o finally, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos has been laid to rest at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. I was then a sophomore student at the Philippine College of Criminology when Martial Law was declared. It was a time when students were throwing down chairs from the 8th floor to the entrance of the college below. When bombs exploded in pre-election sorties. It was a time where classes were so easily disrupted and students going to the streets had become commonplace. In an ironic way, it was “fun” to so many. Then Martial Law was declared. Silence. No newspapers, only static from all the TVs and radios. Everyone indoors. Zero crime. Total fear of what was to come. Then news from within the Church circle of an unsuccessful attempt to occupy the INC Central by Marcos’ army. No, worship service on Thursdays and Sundays continued as usual with the officiating minister reminding the brethren to return immediately to their homes after the service and refrain from discussing anything about the government.
Slowly, Marcos came out and news trickled from the Daily Express (the only broadsheet allowed that time) and TV 4. Life started to normalize for the rest of us. As to the pros and cons of that era, it is a matter of opinion. And that opinion has divided our country up to this time. And now that Marcos has been buried, the Yellows are furious to the extent of wanting the body exhumed from the LNMB. This is after Ninoy’s Supreme Court dismissed the petition to prevent the burial of the former President at the LNMB on a 9 – 5 decision. How do you conduct a “rematch” with a corpse?
There is an interesting story on the life of one family, a victim of the Martial Law atrocities. In a sense it can be related to the present crop of “silent” Defenders that despite the similar abuses and hurt felt by so many of us, continue to remain with the INC spearheaded by the eldest son of Ka Erdy and grandson of the Sugo. Such contrast in genes one sometimes can’t help but wonder if it came from the same source.
“To start with, I can say that I was also a victim of Martial Law during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, despite being born in the late 60s. It was actually my father who spent most of his time joining rallies against it. He was a simple laborer of a paper mills in Quezon City, but he went missing in the mid 70s. We never found him since then.
After all these decades, I was not vocal about my past,, especially on what happened to my father. Instead, I focused on making a decent living and never engaged in any political rally, although many groups have been trying to convince me to join them. I decided to be silent, until I read some posts on social media of people who claimed being Martial Law victims.
Being the eldest in the family of 5, I was the one helping my mother trying to make ends meet. Both of my parents were raised in Manila, and have only reached high school. My father has been transferring from one job to another, and my mother was just a simple housewife. Nevertheless, she never ran out of ideas on how to help make a living.
Those days, we live in not-so-friendly neighborhood in Paco, Manila, and my father usually comes home only during weekends. When I was in elementary, there was this regular “visit” of Metrocom (now Philippine National Police) in our place. They enter houses to search for some ‘illegal’ materials, and they frisk people especially those with tattoos.
To help my mother, I sell newspapers in early morning and ‘balut’ at night. But because of the curfew, we need to secure some permits to stay at late night, and sometimes our requests are being declined. Generally speaking, we did not depend on my father’s very low salary, but my mother never questioned him. She never complained about his ideology.
One night, we saw out mother crying as some of my father’s companions went to our house, and told us my father has been missing for two days. According to them, the authorities picked them up at night after attending a political rally. She went to the police station in QC to cry for justice, and spent many days and nights looking for my father.
But eventually, she realized that there were more important things to do. Despite her frustrations, she chose to do everything so we can live peacefully and have food on the table. While growing up, we seldom talked about losing my father. My mother told us that it is better to foucs on how to improve our lives rather than to grieve over my lost father.
But despite of what happened, my mother discourage us not to join any rally against Marcos for the fear that we may suffer the same thing that my father had. Instead, we joined hands as a family and I was able to finish a course, even without a father. I was a college sophomore when the 1986 EDSA Revolution took place, and we did not join the rally.
Last Tuesday, November 8, I along with my other siblings and their families visited our mother because it was her 65th birthday. Coincidentally, it was the same day when the Supreme Court (SC) allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). We are watching the live news about it, and we saw our mother being teary-eyed.
We hugged her tightly not only because we are happy that she’s still healthy despite being half-blind, but because we felt that the SC ruling has an effect on her. Afterwards, I can’t help but ask her, “Mom, what do you think about the Marcos burial?” She looked at us, took a deep breath, and smiled before she uttered the words I never expected from her.
‘You see, we lost your father not because Marcos had him killed, but because he believed that Marcos was a bad president. Your father had a choice, and he did not choose us. Now that the SC decided the Marcos burial based on what the law says, do you want me to oppose the law like your father’s killers did?’ My mother told us in Tagalog.
‘But what about the justice for my father? Do you believe that Marcos is a hero after all?’ I asked her politely. My mother smiled once again, and said, ‘Marcos did not kill your father, it’s the system that killed him. Have I told your that your Aunt Lucia helped us a lot when you were young because she was among those who benefited from Masagana 99 [project of Marcos to assist the small farmers]?’
Right afterwards, there were tons of questions running into my head. ‘What could have happened if I joined the rallies instead of going to school or getting into odd jobs? Will those protest organizers give us the things we need?’ I can’t say if the Marcos burial is right or wrong. But one thing if for sure, we have been living peacefully, and I believe that my mother is my real hero.’ “