Sunday, March 22, 2009

A likely fiction

I’VE lived a long life.

My mother, who knows I still am months away from turning 44 and years away from surpassing her golden years, will wonder why I wrote that line.

But after last Friday, I feel worn, confused, weary.

After last Friday, when a Marcos visited Cebu to gauge his “chances of winning a national elective position,” I feel the curse of the old: to witness again the same sorry history, all the costly lessons forgotten, mistakes repeated as if they never were.

According to Oscar C. Pineda’s Mar. 21 report in Sun.Star Cebu, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bong-bong” Marcos Jr. visited Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes last Mar. 20. The son of the late dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos, vowed that if he ran and won, he would “help deliver a better future.”

A Marcos vowing this in Cebu.

Fancy that. I lived long enough to see the unimaginable.

A month after I was born, in November 1965, Ferdinand Marcos was elected the 10th president of the country. He promised a “New Society.”

In 1969, he was re-elected, the first president to have a second term.

Justifying that the New Society he was trying to create was threatened by communists and oligarchs, Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972. I was in first grade.

At the start, martial law just meant going home from family parties before street curfew was declared.

Except for my father’s half-sister, my family seemed untouched by martial law. This aunt of mine lost half her thigh in the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, where Liberal Party candidates were among the 95 injured and nine others died, including a five-year-old. Blaming the communists, Ferdinand Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which preceded the declaration of martial rule.

Even then, I remember how my elders spoke in whispers.

By the time Ferdinand Marcos lifted martial law in 1981, actual national conditions reflected a skewered interpretation of the Marcos couple’s vision of “societal regeneration.”

In college, I learned from campus journalists, activists, Moro liberation fighters, the religious, workers, community organizers, farmers, department store workers, tricycle drivers, organized urban dwellers and others whose voices were too small to be heard in the media that death in this country was the ultimate luxury.

Living was just a little harder than dying because it took longer: children raped, women raped, workers raped, plantation workers raped, media raped, voters raped and again and again and again.

Last Friday, the son of the dictator paid Cebu a visit to hear what she thought about his running for national office.

I would not have believed nightmares repeated themselves, except that early this month, Joseph Estrada confided to a rally in Liloan that he would be forced to run for the presidency if no other leader would unite the national opposition.

According to my son’s textbook, Estrada is the 13th president of the country. He, too, promised that his administration will be “pro-poor.”

In 2001, he was ousted by civilian protests of nonviolence known as People Power 2. In 2007, he was found guilty of plunder but was later pardoned by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Early this month, Estrada vowed to save again the country, as the son of the dictator did, as will others.

To live long enough to witness this is to realize how valuable the lessons were, and how forgettable. So let the raping begin again. 09173226131

* First published as the Mar. 22, 2009 “Matamata” column in Sun.Star Cebu

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