With Martial Law being commemorated on September 21 when many historians say it really should be commemorated on September 23, it’s very clear that historical revisionism has long been in action. The Marcos regime had a thing for multiples of seven, and pretending this “historic” moment happened on September 21, a multiple of seven, instead of September 23, which only benefits Michael Jordan, is a slap in the face of a well-crafted narrative that doesn’t like things like facts and the truth getting in the way.
We’ve written so much about this moment in history, you’d be right to ask why we’re writing another one. The answer should be obvious: because they’re at it again. Who’s “they?” The people who are trying to pretend Martial Law was NBD when the reality is, it really was. And because they have zero new arguments to present in this never-ending debate, we have no choice but to tackles a bunch of stuff we’ve tackled so many times and so many writers before here on the 8List alone.
Yes, nation: it bears repeating. You know what doesn’t bear repeating, though? The horrors and ordeals our nation went through during Martial Law. Because no matter what they want you to believe, those horrors did happen. Plenty of people lived through it and are still around to tell the tale. Heck, there are still people who were alive during World War II who can still talk about it to this day, so something that happened a couple of decades later is easy peasy.
8. The Argument: Martial Law led to a golden age.
What golden age are we talking about here? An economic golden age? We’ve discussed this before: it wasn’t.
By the time he was president, the peso was already valued at P3.70 to $1. By the time he left office, it went into a freefall as we ended up at around P20 to $1. That’s almost 600% worse than when he started off, and the public records are all there.
Was it a golden age of peace and order? How? 100,000 human rights violations on record say that’s not true.
Was it a golden age of culture and the arts? Well, you could argue that — except the most powerful works of art from that period were the subversive ones. You know, the ones that took shots at the government, oftentimes veiled via metaphor and allusion.
7. The Argument: It only hurt a small fraction of the population, who were communists anyway.
Just as it is today, activism is conveniently being mislabeled as communism. On that basis alone, we already know that the “war” against communism has always been a sham since day one then, and even more so is it today. History has a habit of repeating its greatest hits. We call them “drug pushers” today, we called them “communists” during the Marcos era, and we called them the Jews during World War II.
Scapegoats. That’s what these people were. Scapegoats for a populist movement that wasn’t even trying to set itself apart from how the Nazis did it back then. And let’s face it: this is pretty much the closest thing we have to the Nazis. Did they also need to kill 6 million Filipinos just for us to think they were irredeemable? Because they sure as heck persecuted and killed more than enough Filipinos during their time, and not a few of them were anything but communists. Are you seriously suggesting that the guy who owned ABS-CBN, y’know, an obvious capitalist who loves capitalism because it made him rich beyond his wildest dreams, is somehow a communist?
6. The Argument: If you hate Marcos so much, stop using his infrastructures.
Our infrastructures, you mean? The ones our taxes paid for? They didn’t pay for those buildings out of their own pocket, lest we forget.
‘Sides, that argument is moot when we consider how many Marcos loyalists are homophobic yet use computers. Alan Turing was gay, and he pretty much invented the computer. So get off the computer if this is how you’re going to argue.
Besides, guess what is the go-to play of every single dictator in history. If you guessed “infrastructure,” well ding ding ding! We have a winner. Not only are infrastructures obvious ways to signpost they’re doing something, it’s also the easiest to steal money from. And if you’ve been in power for 20 frigging years, well damn, you had better have something to show for it. But no amount of infrastructure will ever be enough to wash away the blood this regime spilt.
5. The Argument: There’s no proof that the Marcoses stole anything.
The Marcoses didn’t just get convicted by the Philippine Government in 2018 when it wasn’t an Aquino in power – Marcos is also validated as a Guiness World Record holder for most money stolen from a government. And yes, an American court upheld the liability of the Marcoses over countless human rights violations.
These three instances do not feature dilawans or anyone who just wants to uphold the Marcos – Bad, Aquino – Good (or vice versa) false dichotomy. These are neutral instances where the Marcoses were irrefutably verified as having plundered this country. To pretend that these devastating decisions were “dilawan-influenced” in both times and places where dilawans clearly have no influence whatsoever is just laughable.
4. The Argument: Things only got worse after his term.
We got liberty back, we have accomplished at least three notable economic booms in the period since the country left Martial Law (Ramos, GMA, Aquino III), and we’ve so far yet to ever put a Marcos back in Malacanang. So no, it’s not worse.
If anything, it could have been even better. Germany knew that the only way to make sure Nazism never became a force to be reckoned with again was to actively disempower it every step of the way, down to making Nazi gestures illegal in an otherwise free country. If we did that, we wouldn’t have to put up with the same thing Americans do whenever a bunch of Southerners want to put up their Confederate flag as a “patriotic” gesture — despite the fact that Confederates wanted to secede from the United States in the first place. The only reason the Marcoses are back is because we stupidly let them come back.
3. The Argument: Were you even born during Martial Law?
My parents were, and they sure as hell hated it. Oh, what? That’s anecdotal? Well, so would be anyone citing their grandparents and saying these oblivious people saw Martial Law as a “peaceful” time.
Besides, any of us here who were there when Jesus was alive? Yet the vast majority of us are Catholics? Huh. Go figure.
2. The Argument: The sins of the father are not the sins of the children
From “no evidence the Marcoses ever stole anything,” we now concede that the father had sins.
Let’s pretend that’s the argument here, and let’s pretend it’s valid (it’s not). So why are we attributing the father’s infrastructures to his son? If you can’t hold Ferdinand Marcos’s sins against Bongbong, then why would the reverse, FM’s “accomplishments,” suddenly count? You can’t have it both ways.
And again, it’s not even valid that the sins of the father do not pass on to the children. Not when those “sins” come in the form of ill-gotten wealth they still haven’t given back to us after all this time. They still benefit from stolen property. Ergo, they are still beneficiaries of Ferdinand Marcos’s (documented and proven) crimes.
1. The Argument: Why can’t we all just move on?
Remember the last time your ex told you this? Quick question: did they ask you to get back together, too?
Hmmm, that’s odd, isn’t it? Moving on means you don’t go back to the same old shit. So why would us “moving on” from Martial Law mean we should give the Marcoses another chance? They said it themselves: let’s move on, and say “hell, no!”
And yes, just because it’s so painfully obvious I couldn’t even dignify it as its own entry: I can hate the Marcoses and also not be a fan of the Aquinos at the same time. There’s more than just two choices to this.
Remember guys, #NeverAgain. Register to vote while you still have time: