Notes on amnesia





A typewritten letter, folded twice crosswise, stapled and bears a stamp from Boston at the back. The anonymous sender sent it to Birmingham. The name and house number were intentionally photo-edited for this entry. 



I found this letter between the pages of a book several years ago. It reads:


"DECEMBER 1985

MAHAL NA KABABAYAN,

SNAP ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN CALLED. IT WILL TAKE PLACE ON FEBRUARY 7, 1986. MANY VIEW THE ELECTIONS AS ANOTHER GIMMICK OF THE MARCOS ADMINISTRATION TO IMPRESS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND PROJECT THE IMAGE OF THE PHILIPPINES AS A TRULY DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY. THEY COULD BE RIGHT AND WILL CHOOSE TO BOYCOTT THE ELECTIONS AGAIN. BUT TO STAY AWAY OR TO BE INDIFFERENT TO THE SNAP ELECTIONS WOULD BE A CRIME.

IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES, IF YOU ARE AWARE OF THE EXISTING PROBLEMS IN THE COUNTRY AND FURTHER, IF YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT THE MARCOS ADMINISTRATION HAS ONLY SERVED A FEW AND IMPROVED ONLY THE LOT OF HIS FAMILY AND HIS FRIENDS, LEAVING THE FILIPINO PEOPLE IN A SADDER, POORER AND A MORE MISERABLE STATE THAN WHEN HE FIRST TOOK OVER IN 1965 AND SUBSEQUENTLY DECLARED MARTIAL LAW IN 1972, WHY LEAVE THE RULE OF THE COUNTRY TO MARCOS AND HIS CRONIES?

IF YOU CANNOT VOTE, YOU CAN WRITE TO YOUR FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND ACQUAINTANCES IN THE PHILIPPINES TO VOTE FOR THE OPPOSITION, WHOEVER THE STANDARD BEARER MAY BE. LET US GIVE OURSELVES ANOTHER CHANCE, UNDER ANOTHER LEADERSHIP. BUT VIGILANT, WE MUST BE.

THEN THE PHILIPPINES MAY EXPERIENCE SOME RELIEF FROM MARCOS AND HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND START ANEW.

YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HEARD. IBALIK ANG KAPANGYARIHAN SA TAO. ACT NOW.

NOTE: PLEASE REPRODUCE AND SEND TO FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND ACQUAINTANCES."



Twenty-five years and two months already passed by after Filipinos marched down EDSA to ask what the letter emphasized: to return the power to the people.

I only have a vague recollection of what transpired during February 1986. I was almost three years old then. The development of my awareness of the concept of people power largely involves making sense of what the older generation went through during martial law. The greater part is the need to keep in mind that my generation is part of a beginning, not just heir to an aftermath.

The first rally I joined was anti-BNPP (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant). My grade three classmates and I held flags with the words: "Tutol kami sa pagbubukas ng BNPP!" Some classmates were even arguing over the meaning of tutol. We were not sure if it meant to agree or to disagree.

The debt contracted by the Marcos administration to (partly) finance the power plant in my hometown was fully paid this month in 2007. Until now, no concrete plan has been made as to what should be done with the white elephant.

With the lack of information available to us, will my former classmates and I now be able to say we're tutol as regards the plan to operate the plant? Can we come up with a knowledgeable stand? Or are we almost as clueless as we were back in the early '90s?

Twenty-five years and two months. Beneath the credits grabbed by politicians and their families, it would be good to look at what my generation learned 25 years after what happened at EDSA. The answer could also be related to what the generation that came before us was doing and remembering a week after. A month. Or two months.

1 comment:


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