BATANG MINDANAW: Taking a stand amid fears

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/21 September) — These days the prospect of waking up to a declaration of a nationwide implementation of Martial Law has become more probable. I fear the day that actually happens because it’s going to affect both the future generations and the generation that has already experienced it firsthand.

My heart aches every time I remember my parents. We’re from Mindanao which is currently under Martial Law, with the Maute Group’s siege of Marawi City being the justification for its declaration. Imagine having to experience Martial Law twice in your lifetime. Imagine how worse it would be if it gets implemented nationwide now. When that time comes labels like “Dutertard” or “dilawan” or “leftist”, which are anchored on false dichotomies, won’t matter anymore. Regardless of each of our “political color”, we’d all be under the threat of being violated, our human dignity robbed from us before we could even process it.

My parents don’t talk much about their Martial Law experiences, but they don’t have to. Survivor accounts of other victims were enough to paint the picture of how terrible a time it was for everyone. But I remember one Facebook post from my father the week Martial Law was declared in Mindanao. It was addressed to his fellow, younger journalists who might be covering dead bodies for the first time. Documenting corpses is never a pleasant experience but Martial Law forced him to desensitize. Imagine getting used to recording dead bodies not because you want to, but because you have to. Others had it worse.

Our professors often tell us that people in the academe should remain neutral in order to come up with an intelligent, objective analysis of the situation. Don’t let your emotions get involved, they say. Be academic, they say. But almost three years in the social sciences taught me that human phenomena is nothing short of nonlinear. And to hell with being “neutral” for the sake of maintaining the facade of being intellectual. I’m gonna take sides, and it’s not going to be with the oppressor. My choice to be in the academe is more than the socially constructed prestige of having a degree, but to take a stand for the things I think matter. So please, this is me imploring you to wake the f_k up and fight back.

I know that until now, some of us still have biases; some of us still find ways to justify this administration’s abominations. Even some of my teachers might even disagree with me, albeit they would be more intellectual with their arguments compared to most of the keyboard warriors online. I don’t know if it’s because they are older and think “I don’t have much time left in this world anyway,” or it’s because they see some political maneuver I still don’t have the capability to analyze. Nonetheless, this is me taking a stand. And this is me imploring others to do the same. I’m writing this 15 minutes before 3 AM on Wednesday, when I should either be reading in advance upcoming lectures or sleeping. My thoughts are all over the place and by the time I finish writing this it will already be 3 AM and I’d be too tired to edit it.

But Thursday, which Duterte has declared a National Day of Protest, was just around the corner. He was actually encouraging people to participate in the rally. However, he also said that should the rallies go chaotic, he is willing to declare Martial Law (…/martial-law-sept.-21-remote-possi…). A report from Rappler also stated that the administration has set a nationwide earthquake drill on the same day of the protests. That would give the president a legitimate excuse in deploying police forces everywhere, if ever. So please, be vigilant. But also, as long as you’re able, fight back.

To be honest, I sometimes find myself wanting to give up fighting for this country because it already looks like a lost cause to me. The concept of loving your country by default simply because it’s your country has become obsolete. Seemingly timeless nationalistic quotes like “[. . .] ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country” is no longer palatable. Instead I begin to ask questions like “What has this country ever done for us?” Pessimistic and disillusioned na po si ako. But after giving it some thought, I also ask: If I don’t do it, who will? If I decide to stop fighting for this country, that’s one less person trying to turn the tides. I’m not saying I’m a special snowflake and that I should be commended for deciding to fight back, because there are many others like me. But if I don’t do something, then it’s as good as actually taking side with the oppressor. That’s me letting them win.

I’m taking advantage of the fact that, fortunately, Martial Law has not been implemented nationwide yet (and let’s hope it remains that way). While I still have the freedom to post things like this, I will. Because if this were Martial Law and the authorities have seen it, my account could be suspended and I’d be in danger of being taken away. Again, my thoughts are all over the place but please, think about these things and realize that this is bigger than all of us. It’s not about you, Bimb. Wag kang ano. (Alexandria M. Mordeno, 18, is a third year Political Science student at Mindanao State University — Iligan Institute of Technology. His father was a human rights activist-writer during Martial Law.)