Ignorance of history
The truth is you do owe this man (Ninoy Aquino) the fact that you have FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION & FREEDOM OF THE PRESS TODAY—because he had the balls to actually DIE for his country.”
That’s Kris Aquino addressing bashers in her Instagram account on the 85th birth anniversary last November of her father, the martyr Ninoy Aquino. She pointed out that Ninoy was now resting in peace and couldn’t trade barbs and insults with them. She lauded his sacrifice: Despite Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ warning for him not to return to the country, he still headed home and came face to face with death on that fateful high noon on Aug. 21, 1983, on the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport.
Ninoy’s assassination was the wave that galvanized Filipinos to fight the dictator-plunderer Marcos, a fight that culminated in the four days of People Power (Feb. 22-25, 1986) that booted him and his family out of the Palace. After being jailed, persecuted, and killed by his enemies, Ninoy was the big push that helped Filipinos make a remarkable transformation in courage.
Understandably, the attempts by some twisted minds to rewrite history disturb Kris. That she feels she has to talk this way shows that what we need is a major rethink of how we must engage history:
That our country—which is generally tolerant of the Filipino vice of forgiving and forgetting, and of thinking that history is uncharted territory for them to explore—can no longer stand apart from the growing sentiment of those who agonized and sacrificed under the dictatorship.
That when Filipinos lock themselves in their own cynical politics, and pay wrongful homage to sins and sinners, they drive those tormented by the dictatorship to deeper outrage.
That when there hasn’t been much public outcry on the need for the youth to be aware of their shortcomings, and to realize that a dozen years in school have not been enough for them to learn the right sense of history, this glorifies the Filipino ignorance.
In a larger sense, ignorance has crept into our homes and schools, as made evident by Ipsos Perils of Perception Report in December 2017. According to the survey, the Philippines ranks 36th of 38 countries in terms of concern about social, scientific and political issues. It took many by surprise that 500 Filipino respondents between the ages of 15 and 64 landed in the top three most confident in showing themselves as possessing too little knowledge. In the words of a critic, Filipinos are “confidently ignorant.”
This observation bolsters the idea that a big number of young Filipinos are ignorant of history. They are up to date on technological trends, and are on Facebook and Instagram nonstop the whole day, but they seem oddly out of sync with reality.
Many young people prefer trivialities and petty matters instead of issue-centered discussions. Like professional bashers, fake news messengers, and revisionists, they should resist being small-minded, be more selective and critical of issues, and help our country get out of the rut. Shaping a righteous person leads to shaping a righteous family, and by shaping a righteous family, you get a righteous society that can choose a righteous leader.
If we have done very little for the nation, just think of Ninoy who sacrificed his life for our democracy and freedom. If it does not still sink in, we won’t be able to see the truth far outside the window, and ignorance will prevail at home.
As social critic James Baldwin said, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”
Pit M. Maliksi, an alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas and Central Texas College, was Most Outstanding Professor for 12 years at PUP-Sto. Tomas, Batangas, of which he is the youth development and educational program officer of Kiwanis International, and the founder of Mga Apo Ni Tomas, a civic society of young professionals.
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