addressed the root of our dysfunction; we need to come to terms with the reality that we only have a few legitimate heroes and most of them are unrecognized because they were never part of the ruling elite. World War II devastated and destroyed our country. We were caught in the middle of two competing powers in the Asia-Pacific region. History tells us that General Douglas MacArthur’s staff had recommended the Americans take Formosa as the jump-off point to bringing the war to the Japanese. But MacArthur, with his pride and vanity, wanted to fulfill his promise of returning to liberate the Filipinos. And so the country was left reeling after the war because MacArthur was done with the Philippines and his focus was on Japan, which became a de facto American colony. This was why Emperor Hirohito was never made to account for his role during World War II.
The Americans never came up with a Marshall Plan for the Philippines. There was no massive reconstruction effort. It even pared down to the bare minimum the reparations the Japanese had to pay. It still controlled politics and the economy. It wasn’t until Ferdinand Marcos became President twenty years after that the true reconstruction of what was destroyed, began. It was Marcos who had the vision of what the Philippines should be as an independent nation. It was the most prosperous in the region before the war and he wanted that stature back. We could’ve taken the lead but instead, we were left behind by our neighbors once they obtained their independence from their colonial masters.
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Today’s “activists” lay all the blame at the feet of Marcos even 56 years after he became President. This week, for example, is marked by the latest outrage fad cooked up by the Opposition involving actress Toni Gonzaga’s interview of Bongbong Marcos on her YouTube channel. The shrill indignation of their thought leaders is articulated by blogger Katrina Stuart-Santiago in her piece “Toni, Bongbong, history and #Halalan2022” where she writes of Gonzaga’s “shameless” work “right on the month of Martial Law commemoration, in utter disregard for the thousands killed, the thousands more who live with its trauma, and the millions plundered by the Marcoses that all of us have suffered for.”
This is about her decision to use her platform for a person who has made a living, has built his wealth, on the back of the Filipino people. This is about using her platform to allow a person to continue to revise history, to change what is true and factual about the Martial Law years and the Marcos dictatorship. This is about her decision to paint a picture of “humanity” out of a dictator, a man under whose leadership the Philippines’ resources and wealth were plundered, under whose tyranny thousands were tortured and killed, under whose cronyism corruption and abuse by oligarchs were condoned.
Think again, Ms Stuart-Santiago — this time beyond the little square that frames the thinking of typical Filipino “activists” such as yourself. Marcos declared martial law not to stay in power but because the Opposition then forced his hand to do so because of the communist insurgency and Muslim secessionists who were organized by Ninoy Aquino against him. Marcos’s original plan to stay in power longer than what was allowed by the 1935 Constitution was to amend it. It is for this reason that he convened the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
The Malolos Congress adopted a parliamentary form of government. Marcos wanted a return to that. The Opposition in control of the legislature had stymied his vision through gridlock which is how Ninoy Aquino made a name for himself when he became a Senator. If Aquino didn’t think of sicced the Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist arm the New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on the government, would Marcos have any reason to declare martial law when he already initiated the process by which the 1935 Constitution could be amended? What would have been the outcome if he wasn’t forced into declaring martial law? He would’ve been able to extend his term definitely. But the country would’ve had a functioning democracy by way of the parliamentary system and there was no way Marcos could’ve prevented the Opposition from running for elective posts.
Marcos learned from experience that the legislature could still pose as a stumbling block which is why he gave the President the power to legislate by executive fiat with a Presidential Decree. Up to today, none of these that he issued have been overturned because they were crafted by the best legal minds he could enlist at that time. The economic performance of the country at that time was hampered by the prevailing geopolitical order. The US economy was suffering from stagflation as result of oil price shocks due to conflict in the Middle East. The US broke the covenant of Bretton-Woods and took the dollar off the gold standard in a bid to revive its economy by establishing the dollar as fiat currency. Developing countries were at the mercy of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (IMF-WB). The US couldn’t go to war because of the debacle in Vietnam so it resorted to financial hegemony.
One cannot turn a blind eye to the excesses of the Marcos family. But this is what hubris does to any human being. The difference was, despite this hubris, a plan was still in place. Would we be able to host APEC and the ASEAN Summit without the infrastructure Marcos built? Would we have been able to cope with the pandemic without the hospitals Marcos built? Would the national capital region be as congested as it is now if the Metro Manila Development Plan was implemented after Marcos was ousted? Marcos wasn’t all good but he wasn’t all bad either. The question we need to answer is, can we say the same of the post-Marcos administrations when the “good and the righteous” were in power? These “good and righteous” are all agog again because of one interview. Ang OA.
The truth is, we still have corruption in our midst. We still have cronies and oligarchs. We have the large and bumbling bureaucracy. We have free speech and a biased media. We have the culture of mediocrity and asininity cultivated by ABS-CBN. We replaced tehcnocrats in government with unqualified morons. We have entertainers as Senators. This is what we have gained from the “icons of freedom and democracy” that is the Aquino family. We have not been better off since 1986 through 2016. This is why Rodrigo Duterte is President.
What scares the “good and the righteous” the most is the big slap on their collective faces if and when Ferdinand Marcos Jr. becomes President. They are all agitated over one interview because this would be the final confirmation of their failure and the repudiation of the “freedom and democracy” that the Aquino’s have been packaged to represent. This is history passing judgment on Marcos and the Opposition don’t like its verdict.
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