If you frequent the social media, Facebook especially, you will quickly notice some regular but phony narratives about the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. They speak about his supposed achievements and exploits, and how he is currently being molded in an image of a hero or that of a great statesman. The most recent one that I encountered is a tale about the golden treasures that certain parties so persistently try to connect to his wealth, to erase the popular belief that it was ill-gotten.
Some analysts think that these narratives are all part of the grand scheme of the Marcoses to try to revise history. More recently, the family has been trying to put up a discourse on the Marcos and Aquino schools, if indeed there are such things, in an effort to field Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the 2016 national elections. There are also verified reports in the academic community that in 2016, the likely contenders against the Aquino team will not be Jejomar Binay and whoever his vice presidential candidate will be. According to these reports, the fight will likely be between President Aquino’s anointed successor and Bongbong-Bong (Revilla) or Bong-Bongbong. Indeed, certain parties are doing the best they can to wage an online social movement aimed precisely at some sort of historical revisionism that will redeem the
With regard to the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, I find Ricardo Manapat’s “Some are Smarter than Others: History of Marcos Crony Capitalism” as very credible reading, being very well-documented and evidence-based. The thief was really smarter than others to be able to steal bars of gold from the Philippine Central Bank’s gold reserves, have these melted and reshaped, and
engraved with ancient Asian characters to make these appear as part of his exploits during World War II.
But let’s talk about the Yamashita “Golden Buddha” discovered by Rogelio Roxas and forcibly taken from the poor guy, with Marcos’ brother, Judge Pacifico Marcos, ordering Roxas’ arrest and their cohorts beating him almost to death. Let’s talk about the Steel Butterfly’s 3,000 pairs of shoes. Let’s talk about her husband’s fake medals. Let’s talk about the Import Control Law that then Rep. Ferdinand Marcos authored, imposing soaring importation taxes on foreigners who wanted to do business in the Philippines. He was allegedly even the one selling import licenses to foreign businessmen for $3,000 each. The story goes that when he was still courting Imelda and they were on their way to Baguio City, he made an excuse to stop by his bank and invited her to step inside the vault holding his money. Sandra Burton wrote in her celebrated work “Impossible Dream: The Aquinos, the Marcoses and the Unfinished Revolution” that Imelda’s eyes nearly popped out when she saw bundles of money, not in Philippine pesos, but in cold US dollars. Let’s talk about the coconut levy imposed on poor coconut farmers, supposedly to solve their perennial credit problems. It turned out the levy only satisfied his cronies’ perennial greed. And the long list goes on.
Now certain parties want to revise history and target the younger generations, to lead them to believe the hoax that is FM. Again, I think that these are all part of the design to cleanse the name of the man who believed in his own lies. A man who was driven by his delusion, as can be gleaned from his own diary written on stationery bearing the mark “Office of the President,” that he had supernatural powers. A man who declared martial law thinking that he was there to stay in power for good.
In one of the pages of the diary that was discovered after he and his family fled Malacañang, Marcos thought that the chaos he himself had magnified “brings me to the necessity to declare martial law, as God spoke to me … in order to save democracy.” When an attempt was made against the life of Pope Paul VI who was then visiting Manila, Marcos “felt like the spirit of God possessed me to strike with a karate chop the man who attempted to kill the Pope” (when he was not even anywhere near the area where the Pontiff was attacked). “My hair stands [on end] as I realize what this means,” he wrote. My own hair stands on end as I begin to think about this madness.
He failed to study the lessons of history, and so the rest became history. Maybe he was not really smart, after all. He was simply a liar or an egomaniac—or both.
I suspect that a lot more attempts to revise history will come out via the social media, sooner or later. But we should say: Never again to martial law. Never again to the Marcoses. As the late Jaime Cardinal Sin once said: “To err is human. To forgive is divine. But to repeat is stupid.”
Joseph Jadway “JJ” Marasigan is the chair of the Quezon Association for Rural Development and
Democratization Services Inc.
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