Why “moving on” is not always the best advice

Today, we Filipinos are celebrating the 30th anniversary of People Power Revolution for overthrowing the 21-year dictatorial rule of President Ferdinand Marcos on 25 February 1986.  I was 7 years old then. I didn’t fully understand all that was happening. I recall we were just watching TV at home and what was shown was the rally and I just remembered that people were happy when the Marcoses left.

Five presidents later, and I am now 37 years old, there are things in our country that I can’t help but feel sad and angry about:  Excessive corruption. Excessive laws that aren’t implemented or if not, outdated already.  The lack of rage of Filipinos when it comes to abuses and neglect by our supposed leaders not just from our government but in every sector.  Our rotten public hospitals and schools.  Our slow justice system. Our lack of job opportunities forcing other Filipinos to leave their wives/husbands/children just to work abroad and earn a penny of an income. Our terrible traffic system.  The proliferation of informal settlers.  The lack of transparency in governance.

From the national government, to the local government, to the barangay, so many unpleasant things and modus operandi of corruption are happening.  To say that corruption is common not just in the Philippines but also in other countries just doesn’t make it any easier.  Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s right.  Just because it’s common doesn’t mean we should accept our fate and not do anything.

On 9 May 2016, we will be voting for our new president.  Because of social media, everyone is debating which candidate is better, everyone is promoting their presidential bet in an outright or subtle way, and everyone is making a commentary about other issues particularly about LGBT rights.  It is never ending.

So amid all these hullabaloo, I am posting here an article by Mr. Dan Lichauco on the time when he taught to groups of students to orient them about Martial Law and why February 25 is an important date in Philippine history.


I was asked to give a talk about Martial Law to grade 5-10 students from the Bannister Academy. I asked them the following:

  1. What if you were jailed for posting comments on Facebook / Twitter / IG that was against the government?
    2. What if you could not leave your house after midnight?
    3. What if you stuck your finger in an outlet and could not pull out your fingers and had to suffer the electricity.?
    4. What if you were in the plane on your way to take your lolo to a hospital in the US and you were asked by soldiers to disembark for no reason but you were enemies of Marcos?
    5. What if you were in the theatre or concert to watch a show and had to wait 2 hrs because Imelda had not arrived?
    6. What if you had to ask your strict parents permission before you did anything, including ask for toothpaste to brush your teeth and ask permission to get a drink of water, ask for toilet paper?
    7. What if you were the child of a farmer and you saw your parents get killed because they would not sell their land to Enrile and other Marcos Cronies?

What I think made the most impact was when I asked the 16 year olds to stand. Asked everyone to pinch their neighbor with their fingernails as hard as they could until it was too painful.

Then I asked them to picture the pain 100 x and x 10. This is what happened to the 14 year old son of Primitivo Mijares, Boyet, whose fingernails were pulled out with pliers and stabbed over 30 times because his father wrote a book called The Conjugal Dictatorship that was against the Marcoses. That his son may have been killed and tortured in front of his dad before the father was killed. Picture your 14 year old schoolmates or your brothers or sisters tortured and killed in front of you.

Then I said that was martial law and we celebrate EDSA because we ended a cruel, abusive and unjust period in our history. That we as a democracy are a work in progress and we are still fixing the ills of Martial Law up to today. But…. There is progress and we should not “move on” but always remember. 

philippines blog

8/1/2009 philippines blog – photo by Bill Hogan / The Chicago Tribune

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