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Never forget

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Former First Lady Imelda Marcos sits down with Lauren Greenfield for the latter’s 2019 documentary ‘The Kingmaker.’ SCREENGRAB FROM ‘THE KINGMAKER’ BY LAUREN GREENFIELD

Never forget. These are wonderful words to live by. All of us have made mistakes or were wronged by someone. How we choose to get past our blunders or the transgressions inflicted on us is our own choice.

As a little girl growing up in a predominantly Catholic country, my indoctrination included being told “to forgive and forget.” There’s nothing wrong with it but as I grew older, I came to the realization that it takes a saint to be able to uphold it.

So I came up with my own version: “Forgive but never forget.” The logic is simple: forgiving makes moving on easier but choosing not to forget means holding one’s self accountable for committing the same mistake again or for suffering the same pain from a previous wrongdoing. Who wants to be called a fool for committing the same mistake and failing to prevent it from happening again?

This is great when applied as a personal motto but I believe this can even be a guiding force for us, the Filipino people, as a nation.

 

Remembering history seems to be not our strongest suit. There’s an air of forgetfulness that permeates these days. As a Filipino, today is a date we all should remember. It’s a day of infamy, one that cannot be refuted never occured. But for those who tend to forget or maybe have a warped sense of history, it was on 21 September 1972 that former President Ferdinand E. Marcos read Proclamation 1081, which placed the country under Martial Law.

Now, those who are Gen Xers and Baby Boomers know too well what this means. Logic, critical thinking and sensitivity should be able to let them know what it meant then. The annals of modern Philippine history have quite a list of related literature on what transpired during those years, and if they are of sound mind and heart, they would know better than to fall victim to obvious propaganda/revisionist posts on Facebook and YouTube.

Now, to the younger ones, the Millennials and Gen-Zs, I must commend the majority of them because they are the ones who are passionate about this particular part of our history. A quick search on social media would reveal the young ones soundly engaging in discourse about this particular time in the Philippines. It’s clear they have their history right, and it is both a relief and a shame — that those who were not yet born are the ones who are fighting for that part of history to remain true to itself.

Why should we be faithfully true to history no matter how distasteful and horrible it was? Let me quote American thinker and philosopher George Santayana who penned this immortal line in his 1905 book, The Life of Reason.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” His message is direct and clear: If we are to move progessively forward, we must not forget what happened in the past. History is marred with many ugly truths and miscreants leading governments but these details help shape a nation. A nation that forgets will always suffer a cycle of ugly truths and unscrupulous personalities until and unless its people conscientiously avoids repeating mistakes by not forgetting them.

For those who are conveniently forgetting what those “ugly truths” were, thankfully, there are quite a lot of materials with which they can freshen their memories.

First off, the ongoing “Daang Dokyu, A Festival of Philippine Documentaries,” opened with a selection of Martial Law related titles. These are Imelda (2003) by Ramona Diaz and Marcos: A Malignant Spirit (1986) hosted by seasoned broadcast journalist Angelo Castro Jr. These can be streamed on its web site: www.daangdokyu.ph/.

 

‘DEKADA 70’ tells the travails of a middle-class family whose ordeal starts when one of their sons was accused of engaging in an anti-government movement.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF STAR CINEMA

Marcos: A Malignant Spirit is a must-watch simply because it contains rare footages of the “baggage” that went with the Marcoses when they fled to Honolulu, Hawaii after Ferdinand’s ouster in 1986. The astounding amount of fur coats, boxes of freshly printed Philippine monies, and the ludicrous collection of jewelry, notably diamonds, sapphires and pearls, the latter which can occupy a 48-square-meter room when neatly placed on the floor, are quite incriminating pieces of evidence.

It also has taped conversations between Marcos and Americans Robert Chastain and Richard Hirschfeld who befriended the former and posed as arms procurers/dealers. They testified in a 1987 hearing on the US House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs about their series of wiretapped conversations that revealed Marcos’ plan to invade the Philippines and of his admission of “1,000 tons of gold hidden in a secret cache and $500 million in Swiss bank accounts.”

For context, it is best to read Carmen Navarro Pedrosa’s The Rise and Fall of Imelda Marcos (1987). This one details the early life of Imelda in Leyte, growing up as the daughter of her father’s second family; how she pined for a better life after growing up owning and treated less by his aristocratic family; of her, her mother and siblings living in an apartment above a garage while her siblings from the first marriage lived in a mansion.

There are also other accounts that detail the psyche of Imelda, the child and beautiful woman who would catch the attention of Ferdinand who she will marry a few days after meeting him. It also has pictures of the family, notably one that fashions Ferdinand and Imelda and their children as a royal family complete with sashes.

Among the better of Star Cinema’s offerings is Dekada 70, penned by critically acclaimed writer Lualhati Bautista. Aside from its stellar cast that includes Vilma Santos, Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin and Christopher de Leon, it illustrates how limiting and limited one’s freedom to expression was during that era.

Lauren Greenfield manages to elicit powerful and revealing statements and imagery in her 2019 documentary, The Kingmaker, which had successful repeat screenings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last year. “Perception is real, but the truth is not,” Imelda remarked while seemingly oblivious to the severity of her statement.

Hopefully, Filipinos of all ages will not only forget what today is. But more than the date, it is implored for them not to be disheartened by our ugly truths. If we conveniently forget them, we’re bound to repeat them.

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