First published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 24, 2018
It’s that time of year again when “Magkaisa” is played on TV and radio, and ironically, when social media heats up with opposing viewpoints about the holiday the country will celebrate on Feb. 25.
What is the People Power Revolution to the Gen Z (or iGen, Edgers, Digital Natives) and why should this be a big deal?
Even I, a millennial tito, was not even born yet during the Marcos dictatorship, which ended through a peaceful revolution.
How much more remote that past is to my Gen Z nephews and nieces and students?
So really, what is Edsa to us? One word: legacy.
We grew up in a democtratic country that guaranteed free speech—the press is not controlled by government and, for decades, human rights have been respected and considered of utmost importance.
Those who lived through the Marcos years can’t say the same thing. We owe them the Edsa legacy. Then again, it may be difficult to appreciate such a legacy if we don’t realize what we were spared from—the dictatorial regime.
Here’s a rundown of facts on why we’re lucky not to have experienced martial law.
Civil rights were suspended during martial law—people were arrested with no warrants and were jailed indefinitely. There was no free speech and the press was practically controlled by the government, people heard only positive news.
If there was martial law today, social media would likely be restricted, if not controlled, and government-sponsored fake news blogs would be the only sources of news.
According to records of military abuse, 3,257 were killed, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 incarcerated.
The economy was really bad in the waning years of the Marcos regime, when the effects of excessive debts were felt. The peso-to-dollar exchange rate at the start of the Marcos presidency was below P5. A year before he fled, it was almost P20. The inflation rate in the ’80s was the worst in our history, based on World Bank statistics and the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Ferdinand Marcos was ranked second in Forbes’ All-Time Most Corrupt Leaders list—the estimated amount he stole could reach $10 billion. The Presidential Commission on Good Government has recovered less than $4 billion.
So, why are there still many Marcos supporters and why is there still ambivalence, if not confusion, about martial law?
Perhaps that’s what years of misinformation and propaganda can do. The question now is, how do we move forward as a country and protect the legacy of Edsa?
Let’s equip ourselves with the proper knowledge of our history, as well as of current events. Let’s practice on checking the credibility and reputation of our information sources.
Information and records from the World Bank, Transparency International, peer-reviewed works of historians and legit news can beat random YouTube propaganda channels and fake news sites any day.
Some people who suffered during the Marcos regime might belittle our ability to have an informed opinion on the issue—that we were not even born yet at that time.
Let’s remember that facts and records from reputable and credible sources have more weight in discussions over personal anecdotes.
If we are to protect our freedom, we cannot afford to be silent. I understand we might feel apprehensive at times to speak up against someone who tells lies and propagate historical revisionism, both online and in real life. We might be seen as being impolite or, worse, a source of discord.
However, if we don’t speak up, our silence can be interpreted as acquiescence to the lies. We have the option, though, and it would be better to correct such misinformation in a polite and tactful manner without compromising the truth.
The spirit of the Edsa revolution was anchored on the Filipino people’s thirst for truth and freedom. Amid the lies, misinformation through fake news and disregard for human rights that our nation has been facing lately, let’s not forget the true legacy of Edsa: truth and freedom.
I would like to share these quotes from two great fictional characters. First, “Noli Me Tangere’s” Elias, the unsung hero: “I die without seeing dawn’s light shining on my country… You, who will see it, welcome it for me… don’t forget those who fell during the nighttime.”
And what kind of a millennial tito would I be if I didn’t share the wisdom of our mentor from Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore: “It is important to fight and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then can evil be kept at bay though never quite eradicated.”
Let’s continue the fight for truth and freedom, my dear Gen Z.
Artwork by Apollo Hernandez