For years, the rallying call “Never Again, Never Forget” has summed up the Filipino people’s opposition to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and his family. The slogan, which was popularized after Marcos Sr.’s ouster in 1986, commands us to commit his violent regime to memory, and in so doing, reminds us to not allow it to happen for the second time. Yet after 51 years since Martial Law’s declaration, Filipinos find themselves in the same predicament all over again with his son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., at the helm of our country.
One need not to look further to see what was once history present again. Soaring inflation rate is weighing down the public. Cases of innocent civilians falling victim to law officers’ murderous ways are piling up one day after another. All of this while we witness public officials steal from government coffers in broad daylight.
But to admit that our present reality is history repeating itself is to forget how the Marcoses worked their way to return to power. With the help of their allies, the notorious family rehabilitated their disreputable image through peddling blatant lies. They easily weaponized social media platforms, which are used by millions of Filipinos, to fabricate and amplify false information.
First they denied the carnage Marcos Sr. left behind and thereafter discredited the sacrifices of Martial Law activists who, to this day, are yet to obtain justice. Now, with the government’s resources at hand, the Marcos family is working towards wiping the historic abuses and corruption during Martial Law off the Filipino’s collective memory. Recently, the Department of Education (DepEd) ordered the rename the study of Martial Law in basic education from Marcos Dictatorship to Dictatorship.
As much as DepED officials denied they are dissociating the Marcoses from the darkest period in Philippine history, it is not difficult to see how this subtle rebranding can manipulate established information about Martial Law and pervert truth-telling.
In a country already torn apart by misinformation, further blurring fact from fiction only breaks down our communities. With fragmented collectives, we cannot come together to stand up for ourselves. It is impossible to work towards justice.
Amid these hurried efforts to make us forget their family’s history of atrocity, the call “Never Again, Never Forget” compels us to look back not only to remember, but to move forward with utmost vigilance. As we commemorate the 51st anniversary of Martial Law, the Foundation for Media Alternatives calls every Filipino to never forget the Martial Law atrocities and to continue channeling the spirit of martyred activists and civilians who bravely fought for our basic rights.