ATENEANS marched the street of Katipunan, not once, not twice, but thrice this year as the news about the dictator Ferdinand Marcos being buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani reached campus. Together with representatives from UP and Miriam, thousands of students and teachers showed their outrage that Marcos, a president who damaged our economy for personal gain, a president who was the cause of the suffering of so many Filipinos, was going to be buried at the burial site of our heroes. It seemed surreal. How can the government so easily forget? Marcos gets a hero’s burial while some martial law victims are still in unmarked graves. When President Duterte asked people to “move on” and “forgive” it only opened up old wounds. Without even an apology from the Marcos family that plundered our nation, we cannot truly move on. Forgiveness demands justice.
With 70,000 people imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,257 dead at the hands of the Marcos regime, after all the terrible things that he did to our beloved country, how can one call him a great president, let alone a hero?
Facebook commentators are quick to call Ateneans “yellowtards” for being anti-Marcos, but contrary to what these Marcos loyalists believe, I do not simply see this as a war between Marcos and Aquino. This was, and continues to be, a fight of the Filipino people for their right to freedom. When we protest, we stand with neither Marcos nor Aquino. We stand for the Philippines. We stand for the thousands of who were tortured and killed during martial law. We stand for those who are still in poverty to this day, so that the Marcos family can send their children to boarding school in England and have fancy jewelry. We stand for those whose families were broken up, those who lost parents, and those who lost children. The Philippines does not deserve this. Thirty years after a bloodless revolution that brought down a dictator, the Duterte administration buries that dictator as a hero. Heroes, like President Magsaysay and Ninoy Aquino, are buried with the support of a nation that honors them, with crowds of people mourning their loss–not hidden like a thief and protected from the wrath of the people by the police. The way in which the burial itself took place already says a lot about what the public’s perception of President Marcos is.
Marcos being laid to rest in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a burial site for heroes who died out of love for the Philippines, is like a slap in the face of everyone who stood at EDSA praying the rosary for the freedom of our nation from a dictator and a spin on the grave of every imprisoned and tortured victim of the martial law era. The government hiding this from the people and their outright denial of knowing this would happen is a great injustice. It hurts me to see the lack of shame of the Marcos family. It made me long to not be Filipino for a second, to live in a country like Japan where if government officials are caught doing what is unjust, they step down out of shame. Like how the samurais in ancient times committed hara-kiri, a form of ritual suicide by disembowelment, when they bring shame to themselves. But I realized that we must continue to fight the good fight, because when one is not angry about all the wrong things happening in the world, they are part of the problem.
The historical revisionism of this act of allowing Marcos’ remains to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the message that our president sends to the Filipino people by having this done has left me heartbroken.
On one hand, I am disappointed that some of my countrymen are so quick to forget, and it is said that those who forget history are often doomed to repeat it. There are many who still believe that those who are fighting against Marcos are doing so because we are “brainwashed” by the Yellow side. There are so many who deny the victims of this terrible era.
On the other hand, I am proud of my school. I am proud that the administration encouraged the students and professors to hold off class for one day to stand for what is right. I am proud to see my fellow Ateneans truly be “men and women for others,” and speak for those who cannot. I am proud to see them stand up for the victims of martial law and continue to go against injustices, even though it is not the easiest thing. I am proud to see them unite with others in One Big Fight. As our parents and grandparents took to the streets in 1986, we do so too. It gives me hope that my generation is one that will continue to fight against injustice, even when it feels like hope is lost.
Camille Jimenez is a 4th year AB Interdisciplinary Studies student at the Ateneo de Manila University.