The correct sense–our ‘tamang katinuan’
One lurid allegation is grating on my nerves: that most schools and teachers of history fell through in grounding the young about martial law, the 1986 Edsa Revolution, and the Marcos excesses. This thought doesn’t settle nicely with me: that other teachers have the opposite concern. Really, indifference is a sickness, and I pity them who are afflicted. They’re not helping the young avoid falling prey to the wrong side and sense of history.
As a longtime teacher, I am firm in my conviction that I am doing the right thing in discussing the sacrifice and martyrdom of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. every Aug. 21, the dark dictatorial years of Ferdinand Marcos on or before Sept. 21, and the people’s regained freedom on Feb. 23-26.
While I sense how difficult it must be for the young to sink their teeth into the facts of martial law, it is of utmost importance to remember what pulled us into the recesses of Marcos’ barbaric kingdom. So I talk and make them listen if they refuse to. I have come to live with this necessary hindrance and no longer become too despondent to float the truth around until the young learn to be on their toes, think objectively, and get themselves in the right sense of history.
First off, I invite my speech and debate students to read the Inquirer editorials, columns and commentaries, special reports and other items on martial law, the Edsa Revolution, and other issues in our town library. Mayor Edna Padilla Sanchez foots the bill for the laminated Inquirer articles that I compile regularly.
The class also watches the documentaries “Batas Militar” and “Beyond Conspiracy” produced for the People Power Foundation by Inquirer founding chair Eugenia Duran Apostol. In learning to analyze, the students fall back on one idea which I always pose to them: that they must first know the right frame of argument, and they need to stand for it. As Lualhati Bautista wrote, they need the “tamang katinuan”—roughly, “the correct sense”—in taking either side of any dispute.
The students also learn that stating the facts rather than arguing for passion or emotion will likely win the day for them in a contention. As a result, it’s never farfetched for them to mention Carlos P. Romulo, the only Filipino secretary general of the United Nations, National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, Ifugao Rep. Ted Baguilat, father and daughter Pedro Collas and Solita Collas-Monsod—all prominent fellow Ilocanos of Marcos who openly fought his despotic rule.
The youth add to their catalogue the names of Lee Kuan Yew, former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., Soledad Duterte (mother of President Duterte), the critics, scholars and cause-oriented groups who also fought Marcos’ martial law.
They search for more and dabble in books: “The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos,” “Waltzing with the Dictator,” “Inside the Palace” by Beth Day Romulo, “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again,” “Political Detention & Military Atrocities in the Philippines 1981-1982,” “Not On Our Watch: Martial Law Really Happened. We Were There,” “Mondo Marcos: Writings on Martial Law and the Marcos Babies,” “Dekada ’70,” “Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years,” “Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage,” “Behest Loans, Nonperforming Assets, Low Growth-Déjà vu,” “Illegitimate Debt and Underdevelopment in the Philippines,” “The Philippines: The Political Economy of Growth & Impoverishment in the Marcos Era,” and “The Supreme Court GR No. 152154, July 15, 2003—an evidence of the plunder committed by Marcos and his cronies.”
Reading them, young learners can uncover the detestable level of corruption, sins, injustices, and horrors of the Marcos dictatorship.
Most of all, the youth apply the highest form of argument using the philosophy of Aristotle, which has always been proven right—the very reason philosophies before the birth of Jesus Christ continue to fare well in this day and age.
The youth gain to simplify Aristotle’s “Treatise on Politics” (4 B.C.), which states that a government, a city, or state must be governed by a good leader who serves the people first and foremost, and who must be more moral than materialistic. When asked if Marcos was a moral leader, their response is: “No, he was materialistic. He, his family, and his cronies stashed billions of dollars from the tax-bled Filipinos!”
With the two forms of government proposed by Aristotle—the true: monarchy (the best if it serves all), aristocracy and constitutional government or politeia (the most stable); and the perversions: tyranny (the worst form), oligarchy and democracy (the best if it’s for the people’s welfare)—the youth conclude that Marcos was neither a good leader nor a hero, but a tyrant. And tyranny, according to Aristotle, is the worst perverted form of government.
If the trolls, the loyalists, the paid hacks, the irrational teachers and officials, and the misguided electorate cannot take this philosophy or still ignore the doctrines of Aristotle, they are really for the birds. This you cannot tell my students. They say, any day now, they will be ready to shout, “Let’s bolt in!”
Pit M. Maliksi ([email protected]), 63, is a graduate of library science from the University of Santo Tomas and of second language teaching from Central Texas College in the United States. He is the founder of Mga Apo ni Tomas, a civic society of 1,000 young professionals in Santo Tomas, Batangas.
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