[Reflection] The Lesson of History


Defying the dictator. Photo from bulatlat.com

There is a saying that says “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” But I believe that those who learn from the lesson of history can create their own.

Yesterday was the commemoration of the 39th anniversary of Martial Law. For the younger generation, it maybe just one of the blurred pages in our history books, but for those who have witnessed these dark moments, it is certainly unforgettable.

Others might think that Martial law was not bad as it seemed but it is no doubt remains the symbol of oppression and repression in the country. It was the deathbed of our country’s freedom and democracy.

But after almost three decades, nothing seems to change.

Human rights violations are still rampant. Political beliefs and activities may appear to be tolerated but these are still the main reasons why activists are still put under surveillance, arrested, detained, forcibly disappeared or even killed. Although, there are now judicial remedies and human rights legislation that are supposed to provide better human rights protection but prosecution and conviction of human rights cases are still almost nil. Many if not all of the perpetrators of the past and recent violations remain scot-free while the victims and their families continue to suffer the consequences of their traumatic experiences.

We may now have the freedom of the press but many journalists have to spill their own blood for exposing the truth.

Many are still poor because the inequitable distribution of wealth is just getting wider. Development is meant to put people deeper in the mire of poverty. Our natural resources are no longer the country’s wealth but commodities for international capital and market.

Congress is now back in business but most of the time, it is still subservient to the interest of those who hold the nation’s coffer.  In fact, the Marcoses who are still enjoying the fruits of their ill-gotten wealth are back in the corridor of power.

We may have another Aquino in Malacanang but he is keen of preserving his name than preserving democracy.

Martial Law may be synonymous to a nightmare. But it made the Filipinos dream for a just, humane and free society. It made them value themselves, their dignity, their freedom and their rights. It ignited within themselves the fire of revolution that paved the road to EDSA and the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship.

Martial law may still be a painful memory. But it serves as a reminder for all of us that the real power lies in us.

The only way to ensure that Martial Law will not happen again nor by any chance it will rear its ugly face once more is for us to know our rights, to stand and defend these rights through individual and collective actions.

History is said to be unfolding.

But we should not let it move by itself.

We have to create it.

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5 thoughts on “[Reflection] The Lesson of History

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