AND there they were, chanting “Hukayin! Hukayin! Hukayin!” (Dig it up! Dig it up! Dig it up!)
I was not there to see it live, but what I saw on television was enough to horrify me.
Young, impressionable students, as I am sure somewhere in the crowd there were a few of mine whom I endeavored to teach critical theory and research methodology every Tuesday and Thursday for the past three trimesters.
They wanted to dig up the corpse of a dead man they have been taught to hate, to the exhortation of people from my generation who should know better, that our sense of “pakikipagkapwa” puts a limit to that hatred the moment a person dies.
In that moment, “kapwa” lost to blind rage. The only indication onecould get of their youth was their laughter. But still the rage was terrifying.
I used to think that we teach our children fear and blind obedience.
We lull them to sleep with lullabies of fear and melancholy. One lullaby from the Visayas tells babies to sleep since their father is away. Another one from Bicol is most horrifying, where a child asks his parents to cut off his head and throw it in the lake if he were a bad child.
And we match this with a barrage of nursery rhymes of eggs falling from a wall, to Jack and Jill rolling down a hill, and cap it up with fairy tales full of witches and ogres, and big bad wolves.
Through these narratives we scare our children to sleep, and fear becomes their entertainment. As a result, fear ends up as the default feeling, and not courage, and heroism becomes a rare commodity when the going gets rough.
We also deny our children the ability to make choices, by turning them into obedient wards. We make them wear jackets because we feel cold, without asking them if they too feel cold. We turn them into the redemption of our dreams and inflict on them our frustrations as would-be ballerinas, violin players, and football superstars by forcing them to attend ballet, violin and football lessons. We force them to wear clothes because we think they are cute, even if they feel horrible. We ask them to perform for our friends to show them off and proclaim what lucky parents we are without even asking our children if they are fine wearing a clown dress, or singing the theme song from “Annie.”
How I wish that we could rear our children to be more courageous and critical thinkers, to wean them away from the horrifying lullabies, the fearsome nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and the regimented lives within which we have boxed them in the guise of parental love and care.
But to be courageous doesn’t mean to be disrespectful. To be a critical thinkergoes beyond simply believing in a narrative critical of one person or historical period because it is the preferred version.
The millennial and post-millennial generations engage a world where information has freely circulated, and where expertise has become diffuse. It is supposed to be an exciting domain to explore and empower one’s self, except that it has descended into a post-factual landscape where truth no longer comes from scientific authority, but one that is now constructed from posts in social media.
It is easy to accuse Marcos loyalists and Duterte fanatics of being the bearers of fakery and historical revisionism in social media, and that they are crude and vulgar, but one just has to look at the placards being carried by the young anti-Marcos burial demonstrators to realize that Marcos and Duterte critics are as guilty. Likening Marcos to Hitler is a historical fallacy. But you see this repeatedly displayed in placards. The hashtag #MarcosNoHero has been prominently carried even if no one is asserting that he is. Trolling appears to have spilled over into protest rallies and placardswith cuss words and personal insults replacing politically sensible slogans.
In all of these, civility and respect have taken a hit. Former students disrespect their former professors who disagree with them. Colleagues bash each other. Friendships crumble.
The responsibility rests with the older and teaching generations to instill critical thinking to the young. We should teach to negate the effects of lullabies and nursery rhymes of fear, and of regimented obedience.
But what I saw during the so-called“Black Friday”rally was an indication that we have failed miserably.
The pain and anger of my generation who suffered under Martial Law are now used to teach the young how to hate, even as we teach them history as if it is just about the perversions of one man.
“Hukayin! Hukayin! Hukayin!”
Never in our history have we seen a collective exhortation to desecrate the dead, that in order to feel good about giving Marcos a collective dirty finger for the monster that he was, we strip our young of theirsense of “pakikipagkapwa.”