Seeing how the recently launched campaign season took over almost everything we could lay our eyes on, the media once again reminded us of its crucial role in this critical time. Motorcades, protests, television advertisements, and even intriguing celebrities campaigning for their electoral bets fill my social media timelines. The most intriguing yet is Toni Gonzaga’s involvement in the Marcos-Duterte campaign kickoff, clearly showing where she sides on the political fence.
If I had spoken aloud about how problematic her move was, the older generations would have been quick enough to crucify me, rubbing it in my face that I am merely a young adult who can speak for herself. But if I had chosen to agree that the act was harmless, what makes me any different from Gonzaga?
While we live in a democratic country that allows us to support politicians and leaders we deemed “worthy,” clearly somebody has to draw the line between harmlessly supporting and outright enabling. Let us be honest; these two are very much different things. When you are someone as influential as Toni Gonzaga herself, you have a responsibility to all Filipinos to use justly the platform you were given, not encourage the very system that perpetuates oppression. Looking back, after shamelessly participating in the revising of history during her interview with Marcos Jr., Gonzaga reeks of nothing but a brazen, privileged enabler.
Platform and power are things you do not hand over to a dictator’s son who has greatly benefited from the inhumane atrocities brought about by his father’s regime. Apart from the lies he constantly tells and the vast amount of money he stole, he even has the nerve to be unapologetic to any wrongdoings, claiming that such atrocities never existed in the first place. While free speech enables us to speak to whoever we want and say whatever we please, specific individuals could also manipulate it to create their selfish agenda. It is free speech, after all, that allows people to revise history on their own terms.
Another thing, do apologists have anything else to say besides spitting their “utopic” Philippines and the nation’s “Golden era” repetitive script? Telling me how our history books lied and are not enough to encapsulate what exactly happened during that time—they’re right. History books indeed are genuinely not enough to sum up everything the people went through during Marcos’ administration. Everything these apologists stand for is solely based on the fact that Marcos heavily focused on benefits, but not the side effects that, in essence, were more powerful and destructive.
No amount of money and industrialization can hide the numerous human rights violations executed by the so-called “hero” that everyone claimed the dictator to be. Approximately 70,000 individuals were imprisoned, 34,000 cases of unthinkable torture, and 3,240 were killed (Tiongson, 1997) during his dictatorship. The data may vary, but these statistics are not just numbers. They are thousands of lives lost and families destroyed by militarization. The human rights violations happened, and they were real.
Now tell me why infrastructures are more than enough to compensate for the cruel treatment the Filipinos went through.
A student journalist like myself believes that everything in life is either black or white. Either we recognize the overall failures of our current systems, or we don’t. Either we heed the unspoken sufferings of the enormous amounts of people, or we don’t. Either we wake up and make the necessary changes possible, or we don’t. That is as black or white as it gets because there are no grey areas for survival. Like how The 1975’s song goes, “Now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.” I do not speak for pink, and I certainly do not speak for red.
I speak for the countless who are left silenced, even if my voice shakes.