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No Free Lunch

The wrong reasons

/ 04:07 AM October 26, 2021

It’s both fascinating and alarming to hear some reasons ordinary people have reportedly been giving for favoring the late dictator’s son as their likely choice for president in next year’s elections. Those of us who lived through the excesses in that dark period of our nation’s history find it unthinkable that our country would return that family to the palace. Outside observers have already found it puzzling (to say the least) how Filipino voters have actually permitted the immediate members of that family, save for one, to occupy positions of political power in the past decades.

With hindsight, it’s hardly surprising that the dictator’s son now has a credible shot at the top office of the land. In an election where 52 percent of the voters will be under 40 years of age, as reported by the Commission on Elections, those of us with vivid memories of how the martial law years wrecked our country and its economy now comprise the minority. Worse, the younger generation who never lived through the dictatorship’s excesses learned the wrong things about it from their history textbooks.

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Someone in an online chat group told of her encounter with a 20-year-old male from Pampanga, who explained to her why he was veering toward Marcos Jr.: “Though may matagal na po silang issue pero madami din po nagawa si Marcos para sa Pilipinas and naniniwala po akong the fault of the father cannot be inherited by the son … hindi naman po siguro gagawin ni BBM yung pagkakamali ng tatay n’ya.” There are two flawed parts to this probably not uncommon sentiment.

First is the young man’s tendency to weigh the dictatorship’s “long-standing issues” lightly against its supposed positive achievements for the country. Long-time school textbook vigilante Antonio Calipjo Go could readily explain why. He has patiently documented how textbooks neglected to adequately educate our young students on the horrors of the martial law years. In a 2017 Inquirer article, he noted how “selective amnesia” seems to mark the basic education curriculum and the textbooks used under it, in accounts of the years under the Marcos dictatorship. An example he cited is the textbook “Isang Bansa, Isang Lahi,” where the bulk of the 18 pages of Lesson 14 (“Ang Batas Militar”) is devoted to positive effects of the dictatorship, while only two and a half pages dealt on the negative consequences of martial law. Go found that other textbooks either glossed over it, or never mentioned it at all, as if our nation’s history stopped with the United States granting us independence on July 4, 1946.

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No wonder, then, that the young man was prepared to set aside the “long-standing issues” on the dictator and his family. Too many of our youth today may have even come to swallow the lie that the Marcos era was a “golden age” for the Philippines. To his great dismay, former president Fidel V. Ramos discovered this firsthand when he went on a school road show several years ago in an effort to impress upon the youth the importance of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution he had led to throw out the dictator.

The second part, that “the fault of the father cannot be inherited by the son,” is a tenuous statement of trust, even as the latter has already clearly demonstrated the same lack of honesty and integrity with blatant falsehoods he has been roundly exposed for. Another respondent exemplifies the same seemingly misplaced trust, as he declared: “Sure ‘di na magnanakaw yan sa dami ng pera ng mga ‘yan” (he surely won’t steal anymore, with all the money they already have). Never mind that “all the money they already have” was never theirs in the first place—and much of that money has been systematically invested all these years in a deliberate effort to pave the way for the family’s second coming to Malacañang.

And so here we are, poised to be the laughingstock of the world should the well-planned and well-funded bid to have the late dictator’s only son regain the presidency succeed. And in the eyes of many, the grand irony is that it is our people’s plundered money that is financing all this.

We have a saying to describe how we just might end up: pinirito sa sariling mantika (fried in our own lard).

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TAGS: 2022 presidential elections, Bongbong Marcos, Cielito F. Habito, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Marcos martial law, No Free Lunch
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