HR 1109 goes to the archives?

A different wind somehow blew across the sea of privilege speeches that attended this week’s plenary session of the House of Representatives. A voice is heard to have made the appeal to have the controversial HR 1109 be now archived as a kind of tribute to the passing of the icon of democracy – former President Corazon Aquino, more popularly known as ‘Tita Cory’. More pressures need be applied to raise the threshold to a deciding vote – and to kill the bill, if it can. And if so willed, it will be the highest mark of political maturity in a society given to blind reverence to an oblique sense of commonality in beliefs. The Filipino people think as the single shining icon of democracy the once ordinary wife of Marcos’ most vocal critic and self-styled political arch rival, Ninoy.

History can be uncharacteristically subjective in that Marcos has been cast in the historical light as a dictator as though FM truly gave democracy a bad name both in the domestic as well as international front. But more serious observers of trends would have to rethink otherwise. Future historians will see clearly through the mess of historical distortions that have already characterized books so far written on the subject. It is taking few more years to get the record straight precisely because even blind reverence can be passed on from one generation to another. Hence, the next piece of historical work must overcome this misplaced belief as it can tend to make the work of historians one of mere heresy. One can be a willing artisan in this work of historical reconstruction, should there be.

It is all about 1986 at EDSA – a dream that turned into a nightmare.

And it carried more myths than facts over the years largely because it has been viewed from the point of view of those who think they are their ‘real historical authors’. But it is of such authorship bound by a kind of ‘star complex’, a sense of ‘moral supremacy’, and a self-sustaining ‘elitist idiosyncrasy’. No one ordinary citizen, no one ordinary soldier, no one ordinary victim – is allowed to speak the truth of what really happened those crucial points in history. In other words, the claim of heroism by self-congratulatory ‘heroes’ may well be bogus because of the poverty of its historicism. Put simply, Cory could not have been the symbol of individual achievement to restore democracy for it is more correctly, an inalienably collective act. But who really butchered democracy during Marcos so-called reign of authoritarian rule? Have they now become the modern icons of principled democracy?

Histories of EDSAs have been purposively distorted.

There is need to rewrite history and the historical pendulum must swing from the purely subjectivist bias to the simply objectivist view. Theoretically, we should not demonize Marcos in order to evangelize Cory, as if it were. The moral currency cannot be changed whether it is in Marcos time or in all post-Marcos presidencies. A kind of romanticist attitude reverent of Cory as the seemingly penultimate icon of democracy carries the virus of social contagion. People across generations might tend to believe a myth that has been perpetuated by Marcos’ political detractors and critics.

Young minds have been inquisitive. They want to know why Tita Cory is given all the attention she is getting with her death. They want to study history and read about Tita Cory to reach an understanding of the presumably great things she must have done for the country and the Filipino people. So what should parents or adults tell the youth quite aside from what available literature have so far been supplied? The so-called EDSA Revolution of 1986 saw the fall of the Marcos regime and the defense and military establishment, rightly or wrongly, placed Cory as the new president.

Cory served only a single term from 1986 to 1992 as president. It then becomes a question on whether that term of office really outshines her predecessor or that of her successor. There ought to be a corpus of data or body of facts that historians can build into intelligent, objective, and empirically verifiable historical constructs. We must compare the power structure under at least three successive presidencies – come up with a matrix – and compare the Marcos regime, Cory’s much-vaunted democratic rule, and Fidel V. Ramos’ US-styled reign along quantitative and qualitatively units of measure or value and let us see what a more objective history can tell us. No single work has yet been done, it would appear so far.

Two other presidents came after FVR – Erap and then GMA. It will do well if they are included in the matrix for their contemporary historical value. Then again, let us do the calibration along well-defined terms of reference. And it would seem that nothing from the time of Marcos’ so-called one-man rule and conjugal dictatorship on to Cory’s yellow army and somewhat pseudo-communist bent toward that of FVR’s military-styled leadership past that of Erap’s anticlimactic presidency cut short by a military-civil society conspiracy pulled by GMA – have really changed except if we want to, once and for all, really examine their individual merits and demerits. Every empirical unit of history must be read in the intellectual radar screen for historians, scholars, students and researchers to do an assessment.

To my mind, no one compares like Marcos and all his seminal works.

Not few quarters do still believe that Marcos who indeed declared martial law is the kind of strongman that a society like the Philippines needs. Come to think of it, in all subsequent presidencies, it is clear that he remains the political currency in our national life. Not few governments find the close military or defense aides of their presidents succumb to acts of political betrayal to take over if not bastardize legitimate reigns of power and it should be an anachronism in all time continuum – past, present, future. Philippine political culture makes permissible every form of betrayal and treachery and there seems to be no way out of the noose. It’s kaput. And HR 1109 is still the Trojan Horse that it is – beware! But even traitors become presidents and senators, don’t they?

With Cory’s death, there is a kind of a social fever and the hearse has become a rallying symbol of democracy under threat with the passing of its savior. The way the whole nation and an entire people pay their last respect and homage to the former lady president is somewhat symptomatic of the kind of what a foreigner objectively coins as our ‘damaged culture’. We probably suffer from a severe moral deficit until we are able to make corrections in our ‘moral balance sheet’. At this point, we can find comfort in reading that once great American rhetoric of Martin Luther King in his “I have a dream”.