I shamefully admit that I was once an admirer of the late President-Dictator Ferdinand Marcos for a brief period after one of my high school friends brainwashed me as he was telling me some promising (but actually deceiving) Marcos stories.
Two years ago, I was taking a bus ride from Tagum City going to Davao City, and I coincidentally met my friend from a neighboring municipality in the Compostela Valley province. This friend who studies Political Science was apparently engrossed with Marcos stories about the Filipino’s ‘admirable discipline’, the country’s booming economy, and the birth of Philippine infrastructures. He was asserting that it was during the dictator’s administration that the Philippines had experienced the ‘Golden Era.’ Although I have previous knowledge about the atrocities that happened during the Martial Law Era, the idea of this once ‘peaceful, progressive’ Philippines engulfed and mesmerized me.
But that was nothing but delusional. Being fed with ‘admirable’ stories without the inclusion of what had cost these so-called ‘achievements’ is intellectually degrading and morally dangerous.
Let us revisit the history of the Philippines back when Spanish colonialism chained Filipinos and when we have torn apart because of foreign intrusions. Their interests infested our country and deprived Filipinos from exercising their fundamental rights as citizens.
Through successive rebellion and revolution, our ancestors succeeded in achieving civil liberty. However, there are still remnants that drive most Filipinos to further long for a ‘perfect and ideal’ country.
The idea of seeking an ideal country to live in regularly springs nowadays. Considering that, today, the Philippines is choking with criminality, government corruption, illegal drug menace, and poor economic standing, most Filipinos wish to escape from these and search for every ‘great’ thing that they could be proud of as citizens. Unfortunately, some Filipinos find Marcos’s achievements as something ‘great’ and worth praising.
“Ferdinand Marcos was the most intelligent and the most brilliant president!”
“The country was peaceful and productive because of the citizens’ discipline!”
“The Philippines was the richest in the Southeast Asia!”
After going through several accounts and flipping history books and newspapers, it was logical to condemn Marcos and his misuse of the Martial Law. I readily changed my perception about him.
These delusional longings once drowned me. It blinded the people to the misconceptions of the past. For them, the idea is a sweet escape from the previous administration’s failures, and it could be a ‘framework’ that the present administration can essentially use to push the country to its ‘Golden Era’ once again.
Now after three years, I unfollowed that person in Facebook after seeing posts primarily fed with ad hominem and nonsequitur arguments. I was ashamed that I had actually clung to his tempting ‘utopia’ Philippines governed by a human rights-violating-dictator. But I would never be ashamed for taking a firm stand after weighing things out.
Since then, from being a Marcos apologist to being a critical citizen, I was taught that we should firmly choose our positions; it’s either you are pro or anti—there is no neutral side. Neutrality is a myth. As what Dante Alighieri said, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”