“The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner, a dead white American novelist. From the novel, Requiem for a Nun.
“The past is past.” Bongbong Marcos, real-life son of a dead Filipino dictator. In an interview.
There should be a right way of remembering. Some protocol to acknowledge and/or forgive the past without bogging us down in grudges and arguments.
I say this because I live in a country that has never known how to use the past. We are like that rodent in the cage that keeps on going around in circles.
The son of a dictator insists that the past is the past and we must move on and leave it behind. How so Mr. Marcos? How does a nation that was robbed and mutilated by your father’s regime do that exactly?
Maybe, for Filipinos, Martial Law is the equivalent of the Civil War for Americans. In many ways, it is a topic that divides us. There are two narratives of Martial Law in my country, and it depends on who is doing the remembering.
According to you and your supporters, it was a golden age when people were disciplined, the economy was great and the leadership was able and competent.
According to me and others who hold the same views: Martial Law was one of the worst things that happened to our country — when corruption was institutionalized; when Ferdinand, Imelda and the cronies robbed us blind; when people were killed by the thousands for expressing their views and when the country’s economy went down to the pits.
I wish for a time traveling machine, something like in that Michael J. Fox movie that I was so fond of way back in 1989.
I wish to observe the past first-hand and have my friends who are pro-Marcos do so as well. We will go back to 1980, perhaps, the year I was born and check the veracity of certain claims.
Like: presidential decree arrests, Imelda’s infrastructure projects, arrested and tortured activists, the so-called enforced discipline in the streets, the peace in the countryside, the corruption in the military, the desaparecidos, the food stability and the green revolution, the squatter colonies and the rise of Smokey Mountain …
Can one narrative be completely right and the other completely wrong? Or are they both correct, different facets of the same prism?
How do we learn from the past if we cannot even agree on what it consisted of?