by Belinda A. Aquino, Ph.D.
The recent Bongbong Marcos victory in the Philippine presidential election on May 9 is bound to be a major example of “historical revisionism” in the administration of the country for the next six years and probably beyond.But a more detailed explanation is needed for this probable state of affairs in the
Philippines for the near future especially on the concept of “revisionism.”
The simplest definition of the term as any dictionary will show is the changing towards a new status of widely accepted values in a given society towards the benefit of an incoming administration.
The new Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte administration is bound to enforce major revisions in the governmental set-up that they will inherit from the outgoing system come June 30.
Some of the major changes that the Marcos-Duterte administration will be making will include reinstating institutions that lasted for nearly 20 years under Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s dictatorship. Those same institutions also toppled when the 1986 People Power Revolution send Marcos, his family and cronies in exile in Hawaii where he later died in 1989.
This essay will focus on just one major example of the new revisionist system that the Marcos-Duterte team seeks to established.
After the Marcos regime’s downfall in 1986, the Corazon Aquino administration created new institutions to ensure that the dictatorship’s atrocities during its long and brutal reign will never be forgotten.
One of these changes was the establishment of the “Bantayog ng mga Bayani” (Monument of Heroes) dedicated to honor and preserve the bitter memory of hundreds of thousands of victims who were detained, imprisoned, and murdered during the Marcos regime. The monument was opened in 2007 to make sure that the fate of countless victims of the Marcos regime will never be forgotten in the future.
Current Status of The Monument
On June 26, the New York Times published an article by journalist Sui-Lee Wee titled “The Museum Was Built So No One Would Forget. Now It’s Falling Apart.”
The monument has been dedicated to honor the victims of the Marcos regime with sculptures featuring many of the major casualties such as Macli-ing Dulag, a Cordillera tribal leader who was assassinated by the Marcos military. There are also countless pictures of student leaders, activists, and avowed political opponents of the regime such as Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. Thousands of victims had never been identified and given justice for their anti-regime activities.
Anticipating that the incoming Marcos-Duterte administration will erase, if not altogether obliterate, the monument, regime survivors, including Fr. Edicio de la Torre are trying to save it by calling attention to the world, especially those of Filipino ancestry, to prevent the incoming administration’s plan to destroy it.
Monument staff leaders like May Rodriguez bewail the possible disappearance of the monument because it will change the future course of Philippine history by erasing all vestiges of its collective past honoring their heroic deeds and sacrifices for their country.
By way of concluding her statement, Rodriguez has issued this appeal to save the Monument of Heroes to exist forever in Philippine history.“Our goal is to make the Museum of Heroes more interactive with video clips so visitors can deconstruct the half-truths online,” she told the New York Times. “I want them to understand that the past two or three years, maybe even longer, has been a battle for half-truths and lies.”This echoes the ringing words of Maria Ressa, the only individual of Filipino ancestry to win the Nobel Peace Prize Award, who has said with fervor that this struggle with the incoming regime will be a continuous one between fact and fiction.
BELINDA A. AQUINO is Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii (UH) and a Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies at the School of Pacific and Asian Studies. She is also the Founding Director of the Center for Philippine Studies at UH. An accomplished journalist. She is also Contributing Editor of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle and a frequent contributor of commentaries and articles to various international and national publications.