So, the deed is done: a burial controversial,
surreptitious, conspiratorial (verging on illegal?)
for a deposed ruler branded dictatorial.
While those who to him remain loyal
smile broad and laugh triumphant,
others like me grieve and are indignant.
I grieve because I remember:
comrades and friends who fell
in the night of that long September —
defiantly ringing freedom’s bell
in the face of authoritarian rule;
the thousands thrown in jail —
there unfreedom and torture to suffer —
and hundreds made to disappear
in the name of law and order;
the farming and indigenous communities
of their lands and livelihoods dispossessed
and from their domiciles displaced
by plunder the dictatorship legalized in the name of progress;
and the ordinary folks in many places
harassed and violently, summarily killed
for standing up for their rights,
defending the land on which they lived.
I am indignant because:
there are those who would have us forget
the sufferings and indignities of that dark night,
making the new generation believe the lie it was alright
(in fact, “golden years” that were so bright);
those who inherited the “blessings” of that darkness
now strut about proudly unrepentant and remorseless
while their minions and allies with disdain dismiss
the pain and indignation of those who suffered and remember that darkness;
there are not a few amongst us who it seems
would have us desensitized and are themselves desensitized
to the draconian measures and arbitrariness
which led to and reigned supreme in those dark days.
My grief and indignation I am tempted to express
by marching again with placards in the streets,
shouting in anger with raised clenched fists,
to my rage giving vent by burning effigies.
But the marching and walking could get my knees aching,
the angry shouting could send my blood pressure soaring,
and a stroke could result from the heat and excitement —
so, I’d rather just sit here and do some reflecting.
Marching, chanting on the streets with indignation
to get people’s attention and capture their imagination
remains an important part of the struggle to be carried on.
In the courts of law, one or another legal motion
and elsewhere (online or wherever) all sorts of petition
seeking to review and reverse that SC decision,
maybe even to get that mannequin(?) removed from the national pantheon
and have it laid to rest in some other place where it is fitting to belong.
But if all these efforts would be to no avail
let us not forget that there is an arena of struggle still,
where we can win and which we must have to win
so those martyrs and victims would not have lost their lives in vain —
the all-important arena of our very people’s collective mind,
our common memory as a nation from generation to generation
which has to be defended from historical revisionism and distortion
seeking to replace truth and facts with fiction and fabrication.
Winning the fight in this arena calls for unremitting efforts
away from the cameras and mostly devoid of media coverage,
bringing together solid research and people’s stories
that would bring to life the events and experiences
that truly depict the realities of that era of darkness
and through a variety of creative means spread these
such that these become part and parcel of the consciousness
of the young and old in the country’s many nooks and crannies.
It may matter little even if the dictator’s remains (or whatever it is in that coffin)
simbakó in that plot in Taguig shall after all be ruled to remain,
for as long as the dark truths of his long brutal and thieving reign
are brought to light and not glossed over or deviously hidden,
the sacrifices and heroism of those who fought are valued and not forgotten,
the ideals of freedom and justice those left behind continue to defend
against the onslaughts, subversion and machinations of the forces of unfreedom and repression.
Eric S.B. Libre
28 November 2016
(Eric S.B. Libre is a Mindanawon freelance development consultant who has done some work in a number of conflict-affected areas of Mindanao and occasionally dabbles in creative writing. He lives in Digos City, and is proud to be a senior citizen.)