By Christopher Ryan Maboloc
The Philippine Daily Inquirer
Asia News Network
Difficult as it may seem, Ferdinand Marcos’s burial in the Cemetery of Heroes had little to do with whether the late dictator was a hero. Heroism has no meaning to plunderers. The burial was simply a reaffirmation that in this country, it is power and not historical truth that dictates the destiny of men.
The hero’s burial only highlights the already obvious tragedy of everyday life for ordinary Filipinos.
Millions are slowly served their death sentences through hunger and homelessness. The exploitation of their powerless is apparent in the inability of a father to free his children from the bondage of poverty. But the kids’ fate has no meaning to most Filipino politicians. Yet, it is the children who bear most of the burden of the ill consequences of a corrupt regime.
And it is not as if we have a shortage of bright men and women; indeed what we lack is a sense of nationhood that characterises the soul of a people. For instance, Filipinos right now are willing to burn bridges and destroy friendships in pursuit of an incendiary opinion, not realising that it is the basic respect for another’s view that makes possible, in the first place, a person’s right to take his or her own.
There is no sense defending someone who does not even know you, and yet people nowadays consider it their right not to be corrected, forgetting that in matters of justice we have a fundamental responsibility for the truth above all else.
But times have not changed. Philippine society still languishes in its colonial hangover. Our dark past continues to live in our present: Education remains a privilege for those who can afford it, while the poor farmer still struggles for land, and the factory worker has yet to find what a decent living wage actually means.
In a democracy, social institutions are supposed to be the pedestals on which the public weal stands supreme. But if our institutions turn a blind eye to historical injustice, then there is not much hope for freedom and equality.
We are, of course, a freedom-loving people. But this love of freedom is at the same time the very reason we cannot enjoy what it means to be free: Most of us lack discipline, and this is the single reason our country has been unable to liberate itself from the deathly mask placed on its soul by colonial masters. This is the root of the weakness of our society – a weakness that has allowed a situation in which morality plays no significant role in the lives of many of our leaders.
Still, the Marcos narrative that is bedeviling us should not result in the death of our most cherished dreams. Democracy must not die because of a bad judgement from the Supreme Court. Real democracy is founded in the power of ordinary individuals to persevere in their pursuit of truth and justice.
In the world of politics, everything is always possible, including the worst things happening to good people. But if we must rebuild this nation, then our true task at hand is to prevent Marcos from rising from his grave.
Christopher Ryan Maboloc teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University.