The Bong is Wrong

Marian Pastor Roces

The Marcos spawn was germinated between despots and suckled on the teats of tyranny.


Impossible to overstate Martial Law and the cruelties it has visited on the country. Not the least, 30 years after the lupusman’s fall, his son the Bong can still deploy stolen wealth to hoodwink the gullible.

The fat purses for hacks and sycophants, the expensive operations of spin on the body politic, the studied pooh-poohing of outrage, the rewards for opportunists, the sustainability of corruption, the social acceptance of thieves, the subversion of democratic debate by incendiaries deliberately lobbed onto the platforms, the wholesale revision of history (the liberties taken with facts), the pillage of all sense of decency — this is still the aftermath of Martial Law; its continuing radioactivity.

So, too, is it MartialLawAfterlife, for the Bong to think we are all fools. It is a tenacious culture produced by Martial Law that will consign all Filipinos to the hell of Marcosian recuperation via the sheer power of money and a vast reservoir of callousness.

But the Bong is wrong to imagine he can have his way with us. He is wrong to think that 5-some years of paying for and cranking up sleek revisionist history targeting the youth will hand him an entire generation of zombies. He is wrong to think that my children, who are bright and passionate about the Philippines, are his to stand on en route to Malacanang. While true, the capital invested in his comms juggernaut has paid off in enough kids mouthing fairy tales about some weird 1972 – 1986 Camelot, I am certain that the computations of the Bong’s magicians are off. And my certitude is not based on wishful thinking.

The Bong is wrong, too, to think that Martial Law torture victims, grassroots orgs with 4 or 5 decade long histories, advocates of democratic process, and just-citizens, like myself, who have cultivated a refined sense of indignation, wield no political clout; can be taken out of the election math. The Bong’s campaign appears to be built entirely of cynical calculation, which cannot possibly account for the power of the right side of history.

It is also miscalculation to equate the failures of the Philippine presidents since 1986 to the horrors of Martial Law. This is disingenuousness on a monster scale: to foist on the citizenry a bizarre moral vacuum, where all error and success have similar therefore non-value. And he spices up this hogwash with the similarly spurious assertion that things have remained the same; have gotten worse; have made Martial Law, in hindsight, a bit of heaven on earth

The Bong miscalculates our capacity, as a people, to endure the indignity of spin. He thinks he can slather us in shit ideas like political and economic degeneration in the past 30 years; and slide on our carcasses onto Marcosian resurrection, He misjudges our minds, sharpened by 30 years of struggling to correct the damage wrought by Martial Law on our political, economic and cultural systems; and our hearts, made robust by 30 years of exercising people-powered democracy.

People power, I agree, has been diminished by its branding as a middle class conceit. People power, however, is a cultural and political truth bigger than the middle class abilities to articulate and grasp; and bigger than any presidency, Aquino’s included, can “harness.” The majority of Filipinos, no matter how poor, have a real taste and capacity for democratic action, and this proclivity has so developed in the last decades that authoritarianism is not an option. Merely catching a whiff of Martial Law odium around the dictator’s namesake is enough to trigger a recoil.

Neither is it viable, his snake-oll salesmanship of prosperity under the shadow of centralized governance. The vision will not move Filipinos, at this point in time, who have tasted the sweet success of their self-empowerment. Indeed the culture of self-empowerment that was born under the fatal threats imposed by Martial Law is now in the cusp of full maturity.

The Bong spits on our democratic achievements to try to restore shine to his name and slick-slide his clamber to the top. He has become the smooth operator he was honed to be within the incubator that was Martial Law. He is as much a Frankensteinian creature of that unlamented regime, as are all recent exercises of impunity, whomever were the perpetrators. They are all Marcosian children. But the Bong, in particular, in his inability to recognize the Philippines of today — a nation now built on the mantra of self-empowerment, a nation so comfortable with its decentralizing systems that it will be hard put to revert to autocracy — he exhibits his own lack of credentials for the job he seeks.

The Bong is wrong to think the Filipinos haven’t, in fact, moved on.


  1. Batang-Genyo, Alah Eh

    Yes,Marian, BBM might have under estimated the Filipino electorate to forget the excess of Martial law regime and to appreciate the absence of democratic space for social,economic and political change. The growing awareness for anti-Marcos campaign calling for rejection and blocking of the return of a Marcos to Malacanang show that despite the suggestion of media and political power brokers to move on, such call has been met with reservation because of the need not only for a remorseful repentance but a sincere apology and political retribution as well as economic restoration of what has been grossly stolen from the national patrimony.