Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Martial Law: Fact in the books, the truth in experience

Tomorrow, September 21, 2016 is the 44th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos. 

I was born in 1972, a martial law baby. My clear memory of the 70's, I was enrolled in the Kindergarten, 1977. Taytay then was a rural town with acres of rice lands and plenty of vacant lots, not crowded like today. You could go out of the house with the door open and not fear anything would be stolen. This was because most of the people in the neighborhood knew each other that went back generations, so the relations goes beyond being neighbors, it's almost family.

Growing up in the martial law era and a child at that, it's impossible for me to have an idea of what life was before the declaration, I could make no comparison, but all I knew was I grew up in a relatively peaceful environment. 

But there's one thing that I remember about the 70's, the curfew. I was forbidden by my parents to go out of the house when darkness comes. I am told that policemen and soldiers kidnap children and put them into jails.

But the curfew scare was really unnecessary because it was rare to see children playing outside the house. Well, for one, there's no street lighting except on the highways. 

Also, the TV, every time President Marcos spoke all the TV channels would stop regular broadcast and air his speech. Other than that, I don't have bad memories of martial law. I was in  grade school, so, I guess I'm still innocent.

My parents were simple folks. My father was a heavy equipment operator and my mother was a plain housewife. We live in a small house. We had no business and had no properties to speak of like the rest of millions of ordinary Filipinos. We were not rich but I never felt we were impoverished, at least we ate regularly and went to school regularly. Life was simple, as long as there's work, as long as there's food, life goes on. 

I guess to common Filipinos then, life is what is lived. Marcos, it could not be denied, did accomplished a lot of good projects. 

Many Filipinos do not have a bad feeling about martial law it's because it didn't affect them directly. And millions of Filipinos still speak of Marcos with admiration, my mother included. try to ask your parents and grandparents, and see for yourself.

Whatever freedom martial law curtailed like freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, sequestration of businesses etc. for most of the common Filipino laborer, these things are beyond them. I mean, imagine what the common laborer talk about. Whenever I tag along my father to his work, the talk was usually about the project, beers, basketball, etc. Common folks engaging in common conversation, what is freedom of speech to them?

Of course, for the victims of martial law it's a different story. They have every right to be angry. They have every right to tell, to educate people. But to the common Filipino who lived in peace during the martial law, they have different stories. They are not victims and I don't think they will think of themselves as ever being victims and they will not be convinced as being victims of martial law. They have different experiences. To many, martial law is good but for most, martial law is neither good nor bad. And this drives the anti-martial law people nuts because they find that it's getting more and more difficult to  proselytize to people the evils of martial law. Their call for vigilance is an anachronism.

I guess in the long run, time will come, and I hope it would, that martial law will just be another fact in our history.

Anyway, I always thought that historians, like grammarians, are supposed to describe and not prescribe. So, start writing facts and leave the search for truth to the philosophers.

Me, I don't care Marcos, Cory, Pnoy etc.. One of the best years of my life was during the martial law era--childhood. 

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