‘If you create one ignorant generation, what will the next one be like?’ asks historian Jo-Ed Tirol, as he urges the youth to fight efforts to revise the dark chapter in Philippine history
‘TERRIBLE WAR’. Historian Jo-Ed Tirol calls on young Filipinos to stand their ground against the bid of pro-Marcos groups to sanitize the martial law years. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – In the era of fake news and the so-called "post-truth," there is a more important war that young Filipinos should fight to win, a historian said on Tuesday, February 21.
Ateneo de Manila University professor Jo-Ed Tirol spoke about this other war at the relaunch of Primitivo Mijares’ The Conjugal Dictatorship, considered as one of the most authoritative accounts of the early days of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ rule written by the strongman’s chief propagandist.
"There are two wars in this country. One is the war on drugs…but the bigger one, the more long-term one, is the war on memory," Tirol said.
"It is a terrible war on memory," he stressed, alluding to heated debates on martial rule and the Marcos years sparked by the vice presidential bid of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr and the burial of his father at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
Days ahead of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, the historian urged the younger generation to be active in the fight against the move to revise the nation’s history because this war has far higher stakes than the drug war.
"[We] will create an ignorant generation," he said. "History is our story, our narrative, our discourse that we shall never let anyone take away that is why we are rallying in the streets."
Tirol is crafting a curriculum to teach Martial Law at the college level, which would later be recommended to government agencies overseeing the education sector.
INSIDE ACCOUNT. Conjugal Dictatorship was authored by Primitvo Mijares who used to be late President Ferdinand Marcos’ top propagandist. Photo by Martin San Diego/Rappler
Weapons in war on memory
How will the youth fight this war on memory?
Former National Historical Commission of the Philippines chair Maria Sereno Diokno said Mijares’ books and other resources about the dark but pivotal period in Philippine history are key.
"Maganda itong mga aklat katulad nitong sinulat ni Primitivo Mijares at iyong mga darating pa sanang mga aklat, mga libro tungkol sa Batas Militar. At least, napipilitan din tayong mag-isip bilang lipunan, ano talaga ang mahalaga sa atin. Talaga ba itong nakaraan ay walang-wala nang kabuluhan?" Sereno said at the book event.
(These books authored by Primitivo Mijares and other books to be written about Martial Law are good resources. At least, we are forced to think as a society what is really important to us. Is the past really irrelevant?)
Diokno is the daughter of Filipino nationalist and late senator Jose "Ka Pepe" Diokno, who staunchly opposed the Marcos dictatorship. She resigned as NHCP chair from her post after Marcos was buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery.
Former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Etta Rosales, who was also at the event, said that The Conjugal Dictatorship and other similar references should be popularized on social media to get the attention of the youth.
Rosales, a Martial Law victim, also said that she is set to conduct human rights education in schools with the help of the church and civil society groups. She is also eyeing to tap the CHR’s help in her drive.
Mijares’ grandson JC Gurango, who led the launch of the book’s new edition, said it’s the young generation’s task to correct the way Martial Law has been taught in schools.
"It starts with the next generation, not the previous one. That’s why it’s very important that millennials are the ones to read this book, the ones to understand the implications," he said. – Rappler.com