1. Why Marcos Hated Voltes V

    One of the oddest moments of Martial Law, though completely indicative of Marcos’ totalitarian, paranoid, and wayward thinking, was when he banned the final five episodes of the anime Voltes V. Courtesy, of @copyeditor:

    In the interview, Senator Marcos said he understood that a cartoon like Voltes V would have been something important to kids “but it was actually the parents that worried about the violence that they were afraid might influence their children in a negative way.”

    “There was a lot of private lobbying by all kinds of groups, parents-groups, and so I guess my father saw it prudent to acquiesce to their demands on an issue that was and still is not well understood,” he said.

    Marcos said that up to this day, the effect of violence “as experienced vicariously by children through TV or video games is still a subject that remains contentious not only here but in other countries as well.”

    Bongbong - Why Marcos Banned Voltes V

    The truth is a little quirkier than that. The finale of Voltes V saw the heroes rising up and overthrowing an oppressive government. Hmmmmm…a little too close for comfort there methinks?

    Of course, this got me thinking. For kids today who erroneously think that Martial Law was all sunshine and flowers, just imagine Marcos breaking out the ban-stick on your favorite tv shows and movies. All for ‘questionable content’:

    • The Star Wars Trilogy - This is almost self-explanatory. Young kid harnessing his inner self, joining the underground to overthrow a doddering old fool of an Emperor, who is ultimately betrayed by his right hand man? Yeah. (Though lets be honest, I wouldn’t have minded if he banned the new trilogy.)
    • Braveheart -  A passionate and well-spoken charismatic leader sacrifices himself for the good of everyone and ultimately incites a people to rebellion? A dictator’s worse nightmare
    • The Lord of the Rings - Placid and unassuming little people, find heroism within themselves and topple a dark power, even in the face of superior might and forces.
    • Transformers - Marcos hated robots. Nuff said.
    • Fuck da Police - N.W.A - Crazy subversive new fangled hip-hop music demanding impressionable youth fight the Man? Not something you’d hear in the hallowed halls of Malacanang that’s for sure.
    • I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry - A song celebrating ‘non-traditional’ family values? I can just imagine Marcos completely aghast, all the while secretly singing along. Though, you can just imagine Imelda singing “I kissed Qaddafi and I liked it”
    • Avatar - Impoverished natives armed with primitive weapons rise up against almost overwhelming military might and win. I’m sure Enrile and Ramos would have been first in line to get this banned.
    • Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises - Vigilantism? Really? Do we even need to explain this?

    And the list goes on and on.

    But wait, the fun doesn’t stop there! You can just imagine what Marcos would have thought of video games. The unapologetic viciousness of Super Mario Brother, beating up on poor Bowser. The sheer violence of Call of Duty, the anarchy of GTA or Red Dead Redemption, would have probably sent him into fits.

    That’s the face of Martial Law. Where choices are made for you and entertainment is state-sanctioned. Can’t have anything too subversive and revolutionary, might give people the wrong ideas.

    Now excuse me, I’m going to go blow up some dragons in Skyrim and fuck the police in GTA.

    Just because I can.

  2. From @pcij (Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism):  A documentary, "Lest We Forget", detailing the stories of five human rights victims of Martial Law.

    For all you confused kids out there please note the very first line: "It shows the dark side of Philippine history, I don’t think you can…you can compare the massacres, summary executions, tortures, and killings that took place under Martial Law to any administration."

    There you go.

  3. A soldier reads a copy of Malaya during the 1986 People Power Revolution. (Photo by Joe Galvez)

    Later in the afternoon of Feb. 22, Joe received a call (he said it was from Louie Beltran of the Philippine Daily Inquirer), who asked if he had heard about a report that the forces of Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Fabian Ver had orders to arrest dozens of opposition leaders, as well as journalists in the Mosquito or Alternative Press, and haul them off to some detention facility on an island. The two friends counseled each other to take precautions and stay in touch.

    -Lourdes Molina-Fernandez

    ‘EDSA is not just four days in February’: A first-person account

    Context is always forgotten when it comes to our yearly EDSA celebrations. It has been reduced to an old irrelevant man who at the time was desperate to be saved by the people reenacting his ‘jump’ and the assassination of Ninoy Aquino (which happened in 1983).

    Where are the stories of the people dragged into the streets, some never to be seen again?

    Where are the stories of the journalists jailed, harassed, and even murdered for trying to speak the truth?

    Where are the stories of bravery in the face of intimidation, defiance in the face of totalitarianism?

    Where are the stories of the Filipino?

    (via ellobofilipino)


  4. I have always looked at the anniversary of People Power with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we removed a dictator from power. On the other, many Filipinos don’t even understand that we used to be under the thumb of a dictator; much less what that entailed. There is this disturbing concerted effort to remake Marcos and whitewash his, and his supporters, excesses, human rights violations, and gross totalitarianism.

    More disappointingly, we still see espoused misguided and antiquated political theory on the part of our so-called intellectuals that essentially support dictators and dictatorships.

    It is not only that we (as a people) do not learn from our mistakes. It’s that our ‘leaders’ refuse to change, refuse to learn from their own errors. They continue to plod the same course, espouse the same hackneyed beliefs, and basically carry themselves with a disturbing sense of self-satisfaction and superiority.

    In essence, our national forgetfulness when it comes to Martial Law allows them to maintain their positions of power with impunity.


  5. "

    He {Enrile} said that then dictator Ferdinand Marcos ordered to buy all the dollars available in the market and to send these to an account in a bank in Hong Kong…Enrile, the defense minister during martial law, said that the account in Hong Kong had yet to be liquidated. “I just don’t know who is supposed to do that. The President put Bobby Ongpin in charge then together with General Ver,” he said…

    Enrile said he learned that it was only Ongpin, ‘who knew of the bank account in Hong Kong.”


    Open records of Marcos’ spy agency, Enrile urges - Philippine Daily Inquirer.

    1. Any question why the FOIA is important?

    2. And people still hold to the fantasy that Marcos was great for the country.

    3. I’ve always heard rumors that Ongpin was benefited from certain accounts set up overseas.

    4. This is important. Opening up some of the military’s documents was a nice first step, let’s make sure that it isn’t the only step. Putting Martial Law to rest requires transparency and access to existing documents by civil society


  6. On Blind Politics and Historical Perversions

    The recent hullaballoo caused by the latest twisted take on Philippine history (and continuing series of Marcos apologetics) has been best covered by @marocharim, @ellobofilipino, and now @cocoy over at ProPinoy. So, to what they have written I really have nothing extra to add. Though, I will.

    One mystery for me is how leftists and so-called ‘radicals’ have ended up on the side of legitimizing (and forgiving) the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship.

    It is possibly an example of how perverse ideology inevitably blinds; the fractured sort of worldview that results in the adherence to an -ism. It might be something ever more simple: The antipathy felt towards the current leadership.

    Yet, it boggles my mind that knowing the excesses of the Marcos regime, knowing the levels to which the country was reduced, videos such as the one now circulating still try and whitewash the Marcos regime in pursuit of a single agenda. Then we find journalists and high-profile bloggers jump on the bandwagon; naturally allowing their own prejudices and internal biases to wholly govern their decisions in this matter. In supporting the entirety of the video, whether there is a modicum of truth held within, they are inevitably supporting that interpretation of Philippine history.

    They are basically saying that American imperialism (classic and neo), the rise capitalism and the creation of an international system of patronage and client-state relations, the Japanese Occupation, the Cold War, the Marcos Dictatorship and all its attendant ills, have had less effect on the fortunes of the Philippines than the blind greed of a single family. It reminds me of those conspiracy theorists out there who still believe the world is controlled by the Illuminati. 

    Even worse, at least for me, it betrays a continuing critique I have of ‘leftist’ politics and historians (chief among them Agoncillo and Constantino): They treat Filipinos as little more than illiterate, mindless, automatons; capable of being manipulated by any and all with little capability for personal thought and considerations. We see that most readily with the treatment of the Philippine Revolution and Republic; we see that same pseudo-intellectual thread maintained with the decontextualization and gross simplification of EDSA I and broad reactions to Marcos socio-economic depredations.

    Setting critical analysis aside, as @marocharim well pointed out, what casts this as bad history and nothing more than propaganda, is its utter lack of historical methodology. It works backward from a certain view and cherry-picks, twists, and misrepresents moments in Philippine history in pursuit of a single narrative thread. That is the worst type of history, one that purposefully excludes contextual elements in pursuit of an ideology. It, as well, a common practice in Philippine historiography; representative of a sort of shallow interpretation, and I think somewhat lazy, approach to what history means. Then again, this type of shallow historical analysis is representative of a larger malaise seen in our so-called intellectual and academic circles.

    Everyone brings biases to the table. The question becomes is how rigorous is that person in trying to mitigate bias in pursuit of the story. The same holds true in journalism as in history. Methodology, a rigorous analysis of evidence and primary source documents coupled with questioning assumptions, helps separate ‘proper’ histories from polemics and propaganda. When any document offers itself as factual and accurate it invites close scrutiny of its agenda and biases. In the world of history and cultural analysis, most writers are upfront with the framework and school of thought in which they are writing. This is part of disclosure and a key element in maintaining intellectual honesty. When a writer chooses to hide those biases, distract from them, or maintain that they are offering the one true view, that calls into question, not their impartiality, but their openness to discourse and their capabilities to rationally discuss issues. In this they share similarities with dictatorships; their first inclination is to suppress dissent through shaming, innuendo or outright banishment. Ah, maybe that helps explain why a movement in support and to whitewash the Marcos dictatorship seems to be growing in those circles.

    Interpretation of historical data is what history is based on. I can hand a single primary source document to five different historians, from different ideological schools of thought, and arrive at five different interpretations. Depending on what framework they come from that document will fit in different ways. The key is they are basing their interpretations on evidence, filtered through a logical and apparent framework. And quite frankly, all of their interpretations will have merit. I personally have never had an issue with leftist interpretations of Philippine history. I do have an issue with histories that rely too much on ideology and forgo actual evidence based and methodologically sound processes.

    When there is little evidence and only innuendo? That is propaganda. That is bad history. And that does little more than inflame passions and obscure the past. When we lose track of the past, when we forgo basing our understanding of the past on evidence and cohesive analysis, we lose the capability of truly understanding the realities of today, and developing effective solutions to address existing social iniquities.


  7. Hey people out there, you know what was part and parcel with all those Libya and Qaddafi ‘facts’ that are being reblogged?

    State supported mass murder.

    Abrogation (or outright suspension) of civil liberties.

    State sanctioned atrocities.

    Impunity for breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, and mid-afternoon snacks.

    Get that shit out of here. Stop trying to be so fucking hipster that you end up trying to defend a mass murdering psychotic dictator who bled his country and people dry.

    Note: This is not an endorsement of how Kaddafi was summarily executed. I, in no way, support mob rule. Just as I don’t support or defend authoritarian governments that abuse and exploit their people for the benefit of a dictator and his cronies. Both are situations we (as a race) should be evolving away from.

    By the way, for you Filipino blogs out there that are reblogging that crap and have been all “Ooo Martial Law was baaaad” in the past. WTF? Seriously. WTF?

  8. The Quote (1)

    So, while the Filipino has not the sufficient energy to proclaim, with head erect and bosom bared, its rights to social life, and to guarantee it with its sacrifices, with its own blood…while we see them wrap themselves up in their egotism and with a forced smile praise the more iniquitous actions, begging with their eyes a portion of the booty - why grant them liberty? With Spain or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worst! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?

    - Jose Rizal, The Reign of Greed (italics mine)

    The Quote (2)

    The people do not complain because they have no voice, do not move because they are lethargic, and you say that they do not suffer, because you have not seen their hearts bleed. But one day you will see and you will hear, and ah! Woe unto them that build their strength on ignorance or in fanaticism; woe unto them who are engaged in deception and work in darkness, believing that all are asleep!

    - Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere [italics mine]

    The Painting

    Portrait of Ferdinand Marcos by Vicente Manansala (from Quezon.ph). Tyranny in portrait.


  9. Useless: A Story about Philippine “Intellectuals”

    It is generally accepted that the Martial Law period politicized and corrupted the military. As well, there was a subversion of civil society leadership at the top of the socioeconomic foodchain. The art of capital cronyism, the repayment of support and favors through preferential treatment in public-private accommodations, undermined Philippine business. It concentrated assets, via government mechanisms of transfer and intimidation, in the hands of a few; a carefully selected and groomed cadre of men and women. Loyalists, who still maintain their patronage ties to the past. We still find visible and passionate defenses of that failed regime and its perverse ideas today. Defenses and gross misstatements that go unchallenged in the public sphere.

    As well the fourth estate, the social mechanism that is supposed to act as both the people’s voice and a check and balance to excess and abuse, was subverted. One of the first orders that went out was to round up journalists who were critical of the Marcos regime. And then jail them. Newspapers were shut down, writers intimidated and jailed. Editors went into hiding; along with some well-regarded and high-profile columnists. The intelligensia was under attack. And in muzzling their ability to speak, to criticize and explicate, to disclose and detail the indiscretions of the prevailing power bloc, one of the safeguards of the people was eliminated. When media and the ability of a country’s intellectuals to speak is controlled, the flow of information, the engagement of ideas, the forms of education are controlled as well. The best, the most effective way to rule with an iron fist, is to manage what people learn; what they discover and understand about themselves. It is part of the reason why an independent art and culture community, a vibrant one at that, is so important. Without it, sans those divergent and clashing views that exist in a dynamic society, a people stagnate. That is what happened during Martial Law. Eventually though, a people find new footing; it rediscovers its soul and voice. Broad response and reprisal follow soon after.

    That is one of the enduring lessons from that period, and any like it in world history. Effective and stable governance is not found through fear and intimidation, it is not found in the continuing miseducation of a people. In the short term, keeping a population compliant through intimidation and ignorance may work. In the short term. But over time, eventually, human spirit rebels. As Edward Said has aptly demonstrated, sometimes the soul of a people is defined in opposition to repression. Art and literature show the way. That is the reason why so much great literature, so much important art, is produced during times that try men’s souls. But the cultural and social process that births voices like Tagore or Rizal takes time. It is not instantaneous by any means. That though is in the case of colonialism from without. What of colonialism from within? What then when a people are trod under by their own?

    The same holds true. However, I truly suspect the process is accelerated in cases of internally imposed totalitarianism. At least initially. Once those early voices are silenced, and the mechanisms for public criticism sealed off, I suspect it takes time for new voices to find their bearing. Control in an authoritarian or imperial environment then does not just derive from political and economic means, it is reinforced through oversight of the intelligensia. That is the untold story of Martial Law: The subversion of the academe and the collaboration of public writers with the Marcos regime. 

    There were historians, columnists, social and cultural commentators, filmmakers, and artists who became part of the ruling elite during the Marcos years. They are still active today; fancying themselves social sages and purveyors of enlightened wisdom. And, in part, this helps explain why so much of the excess and abuse remains untold, unexplained in the public sphere. We still lack a comprehensive and cohesive tale of Martial Law; the reason is the people, the writers and storytellers, who are in the best public position to create it, collaborated. For every F. Sionil Jose, Nick Joaquin or Alejandro R Roces, or Pete Lacaba (public writers and social stalwarts all), who spoke and fought against the defilement of their country, you have even more who joined forces under some sort of ‘nationalist’ claim. In supporting the very regime that denigrated their countrymen, they made a mockery of the term ‘nationalist.’ One prominent example is Rio Alma. A man who fancies himself as a modern day avenging angel of Tagalog-ccentric nationalism; yet he was a speech writer for Marcos. A man who set-up a rival writers guild to PEN, under the aegis of Marcos. He is by no means an exception. Other so-called nationalist social commentators were working hand in hand with Imelda Marcos during those years. Benefiting from that relationship. Is it any wonder that members of our art and culture community frequently shy away from pointed criticisms of Martial Law?

    It was a storyline that played out yet again during the GMA years. The NCCA and NHI were brought inline with GMA’s interests. A negative artistic word was never allowed. The culture institutions were controlled and muzzled. The sad part is some people who were anti-Marcos ended up collaborating with GMA. They committed the same sins decades previously they had spoken out against. There is a lesson to be found here in the damage that results from allowing unfettered power and weaknesses in our institutions to continue.

    The fact is, in so many ways, our intellectual and academic communities in the Philippines have let the country down. They are supposed to be detectives and storytellers. The men and women who not only unearth social ills and iniquity, but are challenged to heal those wounds; to show ways out of the morass in which the country has found itself. Without public writers and artists digging deeper and creating new perspectives a country, and its people, will never evolve. That is the situation the Philippines finds itself in today. Our public writers and historians, with a few notable exceptions, are caught in some sort of cycle of pseudo-intellectualism and perversely twisted and superficial nationalism. Their changeability and lack of intellectual integrity comes most to the fore when commenting on political situations. Very few actually write from positions buttressed by research or even organic philosophies. More than anything, so many writers and historians are bound by ties of ideology and patronage. Those ties also encompass student-teacher relationships. One of the key issues in our historical community is the sheer reverence in which older historians are held. To write an opposing view, or critically of their positions, is almost forbidden. At the very least, it is frowned upon. 

    World views that are so bound by personal relationships or ideology result in almost worryingly limited commentary on all issues. It is the same when it comes to understanding history. It results in superficial understandings of the self and nation; past, present, and future. There are current examples of this limitation. For example, the on-going PCSO expose is one. There are many who glommed onto the pronouncements of Manoling Morato with nary a critical question asked or evidence-backed substantiation requested; yet remain curiously silent concerning the Commission on Audit reports detailing the excesses and errors of previous PCSO leadership. Well, except in the case of attacking wayward bishops. Consistency and constancy are in short supply sometimes.

    Even more amusingly, there are those who spoke glowingly and in whole-hearted support for Jose Rizal and his philosophies; describing in detail how he was their hero, and how his words and deeds were inspiration. Yet, defend warlordism as not only necessary, but appreciated. Our own history belies the very idea that concentrating power in the hands of a select few (and allowing political dynasties to flourish) is worthwhile. This distressing mutability in the basic philosophies results in almost humorous inconsistencies in positions on issues. And publicly, the act of framing and contextualizing issues is quite rare. More often than not, analysis, and criticisms there in, occur almost in a vacuum. Multi-disciplinary thinking remains elusive. And that is a continuing failure of our education system.

    The burden of not only identifying, but offering avenues to repairing, extant social ills falls most heavily on the art, culture, and intellectual community. The reason is simple: They have the ability to do so. In accepting the mantle of being a public historian, writer, artist, or journalist they are dedicating themselves to a higher calling; to national service in a sense. That is the reason why arts and culture are usually among the first civil sectors that are silenced in a totalitarian regime. In driving them underground, the public mechanism for ideas and resistance is abrogated. What else is art, but subversion?

    And that is what concerns me the most, on an intellectual level. It is not just how broken the system is, or the type of people who inhabit it. It is the fact that the road to redemption for the Philippines has become muddied by the very people who should be shining a light and creating paths out of our current situation. Instead of being the backbone of a strong, informed, and dynamic intellectual community, they have become withdrawn, elitist and even intellectually incestuous in a way. Their ideas of what it means to be Filipino are stagnant and old-fashioned. Instead of discovering new perspectives on the country, the same old hackneyed ideas are repackaged in pretty, albeit superficial, forms.

    But, serving the public good does not necessarily mean always being against government. What it demands is something far more difficult than that; because let’s be honest here, the easiest path is just to always be contrarian, to always try and tear down and criticize. Instead it demands adherence to a core set of beliefs; ideas and philosophies from which all personal ideas and positions derive. That means not allowing things like private relationships to influence. It means focusing on issues of content, and not personal likes and dislikes. I remember one writer telling me that he was most proud of the fact that he angered his friends and opponents equally during his career. If everyone agrees with what you have written, then what you wrote is meaningless.

    That is the challenge for the next generation, our generation, of artists and writers. To break the shackles of repressive historical and social thought and the strictures of perverse ideology. In other words, to come up with new meanings on what it means to be Filipino. For me, that starts historically. But for others? It has to begin where passion is found and where new ideas can flourish. Else we are failing ourselves and we will continue to stagnate.

    In a sense, we are even worse off than when we were colonial subjects. At least then there was fire and passion and energy to discover and create a new and cohesive nation. Verve that today seems to be in short supply.


  10. ellobofilipino:

    I have been reading thoughts here on Tumblr recently about Marcos and the 1986 People Power. Thoughts from kids who were not even born yet prior to that era of dictatorship and how the power of the people overthrew it. Thoughts which I think are based on mere feelings and not the experience of those who went through the Marcos years.

    Below are excerpts from the link above written by veteran journalist Raisa Robles on her blog. Robles covered the Marcoses for Business Day. She is now working as a correspondent for the South China Morning Post.

    Being born in the twilight years of the Marcos dictatorship, with parents and relatives who struggled to rid the country of tyranny and oppression, I find it insulting that those who enjoy the freedoms earned after 1986 abuse them to benefit those who have taken these freedoms away prior to that important year in Philippine history.

    What right have you to trample upon the lives lost and blood spilled by many freedom-loving Filipinos in those dark days of democracy? Do you think you would be exercising your freedom today if those who have died and sacrificed did nothing? What have you done for the freedom you enjoy today?

    Please click through to read Raissa Roble’s comments on the whitewashing of Marcos. I just removed the excerpts that @ellobofilipino included so I can more easily comment on his remarks.

    What people, especially the youth, always seem to miss is that the sins of Marcos and his crony’s are not just about how much money they stole. While that is an astounding amount, and still remains to be fully quantified (likely never will be), what he and his ilk did in terms of eviscerating the democratic institutions in this country, impoverishing and exploiting the already poor (while enriching themselves), along with innumerable human rights violations is far more egregious. The structural burdens that 20 years of Marcos left the country with still remain today.

    The problem is no one, and I mean no one, ever really looks at the state of the country in the 1960s and compares it to the 1980s in any sort of critical way. The disparities between external debt, asset allocations, education, health, social services and so on are astounding. And people still defend him, still say that given more time he would have turned the country around? 


    He had 20 years to turn the country around and by no meaningful measure, other than concentration of assets among the super-wealthy, did the country show any gains.

    People want to bitch about OFWs and how we have to outsource to survive? That started under Marcos.

    People want to bitch about our foreign debt? We’re still paying off behest loans.

    People want to bitch about the state of health and social services? Check out what happened during those 20 years.

    People want to bitch about the pervasive culture of impunity and corruption in local and national government? Well hell. Look at what Marcos and his boys did.

    And no, this does not mean to absolve subsequent governments and regimes from their share of the blame when it comes to perpetuating the issues that began under Marcos. But you see what I said there? Perpetuating. Meaning continuing all the shit that expanded under Marcos. No matter what, none of our presidents since have lived down to his standard. There have even been some positive gains compared to the state of the country in 1986.

    It is an absolute insult and stupidity whenever someone calls Marcos a ‘great president.’ By what measure? By amount of money stolen? By how much damage done to the social and political fabric of a country? By human rights violations committed?

    Again, just because the country has not substantially improved since 1986 does not mean that Marcos has all of a sudden become a good president. By having him buried in the Libingan the Marcos family and his loyalists reclamation of his legacy is complete. Even now, they attempt to point to his fake medals as some sort of redemptive attribute; as if we should the fact that they are fake and everything that came after the awarding of his few politically motivated and participatory medals. With him in that cemetery, they will be able to easily rebut any criticisms with: “Why look, he is a recognized Hero of the Republic.”

    All attempts to whitewash and recast Marcos as some sort of hero are misguided at best, ignorant in all cases and more than likely guided by another agenda at worst.