Article and Essay

Benjamin Pimentel: To young Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship

Necessary words from the ever-wise Benjamin Pimentel on the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law:

We joined the fight to get rid of a tyrant. And guess what – we won. And you won.

I know it’s hard to believe, especially given all the news of corruption and abuse and of people dying and disappearing.

But trust me: it was much, much worse back then. It was a much scarier, more violent time, when even the mildest criticism of government, of Marcos, of Imelda, could land you in jail or even get you killed.

Look at it this way. Some of you don’t like the current president. And you probably even joined the fad of Noynoying, making fun of the guy, calling him all sorts of names. You know what would have happened to you if you had tried a stunt like that during the Marcos years?

Marcos’s allies want you to forget that. They want you to see the long struggle against dictatorship, and the uprising that finally brought it down as wasted effort.

Which is really an absurd view if you think about it. It’s like telling our heroes and those who waged past struggles in our history that everything that happened, everything they did was a waste.

It’s like telling Jose Rizal, “You know those novels and essays and poems you wrote, including that last one you composed shortly before you were shot to death by the Spaniards, all that was a waste of time. For look at how messed up the country is right now.”

It’s like telling my own father, “Papa, joining the guerrillas was a stupid idea, given how the country whose freedom you defended against the Japanese has turned out.”

Fighting Marcos was worth it. For we took on a bully and we won.

This is not to downplay or dismiss the problems the country faces today.

And you should speak out about them. You should complain and protest. You should demand that things should be better, and you should go out there to try to make them better.

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