By Aurelio S. Agcaoili, PhD
The number 33, if at all significant, is laden with some meaning to the historically-conscious Pinoy who grew up knowing only a single president, a single first lady, and some notoriety of the immediate family members of the country.
There is a repeat—some kind of an accursed story of the unbelievable even as Mike Arroyo is accused of the same crimes of jueteng payola as that of the deposed president Erap Estrada, he who promised so much to the suffering people but robbed them of their dreams.
But then to the present history of the Pinoy who needs to unravel the tangled knots of his collective self and soul.
The days of disquiet and the nights of rage, as one writer had put this phenomenon of darkness and dimness of the days of being Pinoy in the 60s, 70s, 80s, were days of uncertainties, many uncertainties that had something to do with how the dollar was faring well in the international market, how Ferdinand Marcos would keep on sending young Ilokano troops to Jolo, how the first lady would think of grandiose ways of making the international community come to the Philippines, make merry here, sing with gusto, dance on the lap of Filipino women forced to become prostitutes in the name of tourism.
Today is the 33rd year of that Proclamation 1081.
Those in school at this time would now see the bigger scheme of things and remember that the declaration was a sham and was for a show.
Then trusted lieutenant Juan Ponce Enrile confessed at the early days of the EDSA People Power I that he faked his ambush by the members of the rebel movement in order to expedite the declaration of martial law.
We look at the landmarks of that history gone haywire and we see that even before September 21, 1972, some kind of a Martial Law was already being planned and that only the neighbors of Malacanang did not know that Marcos had concocted this master plan long before.
We remember Kit Tatad, certainly, he with that voice lacking assertiveness except to parrot what the official press corps was writing about. Tatad was also a willing and able Marcos man. Being head of the press information office, he would certainly have known what was coming.
We might as well dismiis Tatad and the rest of them Marcos lieutenants who were willing to prove to the boss that they were loyal—to a fault.
We hear the voice of Marcos trying to explain himself to the listening and critical public, saying, among others, that that was the only way to make people understand.
We hear the voice of the generals as they affirm their faith in what the Marcos’s can do for us—for the nation.
We hear the voices of those in the radical movement and in one full sweep, for instance, university professors as supporters or executors, had become paranoid. Some say they would not know where to hide when the time had come.
We hear the voices of those massacred, tortured, summarily executed.
We hear the voices of the desaperecidos.
We hear the wailing and crying of fathers losing their children; of children losing their parents; of middle class that was about to crumble because their businesses are closing shop.
The dark days.
That dark and dim days.
These were all days of disquiet—the dark days of our refusal to forget that despite the fact that we kicked one bad president to another in order to help ourselves, at the very least.
Even as we refuse to forget, we remember the great life of those who stood by us. The statistics will rattle us—but just the same, news from some other sources sometimes makes more sense.
We count the dead.
We count those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
During Marcos’ watch of the republic, there was curfew. But here are the victims of the unruliness of the Marcos regime—the same unruliness that fires up the engine of fear and powerlessness before a “big man”: 22, 287 arrested; 706 disappeared, 880 massacred, 154 tortured; 2491 summarily executed.
We have not progressed ever since. But then again we have to do something. We need to account Arroyo and her friends.
Published in INQ V1N13, 2005