Thursday, April 14, 2011

Part One: Thoughts about giving former President Ferdinand Marcos a heroes burial

I was born in 1971 and most of my childhood was spent during the latter years of President Ferdinand Marcos' second decade.

I have to admit that if the Marcos' Administration's propaganda was in anyway effective, I was subjected to much of it as a child.

I went to grade school at JASMS - Philippine Women's University and it was run within the PWU system which was founded by Ms. Helena Benitez, reportedly one of Imelda Marcos' blue ladies.

I sang the Bagong Lipunan song every morning, saw movies that depicted Marcos as a hero, had teachers who taught us that whatever Marcos was doing was good, and we were encouraged, in ways, to aspire to the excellence embodied by our leader.

I can't remember how many times we went to the CCP in a year to watch "kiddie plays" and one that I can remember quite vividly is the play about the mythical "Bernardo Carpio".

According to the play, Bernardo Carpio was the son of royalty and gifted with great strength.  His lineage and right to take the throne was hidden from him, forcing him to live among the peasants and was bound to servitude like the rest.  At some point, he discovers his royal lineage and struggles to free his people.  He is, however, tricked into going into a cave and there he was magically bound between two boulders.  Carpio had a choice to either let go of the two boulders and save himself but cause a cataclysm that would kill thousands of his people, or, remain between the boulders.  

The play ended with the narrator extolling Bernardo Carpio's heroic choice of suffering between the boulders for eternity so that his people may live.  It was also said that should people find him within the mountain and take on the task of keeping the two boulders from ramming into one another, this would free Bernardo Carpio and "the enslavement and oppression of the Filipino race will be replaced with freedom and happiness."

(In later years I would learn that this legend, or at least the classical telling of the legend, was reference to by Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.)

Anyway, during my grade school years we were also taught that next to the Bombays who lurked behind every street corner, we were told that Communists would grab us and have us toil in the fields if ever we misbehaved.  We were told that Communists were evil and Godless, that if ever they did succeed in taking over the government, everyone would be subjected to toiling in the fields or breaking rocks underneath the hot sun.

Sometimes, at the end of the school day, I'd walk together with my elder sister to the Manila City Hall where my father worked.  It was a long walk along Taft Avenue, but still, a pleasant one on afternoons and there was hardly any threat of getting mugged at all.

The only time we were told that it would be dangerous to walk the length of Taft Avenue to City Hall was when there were rallies.

When Marcos was ousted in 1986, I was already finishing my first year of Highschool and at the start of my Second Year in highschool, we started studies on Social Sciences where -- as you can guess -- we were taught about how wonderful the EDSA revolution was.

Every month there was one kind of big to-do centered around the glories of EDSA 1986.  There were film screenings on the life and speeches of Ninoy Aquino.  There were essay contests on Freedom and there were all sorts of other things that basically said that the Aquino government would set everything right.

By the time I finished high school in 1989 and started my first year in college, almost everything that the Aquino government had promised back then didn't happen.

When I finished college in 1993, things weren't a whole lot better but I was already working in the businesses of a couple of friends and getting paid to do some writing.

In 1995 or 1996, I started working in Malacanang as a writer for the Presidential Broadcast Staff (RTVM) and things by then seemed to be a whole lot better.  It seemed that more money was going around and there were a lot of big businesses starting up.

From 1997 to 1998, things had gotten so good that people at the office were actually getting more than one job -- not because they needed it, but because there was such a huge demand for people in video production.  I got my share of those jobs and that was actually the time when I got my first stint working in Jose De Venecia's Presidential Campaign.

My impression at that time was that interest in the Marcoses and their supposed ill-gotten wealth had died down.

What was quite amusing about that time, between Aquino's assumption as President and Ramos' Election, were the stories that bubbled up about how one Aquino crony ended up getting huge favors from the government.

One story and I don't know if it's true was that one of Imelda Marcos' Blue Ladies who is also a member of the Cojuanco clan had ended up with some of the former first lady's jewelry.  And it is this story, perhaps, more than any other story that for me, characterized the spirit of change that swept the country from 1986 to 1998.

This entitlement to the spoils of the revolution or victory was one of the things that marked every change in the country's leadership.

Like a bunch of pigs fighting over the trough, the only thing that changed were the pigs but everyone was still fighting over the trough.  Political culture didn't evolve beyond pig-hood.

Oh... and it's happening... yet... again.  Same shit, different President.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...