It is utterly depressing that for such recent history, and with so many of Martial Law’s victims and survivors still alive and well, speaking up and screaming at the top of their lungs, that here we are divided about the burial of one Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Worse, that the Supreme Court would be so divided as well, right down the middle if we are to believe the grapevine, with seven-for and seven-against the burial of the dictator at the heroes’ cemetery.

The President and history
Ironically, this is all happening under one President Duterte, who invokes history all the time.

With him as President, we have had a history lesson on the purported “discovery” of the Philippines by Magellan. Instead the President champions Lapu-Lapu, the first native to fight a colonizer.

“I will raise to level, to the stature of a hero si Lapu-Lapu. He was the first native who fought and even killed the imperialists, si Magellan. To honor his feat <…> Lapu-Lapu should be given the highest honor. Siya ang unang nakipagbakbakan eh kasi ginawa lang nila si Lapu-Lapu na isda and I do not like it.” (GMANewsOnline, 16 May)

When the President invoked the 1906 massacre at Bud Dajo of 600 to 800 Moros (depending on which account you’re looking at), women and children included, it was to remind us all of a forgotten, often silenced historical fact: that America subjugated the Philippines, not just through “benevolent assimilation” but also through outright violence, as with Mindanao.

And no, the declarations of President Duterte against America are not just about this one event, as it is rooted in a very clear sense of how this relationship we’ve kept with America has been unjust and unfair all these years. It is not to endanger the lives of our family and friends who live and work in America, as it is to point out a historical injustice wrought by one country over another.

I’ve said it before and I say it again: there is value in having a President who actually takes this stance about America at this point in time. What a great opportunity this is to discuss nation better and deal more honestly with why we think the way we do about America, and freedom, and nation.

The Marcoses and history
Like President Duterte, the Marcoses were also preoccupied with history.

Unlike President Duterte, the Marcoses did not seek to articulate what has been silenced by history, neither did they want to use history to build our nation’s identity.

Instead the Marcoses manipulated history. They wanted to ensure that it would be a narrative of how Ferdinand and Imelda were the saviors of nation, if not the representation of our roots in Malakas and Maganda. They wanted Ferdinand to go down in history as a war hero, so they pretended he had earned all those war medals – all debunked by the officers he served under. They tried – and failed – to erase Imelda’s past, whatever was there that she found embarrassing or shameful.

And even as we now know about how Marcosian history was but propaganda to justify the dictatorship, we also know that the corruption and patronage politics that the Marcoses practically institutionalized ensured that the history in our textbooks and school curricula would be kind to the conjugal dictatorship regardless.

Regardless of the thousands who were victims of Martial Law. Regardless of the voices of the survivors of torture and rape and abuse during the dictatorship. Regardless of the films and documentaries, the historical accounts and testimonials about the oppressive and repressive, violent and abusive Marcos years.

To the Marcoses, history was a way of painting a pretty picture of their dark reign over the nation. With their cronies maintaining a stronghold over government all these years, it was easy to keep this bogus narrative alive and well.

It’s really no different from the colonial narratives that keep us believing that Magellan “discovered” the Philippines, and that the US has always treated us as equals.

Presidential irony
Which is why it’s ironic that President Duterte would stand for this kind of historical revisionism that the Marcoses have stood for all these years, which is to culminate in this burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

It is ironic because this is in fact no different from the kind of revised history that the US colonial enterprise made us believe, so that we might forget the massacre of Moros in Bud Dajo, and so we might turn a blind eye to America’s unfair treatment of us all these years.

In a little over 100 days, President Duterte has shown us how important history is, how critical he is of the way it is told, what it silences, what we are being made to forget. He has reminded us that history in fact is about stories being told in favor of one narrative, one narrator. He is teaching us that there are many forces that work toward the telling of the same histories over and over again, until we actually believe one story to be true.

This is what the Marcoses have been doing, and it is beyond me why President Duterte does not stand squarely against this telling of history that erases and silences the experience of thousands of the Marcos dictatorship’s victims.

They are no different from the Moros massacred by Americans in Bud Dajo. And as the President stands for those lives lost in the hands of Americans, it behooves him to stand as well for those lives lost in the hands of one Ferdinand Marcos, dictator.



  1. ferdinand naboye on

    people are always talking about their allege claims of violations during martial law. to these people do you believe in the rule of law. why then for the past 30 years that past you were not able to file a case in the supreme court against marcos and you have all the blessing of the yellow team.

  2. Were you born only yesterday, Ms. Katrina Santiago? Didn’t you know that the yellow media have controlled the dissemination of information all these thirty years since 1986, and that all they have done is to demonize Marcos? Then how come 16 million Filipinos still voted for the son Bongbong in spite of all the yellow demonization of the late President? Let me tell you why. The Filipino people are not as stupid as you (the yellow horde) think they are. They have seen through the lies of your ilk and they have (thanks largely to the internet) educated themselves about what it was really like during the Martial Law years. They have come to the conclusion and rightly so that those years were the golden age of the Philippines and that is notwithstanding whatever the likes of you in the noisy Yellow minority say.

  3. Speaking of history, the Moros have a history of being genocidal themselves, as slavers and pirate raiders they decimated any coastal village, they were the scourge of Christianized settlements in the Visayas and the Luzon for centuries.

    So its not surprising that many Filipinos did not care about what happened, ironically more prominent Americans were appalled and did more to speak-out against the Bud-Dajo massacre than Filipinos at the time. Chief among them was Samuel Clemens, we know him better as Mark Twain, who formed the Anti-Imperialist American League because of the massacres in the Philippines which he reported in his writings.

    Now the communist insurgency continued to kill Filipinos long after Marcos and Martial law, how do you reconcile their role in all this bloodshed in our history?

  4. KSS Thank you and I leave two quotes from a favorite freedom fighter and politician par non: Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon. There is no future without forgiveness. __ Nelson Mandela

  5. I’d have no problem believing your claim of “America’s unfair treatment of us all these years”, if you’ll provide a list of concrete examples supporting it. And while you’re at it, gawa ka rin ng list enumerating the positive things (for PH) that came out of the two countries’ alliance, “friendship”, whatever you want to call it. Tapos timbangin natin ang dalawang listahan. Your claim is supported with nothing but your own opinion–kulang sa verifiable facts. It carries no weight, it’s just fluff.

  6. Katrina, question for you, of all the 986 cases filed by both US and Philippine governments how many succeeded in prosecuting the Marcoses ?
    By the way, why not ask Enrile and Ramos about Martial Law violations.

  7. Why? Unity, to move on in history, and simply to follow the law? Is this not enough reason? Why unity? Because it is the wish of many Ilocanos. Moving on – this is festering issue for several decades, which needs a closure. Follow the law – he is a soldier, and it is a cemetery for soldiers. Ilibing na diyan kasi, and let us go on with our lives. Tapos.

  8. Typical anti-Marcos propaganda, everything you said here against the Marcos and Imelda are not backed by facts at all. The yellow political narrative paints Marcos as a a scoundrel, but that narrative is so structured that Marcos was a scoundrel only if your Ninoy Aquino was a real hero. Tell me, do you know who really bombed Plaza Miranda?

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