“For it is in remembering the lessons of the past – and avoiding a repeat of their negative repercussions – that we will truly advance the welfare, the wellbeing, and the rights and liberties of all our people…
Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel
Senator, Human Rights Lawyer
Speech on the Commemoration of Bonifacio Day at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Quezon City, on November 30, 2018
We are living in interesting times. The age of information has ushered to us the blessing of knowing the past, interpreting the present, and envisioning the future. But the downpour of information creating the vast seas of knowledge does not promise the purity of its water.
The recent histories have proven to us that information is neutral and intention is dominant. The rise of authoritarian regimes has co-opted and twisted information-making and information dissemination as part of its arsenal of weapons to exact its intentions and recreate an understanding of the world useful to them.
The Marcos regime despite the grandness of its opulence, corruption, and violence has, in a way, succeeded in turning the tides of narratives to their advantage. Historical revisionism has never been more physical, tangible, and visible in their pursuit of perpetual spring cleaning of the dirt of the Martial Law era. Fake news and revised version of facts has led to general public understanding and acceptance of the Marcosian “Golden Age”.
“Maganda at maayos ang Pilipinas noong panahon ni Marcos”, the narratives of the public said.
But in small pockets and islands of resistance, advocates and truth-tellers continue to push back against this revisionism. Efforts to dismantle misinformation, disinformation, and censorship abound in the circles of progressives, victims, and historical academics.
In the larger scheme of things and stepping back to see the big picture, the clout of advocates of the preservation of truthful histories are dwindling due to the passing of time. The threat of forgetting and irrelevance is imminent as the experiences and memories of the draconian rule of the 60s and 70s are lodged in the minds and voices of an aging generation – exhausted and spent despite its passion for truth and justice.
In the drive to preserve and memorialize the struggle, the call to continue the telling and retelling of the stories has never been more important. We learn from history so that we do not make the same mistakes again. In the next steps and progression to achieve this goal lies the importance of new storytellers to be born and taught. The youth of today, in full faith of their generation’s empathy, sensitivity, and sense of justice, are called to take up space to be the new historians.
In the months of March, April, and May, the Assumption College’s Grade six (6) classes have been taught the horrors and stories of the Martial Law era by their teachers with a special lecture by public historian Professor Charleston “Xiao” Chua. The students then are asked to artistically reflect on their learnings by creating artworks signifying their understanding of this significant point in Philippine history. The works produced are very diverse and employed not only traditional media but contemporary cultural forms of communications like memes and digital collages.
These efforts may pale in comparison to the machinery of those in power trying to kill truths and facts of our nation. But a sustained, sincere, and creative action to define history based on truths and facts may prove to be a vital contribution in ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself in all its horrors and injustice. More than an experiment, this should be an inter-generational duty.
In the eyes of innocent children, this is how they see the past, and given the right opportunity, we can empower them with the capacity to be young social changemakers so that in the future they no longer need to traverse the same paths of repression their parents and grandparents had.
We call on all the young people of the nation, to take the pen and the brush and cameras, to lend their voice and thoughts in service of the truth and remembering. You are not only the heirs of the future but also stewards of the past and shapers of the present. In your youthful and strong shoulders lies the duty and privilege of carrying the histories of a whole nation. You are powerful guards of time.
May we always remember to #NeverForget and #NeverAgain to Martial Law.
Professor Charleston “Xiao” Chua
Assumption San Lorenzo Basic Education Division – Social Studies Department | Assumption San Lorenzo Grade 6 Students Batch 2020-2021
Andrei Venal | Elvin Jay Macanlalay | Julius Samonte | Christine Alvarez