Politics is not something that I am particularly interested in. I have enough interest to read about issues and even to converse about them, but not enough to actually form a strong support for any particular movement. The piecemeal information I get on social networking sites is enough for me. But I take all those information with a grain of salt. If I do want to read more about an issue I look for more reliable sources. And I thought that’s how most people operate as well. Apparently it isn’t.
Over the past two years, I’ve seen opinion articles going around social media trying to glorify the achievements of the Marcoses and to whitewash the human rights abuses during the Martial Law era. And this makes me seriously afraid.
Piecemeal politics is one thing. Piecemeal history is quite another. I am deathly afraid that a young generation may grow up thinking that Ferdinand Marcos is a hero (as one article claims) or is “the best Philippine president” (as another one asserts). I have no problem if people form their own opinions on Marcos after having read sources from both the man’s supporters and detractors. But to make such claim after having read just one source is quite alarming.
The point I’m driving at is not so much about this one particular president but our whole disregard for historical fact in general. I’ve noticed that many countries that are able to progress are ones that have a very strong love for and knowledge about their past. They take care of their museums and their heritage sites as much as they do new constructions. Their citizenry is consciously aware of its own history as well as its role in the world. When people come to their country, they find ways of making people feel welcome without losing a sense of who they are.
In general, Filipinos are a very forgiving people. We’re quite forgetful too. (Not to mention our being very accepting of other cultural influences, sometimes to the point of losing our own.) When I was in college (many years ago), I had the opportunity to join a short-term foreign exchange program. One of our activities was to talk about Filipino culture and history in a local school in our host country. At the Q & A portion, the teacher said that he and his students had been reading about our People Power Revolution and were quite impressed. Then, they asked about the former dictator and his first lady. Shamefacedly I replied that she had been elected to public office and was at the time serving in Congress. At that point, I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. But I covered it up with a smile and said, “Our government is a work in progress.”
I could still say the same thing now. But I realize more strongly than ever that we can never truly progress unless we all have a very clear understanding not just of where we want to go but also of how we got to where we are.
[Originally written in TACKED THOUGHTS for The Freeman
by Nancy Unchuan Toledo]
About Nancy Unchuan Toledo
When Nancy started teaching high school at age 21, she didn’t really think she’d make a career out of it. She was right. Ten years later and she realized teaching isn’t her career, it’s her passion. Writing is her passion, too, and she writes a bi-monthly column for the Freeman. Mostly she writes about her family, her friends, her students, her experiences in teaching, her love of books and her faith. Because those are the things that she cares about the most–although not necessarily in that order.