By Marivir R. Montebon
The way politics is getting so heated up in the Philippines is both welcome and disturbing, as it is here in the US. The economic grip is just way too much to handle, and people are tired of the same old promises that never get fulfilled. Millennials are bearing the brunt of a bleak future, either being jobless or underemployed, and worse, feeling quite hopeless.
But to wish for the return of the Marcoses (with a skewed reasoning that they are far better compared to the other leaders) in national leadership is scary and simply misguided. Please – you have no idea of how it is going back to the darkest days of military abuse and shutting down of media and social organizations.
You do not want the state of a nation where you cannot speak your ideas publicly or on Facebook, or when you cannot gather as a group for fear of reprisal. These taken for granted freedoms must be protected. You cannot give it back to the Marcoses, or anyone wanting dictatorial rule because he or she believes that problems can be solved in a mercenary way.
There were thousands of people who died for our freedom, and I memorialize the fallen Sen. Benigno Aquino whose brutal murder has not been meted justice today, as well as thousands of others.
It is not that things are better today, young people. In fact, militarization has been rampant, including drug trade, human trafficking, economic crisis, poverty, corruption, and environmental plunder. All the complicated, interrelated woes are in the Philippines.
But the answer to the long-drawn problems begins with democracy, through the open discussion of ideas and actions, not a dictatorial rule. Come to think of it, the Philippines is ran by oligarchic families and big businesses, and unless people are aware of their rights and put their acts together, the same system will prevail over us.
Development begins from the bottom – from the person, to family, the village, the city, and consequently to the nation. So young people, forget about looking at the Marcoses (and their allies) as the savior of the country. No no no. Please remember, meaningful change is in your hands and it depends on how responsibly you act to make things better.
It is election time, and once again, the traditional politicians and oligarchs are taking center stage, sweet talking to woo your votes and buy your votes, to be in power and continue the same old system of power monopoly and corruption.
Wisen up please, and wisen up fast. Now is the time to be more thoughtful, more introspective, more engaging, and forward looking. Finally, do not be deceived. Be careful what you wish for.
I was in kindergarten when Martial Law was declared by Pres. Marcos on September 21, 1972. I faintly remembered there was chaos on the streets that day. I saw people marching and shouting, passing by our house in downtown Cebu. All my aunts and uncles who were in college and living with us at that time were home early, with curfew set at 6 o’clock in the evening.
They simply told me that the police will put people in jail if they were not home by 6 PM that day. That made me anxious, waiting for my parents to be home before 6 or they would be in jail! I cried during Martial Law for that.
Because media was clamped during Martial Law, the Marcoses only perpetuated the government sanctioned newspapers. So no one knew to what extent summary killings have occurred. Until one day, the excesses were too much to contain and the people began to revolt.
I took an active part in the anti-dictatorship movement when I was in college, as a writer, and saw the downfall of the dictator. We gained admiration and respect for our bravery as a nation.
How well we realized the causes of our economic and political problems and put in solutions is another story. After we gained our freedom, I totally agree that we just wasted much of it. But going back to the Marcoses is not the key solution.
I believe it doesn’t only take a clear visionary leadership to put forward a development agenda for the Philippines, it also takes a politically mature people to demand for it and work on it. Young people, I hope you will be interested in the affairs of the state – check out on research-based agro-industrialization, federalism, environmentally sound projects, local industry-based entrepreneurship, research and development for energy and pharmaceuticals, and an education system that promotes creativity and critical-mindedness instead of submission and mechanization of our brains.
The Philippines’ rebirthing process is painfully slow. But I believe in always being vigilant in protecting our freedom. Freedom is the beginning of real discussion and action for justice and development we all so deserve.