Remembering history more than the holiday
If I wrote last week that the world was becoming a frightening space, this whole week has done nothing except to prove that it can get worse. As expected, the Hamas attack on Israel and the barbaric massacre and hostage-taking by the terrorist group galvanized an enraged counterattack from the Israeli government and military.
It was clear to me that the violence would not be contained within Israel-Palestinian borders. Already, rocket fire is being exchanged between Israel and Lebanon borders. More should come, and more from other countries. Why would the United States send aircraft carriers closer to the conflict area is there is no threat that Lebanon, Syria, and Iran will join the fray?
The bombing of a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians being treated inside, plus ordinary Palestinians seeking refuge in what they thought to be a safe place, has heighted the rage against Israel. They all assume that Israel was the one who bombed. Naturally, the Israelis strongly deny the accusation and has instead pointed at Hamas and other terrorist groups who can sacrifice the innocent for their cause.
We from afar cannot judge who is lying and who is telling the truth. Both sides have the necessary motivation and will to kill the innocent – all for the higher cause, each will claim. I just find it very strange, even masochistic, for Israel to derail the visit of American President Joe Biden who was actually airborne when the hospital bombing happened.
Biden was forced to cancel his Jordan visit and arrives Israel under very much worse circumstances. Why would Israel do that? And why should enemies of Israel not do it if Israel will be blamed? But as the war rolls out, and as history keeps documenting events in ways that it has never done before due to cutting-edge technological advances, more facets of the truth will emerge. A matter of time, as the saying goes, but the truth will find the light of day.
Which makes me wonder just how intelligent the new Marcos administration is. History can be forgotten, but it cannot be changed. This inane idea of trying to eliminate the People Power revolution of 1986, or EDSA People Power, from the attention of Filipinos by not retaining it as the national holiday it has always been, has instead renewed attention on it.
I can understand how the Ferdinand Marcos family can feel that the ugly past is better forgotten than remembered. Skeletons in the closet may be many, and many more be inside. It is logical for the Marcoses to wish that the most popular peaceful revolution in history be buried permanently. Unfortunately for them, that will not happen. History is not up to one family. History is a collaboration of many forces with the greater events impacting even global players.
If Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. won the 2022 presidential elections with EDSA People Power as a holiday, experienced his first year as president with the historical event still a national holiday, and experienced very high approval and trust ratings despite it, does he not get the hint? In other words, the national holiday known as Edsa People Power does not dictate elections more than money and power. But if the memory of EDSA People Power is unduly triggered to become active and passionate, it can actually bring him down.
The power of the people’s revolution is not in its being a national holiday. It lies instead in the hearts and minds of Filipinos who immortalize the value and impact of the uprising. You can delete the holiday but you cannot delete the memory. The memory is not only implanted in those who were alive and participated in the revolution; rather, it is perpetuated by the stories of one generation to the next. And by the history of the world.
Why should Filipinos forget it? It was a moment like no other, the only peaceful revolution that ousted a sitting dictator, or to many, a conjugal dictator. It was an army against a people massively but peacefully gathered around military camps. It was nuns against tanks, it was the best in us defying the beast in us. All saw the ouster of a dictator, but many were also awed by the miracle of peace against violence. We may not remember the personalities, but we cannot forget the miracle.
We must not, either. In a world turning more turbulent and with violent conflict spreading so fast, our shores are not so far away that we can be insulated from the evil of war. The ongoing Middle East conflict can erupt into a Middle East war – on top of the Russian-Ukraine war with NATO and the EU involved as well. Plus, we have China and its expansionist 9 or 10 – dash line claiming territorial waters of several Asian nations, including ours. The future is not bleak, it is outright dangerous.
That is why I wonder just how intelligent the Marcos administration is. It is not EDSA People Power separating the Marcoses and those who oppose them. But it will be the Marcoses if they will try to replay the Ferdinand Marcos playbook of governance – known in the Guinness World Records as among the most corrupt. The world remembers the same Ferdinand Marcos who left his country bankrupt, bankrupt in the national treasury, bankrupt in its morality.
Better governance and an inspiring leadership can neutralize the darker side of history. But if this is not the vision and commitment of Junior Marcos, then he can be right that the People Power Revolution can conjure dangerous thoughts. That may in his mind justify its removal by him of its status as a national holiday. However, he will probably learn that the holiday is not going to be the cause of the next revolution. It will be him, it will be his governance, it will be his greed, it will be his arrogance – yet, all avoidable, by him.