Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jesuits On Marcos And Philippino Marshal Law

Pale ink and memory
By Juan Mercado
Cebu Daily News 09/20/2007
CEBU CITY, Philippines - “The palest ink is better than the best memory,” the Chinese say. Tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of Martial Law. Do people of truncated memories recall that skid into dictatorship? More importantly, do we care? “You’d have to be over 40 years old… to remember a time when Ferdinand Marcos wasn’t the president yet,” says Columnist Manuel Quezon III. My daughter Malou is over 40. A lawyer and Martial Law exile, she settled in California with her physician-husband and two kids. What does she recall? She remembers Fr. James Reuter. The Jesuit waited until her St. Paul third grade class was dismissed. “Not everyone in prison is bad,” he reassured her. There were 22 of us journalists detained in Proclamation 1081’s first wave of arrests. “Your father and other newsmen are not criminals.” What do Imee and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. remember? “The brain has corridors surpassing/ Material place,” Emily Dickinson wrote. Or are they too busy ferreting wealth stashed in Ortigas lots or companies fronted by erstwhile cronies like Lucio Tan? This is the first time the Marcoses claim squirreled loot in the headlines. No one blushes anymore. “All I need is the right kind of shoes,” 78-year-old Imelda Marcos quipped after her medical checkup. Does their calibrated assessment conclude that amnesia now blankets Martial Law? Garapalan na lang? Eight out of 10 students, the surveys tell us, barely recall Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., let alone why he was gunned down. Indeed, “we have little collective memories of the past,” Ateneo’s Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, told the “Legacies of the Marcos Dictatorship” conference. “We tend to live in a perpetual present. Thus, we cannot see well into the future…” And we of the grey hair, bifocals and arthritic knees – what do we remember? Singing “Bayan Ko” or cracking a joke about the “New Society” invited a beating or detention, oftentimes both. We also relearned what Japanese Kempetai brutality taught earlier: political jokes are serious business. We hurt so much then, so we laughed. Remember the joke about emaciated and fat dogs lining up for US visas? “Martial Law is obviously good for you,” the scrawny mutt told the obese mongrel. “So why do you want a visa?” he asked. The reply: “I want to bark.” Jokes against “Big Brother,” George Orwell wrote, are “tiny revolutions.” Wit and humor have always been rapiers against dictators. They were then thrust into Bagong Lipunan camp followers: Fabian Ver, Estelito Mendoza, Juan Ponce Enrile, Eduardo Cojuangco, even a minor functionary in San Juan named Mayor Joseph Estrada. Few slashed with more effectiveness than Jaime Cardinal Sin. On return from the Vatican conclave that elected Pope John Paul II, Sin told Marcos’ elections commissioner: “If you were in charge of the conclave, Leonie, I’d be Pope today.”
Read the full Cebu article (here)

1 comment: said...

Quite worthwhile material, thanks for your post.