Home Opinion Columns Shades of Martial Law’s naked truth

Shades of Martial Law’s naked truth


Recently, Senator Imee Marcos said that “the decision of the University of the Philippines (UP) to offer a subject on martial law was part of academic freedom.” She expressed hope that her family would also be allowed to share their own views on the matter.  Philippine Studies (PS) 21 will focus on the language, literature, and culture under martial law during the term of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the senator’s father.

“It’s good that it’s being studied. I hope we will be given the chance to say what we believe happened. That is what’s important, that each of us shares our viewpoint and that each of us is heard,” Marcos said. Per report of Leila B. Salaverria and Matthew Reysio-Cruz of the Inquirer, according to Marcos, “she believed her family was somewhat to blame for the situation because they kept quiet about the matter for a long time and did not defend themselves.”

“We got too lazy to speak up and we did not share what we know. We did not share our stories because it was tiring,” Marcos said.

This brings to mind 19th-century legend, which depicted in a world-famous painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme in 1896 entitled “The Truth coming out of the Well”.

According to the legend, the “Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvelous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing. Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage.

The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein its shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbors no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.”

Now, saying that the Marcoses had been lazy is tantamount to Imee Marcos saying that they had not been scrambling to rewrite history by deodorizing his father’s dictatorship where courts have proven that they have absconded billions of dollars from the coffers of the Philippines, where thousands have been killed, imprisoned, or disappeared during the martial law days.

For Imee Marcos to say that they did not defend themselves is to say, initially, that they were actually not on the offensive. At the outset of martial law, according to Wikipedia, “government forces shut down media outlets, including broadsheets the Manila Times; Daily Mirror; Manila Chronicle; Manila Daily Bulletin; Philippine Daily Express; Philippines Herald; Philippine Free Press, Graphic; and the Nation. Media outlets owned by Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto have exempted: newspaper Daily Express and television and radio stations of Kanlaon Broadcasting System. In the hours following the announcement, hundreds of media practitioners and opposition figures are arrested, including Senators Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Jose Diokno, and Ramon Mitra Jr., joining Senator Benigno Aquino who had been arrested a day before the formal declaration.”

Saying that it was “tiring” for them to share their stories, the Marcos was able to come back politically and succeeded to have the dictator buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. If not for Vice-President blindsiding them in the 2016 elections and trashing the Marcos drama script, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. would have been the vice-president, Duterte could have long resigned, and the Philippines would have the son of the dictator the current president of the nation.

The Marcoses were never tired or lazy and have always defended themselves. They also, unfortunately, still have a considerable following, and, with the fortune, they still have not returned to the coffers, still are able to oil political machinery that could corrupt officials to make decisions favorable for their whims and caprices.

At any rate, we still have to see if PS 21 will really prosper. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador still has to review its syllabus.  He seems to suggest that the subject’s spirit is defiance against repressive regimes – not mere teaching governance.

My guess is if the syllabus is not compliant to the taste of Duterte’s government, it might not even get off the well. Nonetheless, truth, naked or not, always prevails.

By the way, the outbreak of the Katipunan revolution was in 1896, the same year that Leon Gerome painted The Truth coming out of the Well. The truth of the Filipinos being exploited had initially been exposed. And should be ongoing. # nordis.net

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