HomeCommentaryMartial Law to the 'People Power Revolution'

Martial Law to the ‘People Power Revolution’

This is an invitation to my friends to tell their stories of the Martial Law and the events of EDSA. Where were you then? What happened to you, your families, your friends?

Many of my students do not know the events of Martial Law and the EDSA People Power Revolution. If they have read about it, the texts do not appear as vivid and real as we experienced it on the ground in our time. That is why they easily fall prey to Marcos’ well-funded project of historical revisionism present on Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, etc.

Britanny Kaiser, the whistle blower at Cambridge Analytica, revealed that Marcos Jr. requested them to “rebrand” his family image. After years and tons of millions poured into the rebranding project, with thousands of well-paid trolls at hand, we are now “enjoying” the “harvest” — that Martial Law is the golden age of the Philippines, that Marcos was the greatest President we ever had, that the Tallano gold is just waiting to be recovered and distributed, that the “dilawan” screwed all the Marcos’ gains.
And the Junior, basking in all its glory tries so much to recover those golden years, by bringing back Paradise Lost in the singing of “Ang Bagong Lipunan” theme song in his rallies, retrieving George Canseco’s “Ako ay Pilipino” commissioned by Imelda’s lavish cultural program.

What is not mentioned in the rebranding story are the thousands of people killed, tortured or disappeared; millions of their families suffering from their loss until today; the billions in debt which we all pay until today, the graft and corruption to the tune of billions, and their cronies who only changed loyalties from one power to another, up to the time of Duterte. No wonder all the plunderers coalesce into one “UniTeam.”

Of course, these abuses “swept under the rug,” as it were in the rebranding program. Do not mention them; positive campaigning; no to cancel culture; huwag maninira. Let us look into the future. “Sama-sama tayong babangon muli,” that is the nostalgic cry! Actually not quite different from Trump’s call to “make American great again.”

The Marcoses are made to appear as victims. No, they are not. They are the oppressors whose mere words or command can kill a person, close the 5th Avenue in Manhattan for shopping, turn a plane flight back, or bury poor construction workers alive to beat the deadline of an international film festival.

In the next few weeks leading to EDSA anniversary, I will try to remember what I and my young classmates experience then, hoping that our precious personal experiences will not be maligned and deleted by the Tiktok generation that pervade human consciousness today.

We placed our lives on the line. Some of us were hit by truncheons in rallies, or have guns pointed at us while watching the ballot boxes. We thought we were about to die in the EDSA tear gas or when Marcos commanded his Air Force to strike at us gathered in EDSA. All these were real personal experiences, that no Tiktok can erase. It is our duty to tell the story. And not permit Marcos to rewrite it for us.

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There are those who lived earlier than us, who experienced the harsher treatment of Martial Law, those who were arbitrarily imprisoned or tortured or kidnapped. I also invite them to share their story. If we do not have the million following of Tiktokers, at least those in our network and friends would know, that we are writing an alternative story.

In another time, the gospels did not make it to the headlines in Rome. It was the poor at the margins of the Empire in faraway Palestine who believed and offered their lives for it. This is how marginal stories work. And by recounting them now, we proclaim it as gospels for all generations.

In short, this is an invitation to my friends to tell their stories of the Martial Law and the events of EDSA. Where were you then? What happened to you, your families, your friends? I think personal stories still have their place in the myriad of invented videos and bytes that flood the cloud. You can write it here; you can write it on your walls. You can tell them on Tiktok or Twitter or elsewhere. Let the storytelling begin.

Father Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M. is a theologian, professor, and pastor of an urban poor community in the outskirts of the Philippine capital. He is also Vincentian Chair for Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York.

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