The sly chameleonic old man,
the late dictator’s right hand,
told the dictator’s namesake son
that under his father’s martial law there was none —
no, not even one – arrested or sent to prison
for their political opinion, religion or similar such reason.
Oh yes, he said with a straight face,
there were those who were “inconvenienced”
(as if merely passing through a road being repaired)
with some period of being temporarily detained —
forgetting the beatings, isolation, electrocution
and other forms of torture they experienced
(as well as those who were involuntarily disappeared
or outrightly violently “salvaged”).
Outraged I may be at this version of history
(make no mistake, I am OUTRAGED definitely),
yet I think I can take what he said lightly –
I’d credit it to forgetfulness and senility
or maybe the old man was being shrewd and wily
and ingratiating himself with the son of the man he did betray.
But what leaves me really confounded
and has me scratching my head
is the number of people more or less my age
who hold in their heads a version of history
that ignores the painful experience of many
and glorifies as a nostalgic golden age
that era of legalized looting and carnage,
who peddle the abominable fiction
that the despot sought the nation’s salvation
while those who fought against his dispensation
were brainwashed simpletons or blinded by ambition
and who later engaged in historical manipulation
to make the dictator and his family appear like the demon.
I do not want to believe that these guys are being paid.
I do not want to believe that they’ve been brainwashed or misled.
I do not want to believe they’re mindless minions of the dictator long dead.
I do not want to believe that these people are blinded by idolatry and hatred.
I do not want to believe that these guys’ brains have been fried.
I do not want to believe all that because I want to believe
that these are people who believe sincerely in what they believe,
that these people are honest in what they say they believe,
and that they believe and say they believe in a truth they really perceive.
What then could be the plausible possible explanation
for such distorted (albeit perhaps honest) historical appreciation?
From where and how did they acquire such a different perception?
Long and hard did I rack my little brain in serious reflection,
hoping to find some reason for such an effing phenomenon
(which I am strongly tempted to call an aberration).
And finally, I have come to this realization, this conclusion:
These people who hold such a different historical perception
are actually, without their knowing it at all,
possessed by the consciousness of beings from a parallel dimension
or an alternative reality where things unfolded differently
although the characters were the same as here essentially.
I must have been watching
and reading too much science fiction
Eric S.B. Libre
25 October 2018
(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.)