Wednesday, August 5, 2009


If Marcos and his thugs had not murdered Ninoy Aquino, in all likelihood, Cory would still be alive today. She would have certainly had a screening colonoscopy in Boston that would have discovered and removed those polyps before they turned malignant.

Instead, she became President of a nation with a woefully inadequate healthcare system that fails to protect even its “national treasure” from an entirely preventable disease.

So it goes back to Marcos once again, 20 years dead. Nothing personal here any longer, never really was. I never saw him in person, never had anything to do with him. He was always the person to me who chose the other side, who tried to get as many people to his side using whatever force necessary.

Seems very few remember how bad those Martial Law days were, a tightly-controlled press with Doroy Valencia, Tatad, Tuvera, Adrian Cristobal, Ronnie Nathanielsz zealously proclaiming the party line; nobody outside the New Society cordon was allowed to leave the country. There was a curfew at midnight; all firearms had to be surrendered, the penalty for noncompliance was death. There was a very effective “population control” program in place. “Secret Marshals” were deployed in public transportation: they were licensed to kill anyone they considered menacing to public safety. Students were made to sing hymns extolling “Ang Bagong Lipunan”, resort hotels were built in record time to host foreign lenders, acres upon acres of grass spray painted green to impress Pope John Paul II.

Hindsight is devastatingly 20/20. All those dreams and ambitions of a cunning man only succeeded in transforming the country into a Potemkin Village that exalted the efficiency of centralized corruption.

Before Ninoy was killed, there seemed very little hope. Reagan was closely protecting the Marcoses, friends from his days as Governor of California. Then Vice President George HW Bush had just toasted the dictatorship’s “adherence to democratic principles and democratic processes”, at a time when even mildly critical comments regarding the New Society was harshly punished. Marcos wielded absolute power. We will never fully account for the fate of thousands who simply vanished during those dark years.

A stem cell is pluripotent. It has the potential to develop into countless cell lines. Each one of us is endowed with this feature. We have the capacity to become saints and heroes, murderers and molesters. Through some immutable grace, we are drawn to one particular side or the other. Many gifted thinkers, artists, religious leaders, scientists, lawyers, teachers completely collaborated with Marcos; the kindest we can view this behavior from a distance is to confer some degree of Goebellian fanaticism to these people who must have somehow believed that liberty, freedom and respect for life could be dispensed with to achieve some shred of totalitarian heaven.

When Cory took over, the educational system was in tatters. Capital flight was unprecedented. The armed forces that had once been a professional force of fighters had become highly politicized. Easily a tenth of the population would leave for other countries in order to survive. I was among those who had to leave. There were very few opportunities then and like many others, I felt ill-prepared to contribute significantly towards rebuilding our country. Besides, a new legion of politicians, old and new seemed to crawl out from nowhere to take over the task of recovering a fictitious era of prosperity and democracy.

We mourn the death of Cory, we feel deeply the loss and the pain because she alone remained true. What has become of her old guard? Unfortunately, they and their relatives have transmogrified into another society of scions, part of a sociopolitical scheme that perpetuates poverty, suffering and ignorance.

23 years after Marcos was deposed, too many have forgotten, so many more were not even born during those tumultuous times. There are unmistakable signs of the impending restoration of the New Society. There are cocky descendants everywhere, waiting for what they consider their rightful turn to rule a materially and spiritually impoverished nation, repeatedly pillaged and perennially rocked off its moral mooring. The odds are overwhelmingly against us once more. These guys do this for a living. We have no power and we have no money. But we have the example of Cory Aquino to follow.