Above the din of debates for and against the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani emerges a voice that may well speak for the many, if not the majority, of Filipinos. Resurgent contributor Rene A. Lizada reawakens the maelstrom of angry rhetoric and posits just how it is to be in the middle of it all.
So what now?
To ask the victims of Martial Law to move on is not only stupid but insulting. They cannot and will never move on until they believe justice is served. Their target is the Marcos family. And as we all know that family will never apologize nor admit to the tortures, the disappearances, the killings. As far as the Marcoses are concerned, they did a great service to this country. Their father, after all, is now buried among heroes. The victims will never find their justice and the Marcoses are now content. So what now?
Martial Law was declared in 1972. It is now 2016. And we are still under Martial Law. We are stuck with Martial Law. The moment one suggests a national I.D. system, fears of martial law surface. When emergency powers are asked for, martial law thoughts emerge. The battlecry of the Aquino family is remember martial law and remember Ninoy who died for the Filipino. They will never ever make us forget the sacrifice of their family for country. Remember! We are still under martial law. So what now?
Look at how low we have sunk. They bury the dead in secret and we protest like mad. We are insulted with this abomination of justice or rather injustice. We want the body exhumed—no, we demand it. Really? We want to dig up the body? Then right on cue the other family in righteous anger screams Remember! The Catholic Church suddenly finds its voice crying out for human rights while keeping mum about Yolanda and pedophile priests. We get different interpretations of justice. Some want justice with apologies. Others say be Christian and let God decide. No, we must fight. Yes, we have to move on. We are stuck. So what now?
The Marcos and Aquino camps are fighting each other while the rest of the country take sides blindly. Our father is a hero. The Filipino is worth dying for. Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo and Bayan Ko. Rich kids take to the streets and call it awakening. Poor kids take the streets and are called “ginamit.” Nuns ask for justice and yet are silent about the Luisita Massacre. Victims are enraged. Rich college students take to the streets with their “Make busina for hustisya.” Netizens respond with “mga oligarch kayo.” We are stuck. So what now?
Hatred. Revenge. Hypocrisy. Bitterness. Injustice. Mas ma-utak kami sa inyo kaya wala kayong karapatan. Mocha Unson a journalist? OMG! Some of our brightest are acting dumb. Some of our bishops spew fire on sin and yet are quiet about a certain woman’s “frailties.” Why? Sus naman you know why. Oligarchs. Reds. Bayaran. We know better than you because we are righteous and we are on the right side. You are being used. Gago kayo. Some of the older generation are asking people to move on. The young cry out JUSTICE! The old ask, you were not even born during martial law. The young reply we do not have to be. Stuck. So what now?
We are where we are at best: In the self destruct mode. We cry out for human rights and yet our concept of human rights is dictated upon by the colors we carry. Our levels of justice vary according to the stupidity of our blindness. Our rage depends on the fences on which we sit. Love for country in this country is a joke and the biggest clowns are the ones claiming love of country. We all know what they truly love. Freedom fighters only fight for their respective clients. Truth is a bygone thing. Media says it fights for it and it gets ballyhooed for reason. Truth is a victim of loyalties and utang na loob. We are righteous when it suits our agenda. We seethe with anger when we should all be laughing at our hypocrisies. We think we are the best when we are the worst. The past haunts us like the present. The future looks hopeless because of the present. And so we ask one more time with feeling, what now?
Do not ask me. I do not know the answer. All I know is that we are stuck. We cannot move. We are going around in circles. In the meantime, the protests continue, the dead drug users pile up, the educated and the intelligent will not listen to those who are not “ka level.” The yellows will seek their selective justice. The Bagong Lipunan will try to be heroes again. We will continue to elect jerks into office. And we will laugh at our misery and curse the traffic. And curse even more the senselessness which we cannot see. And then we smile at our fate and wait till next Christmas.
And we shall forever wonder, When shall we ever get out of this? Which brings us back to: So what now?
(Mr. Lizada taught English and Literature for 20 years at the Ateneo de Davao. He conducts trainings on Public Speaking, Creative Writing, Management Communication, and Classroom Management for public and private sector groups. As an author, he came out with collections of his essays in 2009 and 2013.)