Essays and articles

Turning Points

Filipinos are a reflective people. No, we were known to be forgetful of our history. Like for instance why many would agree or prefer not to oppose the burial of the late Dictator on the “Heroes Burial Ground?”

Yes, we are a reflective people. At least, I know most Filipinos are. Take for instance the oldies in the civil society movement in the country. Those who have directly suffered from the hands of the late Dictator’s men had much to say against the idea of burying the long-dead corpse into this “sacred ground” for the patriots and nationalists alike. For those of us who had our youth budding in the 80’s and the EDSA revolution years, we can understand why such an idea is absurd and unthinkable.

At least in this one issue, the groups in the democratic center and left movements had similar views. The intensity of their opposition can be partly explained vis-a-vis their positions and engagement with the present DU30 regime.

This should not be the case.

Deaths can be a turning point in a people’s history. The execution of Dr. Jose P. Rizal in 1896 was one of the sparks of the Philippine Revolution against Imperial Spain. The assassination of Ninoy Aquino in August 21, 1983 was also a turning point in the country’s history. It signaled the emergence of civil society organizations to come-out from their UG states to openly challenge the Dictatorship. Eventually, in 1986 the Marcos Era ended. So we thought. Dead, he is still a bone of contention, on matters pertaining to his burial. He has long been given the last rites, mourned and romanticized by his wife and loyalists. In his own bailiwick, to be exact. That should have ended the issue.

Boy, is he really that lucky? Take the case of other Strongmen in history. How did they die? In the hands of their very own people, those who had suffered much under their regime.

We Filipinos are sometimes weird. Why we kill heroes and bury their killers in the Heroes’ Burial Ground? When I watched the film “Heneral Luna” with my youngest child, I was left speechless to explain to a very disappointed child why some Filipinos killed the guy?  It was one of those moments when I do not feel like being a Filipino at all.

Yes, it is true that Marcos was a good soldier and served the country. But as a leader of his own people, he had forgotten how to be a hero to them. Being the Head of State for ten years was enough to test his character as a person and leader. He obviously failed in the good governance test, or in the democracy meter.

The matter of his burial in the “Libingan ng mga Bayani” (Heroes Burial Ground) may not be that polarizing to the citizens. But how it will impact this generation and the next is something that we should reflect on.



Touch Base

One of the reasons why I have stayed long in working from home and at home is the need to touch base. In the span of time we progress as adults trying to carve a career or raise kids, we often outgrow asking those so called existential questions anymore. In fact, what is supposed to preoccupy us at this stage is asking questions like, “what have I achieved by now? what more can i do in the next five to ten years of my productive life?”

This does not mean tall orders or pursuing those impossible dreams we have when still at the height of one’s youth. By now, we have unraveled the maze that is handed to each one of us at birth. Your life a puzzle to solve. By now, you are fully aware of your purpose, of where you are going. Through a series of starts, wrong-turns, dead-ends and long walks, we come to understand that both the process and the results of our endeavors are priceless lessons. It makes us who we are today.

Touching base is not simply a trip down memory lane. It is finding the grace to accept those experiences without judgment. The choices we have made are often irreversible. But it does not suppose to get us stuck. Being there, in the moment and consciously untangling what we feel as anathema to who we are, what we believe in eventually sets us free to continue our own journey.