whiffs of fiction, “public history” 2018

kakaiba ang timpla ng pro-marcos discourse, mas maanghang, mas palaban, mas mayabang.  para kaya maipaabot sa, and impress upon the, supremes where (they think) public sentiments lie, in aid of bongbong winning his PET case and taking over as veep?  next stop, the presidency?

sa social media, kaabang-abang ang tete-a-tete nina juan ponce enrile at ferdinand “bongbong” marcos.  on sept 20 tungkol sa martial law, on sept 22 tungkol sa EDSA.

i expect that the exercise is meant to glorify martial law and to villify EDSA.  it would be nice though if the two could be a little more candid and and even-handed. just as we, who are all set to scream revisionism!!! need to get a better handle on martial law and EDSA.  martial law was not all bad just as EDSA was not all good.

a question i hope is addressed in da tete-a-tete:  so, anong nangyari?  bakit pabagsak na ang ekonomiya by 1982, even before ninoy’s assassination?

sabihin pa natin, for the sake of argument, that marcos did all the right things re infrastructure (except for a lemon or two) and he was able to electrify almost half the archipelago (not all of it, not even close) and he got uncle sam to pay rent for the US bases (kahit binarat tayo nang katakut-takot) atbp, not to speak of how culture and the arts kinda blossomed because of (and despite) imelda:  bakit hindi na-sustain ang “progress”?  bakit biglang ayaw nang magpautang ng mga bangko?  bakit di tayo nakabayad ng mga utang?  bakit ba talaga hindi naging isang singapore ang pinas?

it would be great to hear nationalists in the academe — the historians, the political scientists, the economists — having tv tete-a-tetes with the populace and sharing their findings on questions like these.  we need answers based on facts, figures, records, documents.  so we all — the elected and the electorate alike — can learn the lessons we need to learn, so we can correct our mistakes, so we can move forward.

the last thing we need is a conference of historians perorating on a notion of “public history” (now ongoing 20-22 sept) that i fear would legitimize, validate fictional (partisan, and/or “creative”) accounts of historical events, among other historical and cultural horrors.

bakit wala silang criteria of any kind?  ano ito, let’s just be glad that we’re talking history, even if reeking of fiction and propaganda?  i would sit in judgment: is the opinion sound and balanced?  is it based on facts?  the slightest whiff of fiction should be red-flagged and merit automatic rejection from the annals of public history.

it’s not as if our historians have nothing else to do.  every september and february we hear it repeated that marcos did not give shoot orders that would have harmed civilians in EDSA.  credible eyewitness and first-person accounts say he did.  so who’s revising history?  our historians, academic or “public”, should be weighing in.  otherwise, anong silbi nila?

si luna, si goyo, at si … quezon?

kung sabagay, antihero naman silang tatlo in real life.  as in, lacking truly heroic attributes.  for all their dramatics in reel life, neither luna nor goyo nor quezon is in the league of jose rizal and andres bonifacio.

one thing, however, that rizal and bonifacio, luna and goyo have in common is that they were killed, they died, for country in the prime of their revolutionary lives.  rizal in 1896, bonifacio in 1897,  luna and goyo in 1899.  freedom was non-negotiable.

quezon, who was 3 years younger than goyo and lived to a relatively ripe old age of 66, did not take part in the 1896 revolution (his family in baler is said to have remained loyal to mother spain), hardly engaged in military battle in the fil-am war, and post-fil-am war was principal collaborator in the, sadly, successful campaign to suppress the nationalist clamor for immediate independence from america. [Michael Cullinane. Ilustrado Politics: Filipino Elite Responses to American Rule 1898 to 1908. Ateneo de Manila Press, 2003; Alfred W. McCoy. Policing America’s Empire: The United States, The Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State. University of Wisconsin Press, 2009]

kumbaga, quezon was america’s boy all through the american occupation and the commonwealth — he came to dominate and shape local and national politics to his liking, creating the template for political ops, with the approval, of course, if not with some maneuvering on the part, of imperial america.  this is not to say that quezon does not deserve a film, he absolutely does, he was quite a colorful figure, on so many levels. but he belongs to another time in our history.  he belongs in a different trilogy.  or puwede ring stand-alone.

but wait.  the quezon film daw will cover the 1935 elections where quezon trounced aguinaldo in the run for president of the commonwealth.  so, iyun na mismo ang thread of the trilogy?  a three-punch swing at aguinaldo for ordering the execution of bonifacio, i suppose, and for selling out to spain with the pact of biak na bato, i guess, and for naively trusting that the americans would withdraw once the battle against spain was won?

in fairness, after luna and goyo, aguinaldo deserves his day in court.  let’s hear his side of the story.  why did he have to have bonifacio killed?  why was it so difficult giving bonfiacio credit where credit was due him.  what made it so impossible for him and bonifacio to get their act together, that is, to work conspire fight together against a common enemy?  what was he thinking when he agreed to stop fighting spain?  how surprised was he by the treaty of paris whereby america bought the philippines from spain for $20M?

we don’t need more historical fiction.  we need facts and intelligent conjecture.  we need to learn from our history — not just from juicy details but from the big picture that reveals the patterns we need to break away from so we can blaze new trails.

trillanes, honasan, duterte

kung sinosino na ang narinig natin sa radyo’t TV from both sides, yes or no: does the president have the power to revoke a grant of amnesty?  may kapangyarihan ba si duterte na bawiin ang amnestiya na ibinigay iginawad in-award ni pNoy kay senator trillanes some 8 years ago?

tony la vina and rene saguisag, even nene pimentel and ramon tulfo, are aghast that the president dares, while harry roque and rex robles and robin padilla are hardly surprised — after all, trillanes has been such a persistent thorn in their beloved president’s aching sides, and there ARE consequences.

son paulo and daughter sara’s hubby have already chimed in with serious libel suits against the senator.  hindi sanay ang mga duterte na china-challenge sila in public, napipikon sila, lalo pa ngayon na pangulo na si digong at global ang stage.  proceed at your own peril, ika nga.  mabangis pating watchdog si solgen calida, whose sense of ethics is kinda exceptional, as in, merong exceptions to the rules.  puwede ring exemptional, as in, exempted siya?

but the one i’m  waiting to hear from is senator gringo honasan, the original coup plotter (at least 5 daw, excluding EDSA Uno) in the time of cory, the worst of it in 1989 when i first heard of oakwood, one of the buildings taken over by rebel soldiers in the heart of makati’s business district.  THAT was a violent attempt to grab power from cory, innocent civilians died, yet very early in FVR’s presidency, he granted honasan amnesty.  in contrast, not a single shot was fired in the oakwood mutiny led by trillanes with, it is said, honasan’s blessings.

tama ba, sa tingin ni gringo, itong ginagawa ni duterte at ni calida kay trillanes?  does trillanes deserve to be treated differently from every other rebel soldier who has been granted amnesty?  gringo’s silence is deafening.  in contrast, fellow reformist and mutineer now duterte apologist rex robles is so maingay.   but wait.  has robles been granted amnesty?  or is he still angling kasi for one?

rex robles is among those in the list of RAM members who asked Duterte for amnesty in august 2017, just a year ago, na sinamahan pa ni honasan.  napagbigyan na ba ng presidente ang hiling?  kung hindi pa, bakit hindi siya nakakulong pero ibig niyang ipakulong si trillanes?  does the grant, and sustainability, of amnesty hinge on all-out support for the president, right or wrong?  and can the president also void FVR’s grant of amnesty to honasan in case gringo reverts (we wish?) to rebel mode?

and what about duterte himself?  di ba’t late and super-convoluted ang pag-file niya ng certificate of candidacy back in october 2015?  sasabihin siyempre ng mga ka-DDS na the people have spoken, they voted for him anyway.  but the same can be said of trillanes.  sabi nga ni former senator rene saguisag:

As jurors, the people acquitted Trillanes in 2007. With scarce resources, political detainee Sonny became a senator…

… Anyway, what requires an amnesty in our scofflaw nation is one forgiving 1,500,000 personnel in government who have not complied with Sec. 7 of R.A. 3019, of Senator Turing Tolentino, requiring them to report annually their income earned, expenses incurred, and taxes paid. This requirement, SolGen Calida hammered on in ousting Chief Justice Meilou Sereno but did not himself comply with. Haz lo que digo, no lo que hago? Do as I say, not as I do?

in defense of ninoy

i wonder how leloy claudio feels to find that his essays painting ninoy aquino red were widely posted and shared on facebook by pro-marcos peeps on ninoy’s 35th death anniversary.  in his place i would be soooo mortified.  imagine.  wittingly or unwittingly, giving credence to ferdinand’s charge that ninoy was a communist-coddler.

read gmanetwork‘s Ninoy networked with everyone, Reds included and rappler‘s Ninoy linked up with the Left to aid presidential ambition, and weep.  claudio draws from nick joaquin’s The Aquinos of Tarlac (1983), his own interviews of communist personalities led by jose maria sison who confirm, of course, the links with ninoy (it is in their interest, after all, to do so), and on US embassy documents, most of the material finding their way to his book Taming People’s Power: The EDSA Revolutions and their Contradictions  (Ateneo de Manila Press 2013).

what claudio’s work lacks, and glaringly, scandalously, disgracefully so, is ninoy’s side, that is, ninoy’s own account of his relations with the left that, along with his critique of the communist ideology, is painstakingly spelled out in Testament from a Prison Cell (1984).  written 1975 to 1977 it was meant to be his closing statement before military commission no. 2 that sentenced him to death by musketry for subversion, collusion with communist dante buscayno in a 1957 murder, and illegal possession of firearms.  the closing statement that he was not allowed to read/from in open court.  the closing statement that cory published the year after ninoy’s assassination.

In this statement, Aquino explains the meaning of his obstinate struggle, his ideology and his proposed strategy for national survival.  He seeks to focus the attention of the Filipino people and the world on the wanton violations of human rights by the martial law administrators.  He identifies the victims of torture and their torturers, and reveals the torture methods used by Marcos’ military investigators. By citing case after appalling case, he describes how detainees have been framed with confessions brutally tortured out of them — and how others, especially Marcos’ uncompromising political enemies, are framed with similarly secured confessions.  It is Aquino’s most powerful indictment of the Marcos dictatorship which held him prisoner for more than seven years.  [Introductory Note]

This brief but moving testament of one man’s convictions–a man self-described as “a humanist, a democrat and a romantic”–was written in a prison cell <…>  What is presented here is Aquino’s elegant, reasoned defense of his political views (Christian Socialist), his outline for an ideal society (freedom of the individual is all-important), and a family history of patriotism (both his father and grandfather were “imprisoned for serving the Filipino people”). Bleeding through the text’s rationale and legalese is a current of unabashed passion from a man who believed in his cause.  [https://www. publishersweekly.com/978-0- 9621695-1-9]

can it be that claudio does not know about, and therefore has not read, the book?  or did he choose to ignore it because he would have had to rethink his sophomoric conclusions re ninoy’s alliance with the left?

NINOY AQUINO: I am not a communist.  I have never been one.  I have never joined any communist party.  I am not — and never have been — a member of any illegal and/or subversive organization, or even a front organization.

Yes, I have met with communist leaders and members of subversive organizations both as a newspaperman and as a public servant as far back as 1954.  In fact, the government awarded me the highest civilian award precisely for what my pacification parleys with rebels and subversives had achieved.

President Magsaysay made use of my services as a negotiator not only with the communist-led dissidents in Central Luzon but also with Muslim outlaw leaders.  Indeed, I consider my ability to communicate with the leaders of the various dissident movements as well as my understanding of their causes as one of my special qualifications for high office.

I have been a student of communism, especially the Philippine communist movement, for the last two decades.  I have written many papers, delivered many lectures on the Huks, who later became the HMBs and who, still later, became the CPP/NPAs, their aims, their inner dynamics, and motivations, both in the Philippines and abroad.

If I had planned to seek the Presidency in 1973,  it was because I sincerely believed I had the key to the possible final solution to the vexing dissident (communist) problem.

I was first exposed to communism as a young teenager shortly after the war, in 1945, when my hometown of Concepcion was literally occupied by the Hukbalahaps.  Our town mayor, an avowed Huk, was appointed by the dissident group.

In 1950, I was assigned by the Manila Times to cover the UN police action in Korea with special emphasis on the participation of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK).  I witnessed the brutal massacre of innocent civilians by fleeing communist forces.  Barely 18, I learned firsthand from North Korean survivors how the communists governed and regimented their people, how all freedoms were suppressed, especially the rights to peaceful assembly, religion and free speech.  Some of my most poignant early newspaper stories dwelt on the grimness of existence under communist totalitarian rule.  [pp 14-15]

… I have been a student of theoretical Marxism.  I have followed every twist and turn of our local communists.  I have read practically all the published works of our local Reds. Whenever possible, I interviewed communist intellectuals to get first-hand information.

This, however, does not mean that I have embraced communism, much less joined any communist or subversive organization. On the contrary, I would like to believe that I convinced some of the dissidents to return to the fold of government, as in the case of Mr. Taruc.

I have never advocated the overthrow of the government by force and violence, much less the establishment of a totalitarian regime. Or worse, placing this country under the domination and control of an alien power. [15-16]

… In my speeches, both in and out of Congress, I advocated a more humane approach to the dissident problem.  I denounced the use of para-military units, like the Monkees, who summarily executed barrio residents suspected of NPA links.  My exposes brought me  into a collision course with Mr. Marcos and his military subordinates.

In May 1966, barely five months into office, Mr. Marcos branded me a “Huk coddler and sympathizer” when I, as governor of Tarlac, denounced the massacre of farmers in Barrio Culatingan, Concepcion, Tarlac, by a group of Monkees led by a PC Ranger.  It is indeed an ironic twist that while I stand today charged with communist subversion, Mr. Marcos is adopting some of my recommendations in 1966: a liberal program of amnesty for returning dissidents, resettlement and a vigorous land reform program.

…Many of our countrymen have been conditioned to automatically believe that the dissidents, be they Huks, HMBs or CPP/NPAs, are not only communists or communist-led, but are evil personified.  I do not believe they are per se evil.  Assuming they are evil, they are a necessary evil.

Were it not for the Huks, President Magsaysay would never have pushed through Congress the landmark Rice Tenancy Act, which provided for tenants’ security of tenure and the itemization of the division of produce.  Known as the 70-30 Rice Law, that law for the first time gave the tenant the sole option to remain a tenant or become a lessee.  [26]

… And when Macapagal, a son of Central Luzon, was elected President, the country witnessed the enactment of the first comprehensive Land Reform Code in the Philippines, seminal though it was.  Congress passed it in 1963; but only after President Macapagal had called the reluctant Congress to several special sessions, wearying the landed interests in the Senate and the House until they gave in.  This is the Land Reform Code now being implemented by Mr. Marcos.

Indeed our wealthy Filipinos have yielded only under mounting social pressure — never of their own volition.  Without the Sakdals, without the Huks, without the NPAs, our toiling people would still be serfs in a kasama or land tenancy system as feudal as in any feudal state.

The dissidents, I concede, have committed many acts of murder and depredation.  Many have already paid for their crimes with their lives or with long prison terms.  But it must be equally admitted that because of their unremitting struggle, our society and our people’s social conditions have improved. [27]

… let us not forget: This Republic was founded by rebels and insurgents who were hunted down like mad dogs in their own time.  My own grandfather was one of those hunted men.  Some of our greatest heroes — Frs. Gomez, Burgos and Zamora; Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio — were all executed for treason.  Yesterday’s traitors are today’s heroes!

… If I have gone out of my way to meet with insurgents, if I have given them shelter and medical aid when they came to me, bleeding and near death, it was because I was convinced these dissidents were freedom-fighters first — in their own light — and if they were communists at all, they were communist last.

… They might have been dissidents.  But to me they were brother Filipinos who deserved the right to be heard.  My intention was to prevent them from becoming hopelessly desperate — and to give them a feeling of belonging.  By lending them a hand and a sympathetic ear, I wanted to hold out to them the hope for a better future. [28]

… I believe that freedom of the individual is all-important and ranks above everything else.  Every citizen must be given the equal opportunity to self-fulfillment, to better himself.  While it is true indeed that not all men are equally endowed, I believe that every man should be given the equal opportunity for advancement through free, universal and quality education.

Confidence between the majority and the minority, between the government and the governed, is indispensable to the vitality of a democracy.  There can be no confidence where established rights are destroyed by fiat.

… The supreme value of democracy is freedom, not property.  The democratic world will meet the communist challenge if it upholds and unites on the issue of freedom as the fundamental element of human survival.

… A free media is indispensable if a democracy is to function efficiently, if it is to be real.  The people, who are sovereign, must be adequately informed all the time.  A reasonable case, reasonably presented, will eventually win the hearts of the people.  But the people must know the facts if one expects them to decide correctly.

I  believe democracy is not just majority rule, but informed majority rule, and with due respect for the rights of minorities.  It means that while the preference of the majority must prevail, there should be full opportunity for all points of view to find expression.  It means toleration for opposition opinions.  Where you find suppression of minority opinion, there is no real democracy [30-31]

The basic flaw of capitalism is its primary concern for political liberty; it cares comparatively less about social and economic equality.  Communism, on the other hand, aims at social and economic equality but ruthlessly opposes and destroys political liberty.

I believe in a Christian Democratic Socialist ideology that will harmonize political freedom with social and economic equality, taking and merging the best of the primary conflicting systems — communism and capitalism.

… I believe in evolutionary reform and I regard all human life as equally priceless, regardless of circumstances.  I hold individual freedom most sacred, because it is God’s gift.  I cannot accept any form of dictatorship, whether of the left, the right or the center. [31]

… I adhere to an evolutionary program.  This must always stand the test of national approval as expressed through periodic elections, plebiscites, referenda, which will ensure that the program is implemented — and will continue to be implemented — only with the consent of the majority freely expressed. [32]

a primary source such as Testament from a Prison Cell is a must-read, especially for an academic, a historian yet! like claudio, who dares write on, and devalue, the legacy of ninoy aquino.

bad enough that the marcoses continue to revise EDSA history.  worse, that claudio, wittingly or unwittingly, has given the marcos camp ammunition to shoot down ninoy yet again.  claudio should be apologizing to nation for irresponsible “scholarship.”  the same goes for his editorial team and academic consultants.


read gary devilles’ review of claudio’s book here  https://muse.jhu.edu/article/ 620451/summary

more from ninoy’s Testament:
The Filipino as Dissident  
A Christian Democratic Vision  
Manifesto for a Free Society