To start with, I can say that I was also a victim of Martial Law during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, despite being born in the late 60s. It was actually my father who spent most of his time joining rallies against it. He was a simple laborer of a paper mills in Quezon City, but he went missing in the mid 70s. We never found him since then.
After all these decades, I was not vocal about my past, especially on what happened to my father. Instead, I focused on making a decent living and never engaged in any political rally, although many groups have been trying to convince me to join them. I decided to be silent, until I read some posts on social media of people who claimed being Martial Law victims.
Being the eldest in the family of 5, I was the one helping my mother trying to make ends meet. Both of my parents were raised in Manila, and have only reached high school. My father has been transferring from one job to another, and my mother was just a simple housewife. Nevertheless, she never ran out of ideas on how to help make a living.
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Those days, we live in a not-so friendly neighborhood in Paco, Manila, and my father usually comes home only during weekends. When I was in elementary, there was this regular “visit” of Metrocom (now Philippine National Police) in our place. They enter houses to search for some ‘illegal’ materials, and they frisk people especially those with tattoos.
To help my mother, I sell newspapers in early morning and ‘balut’ at night. But because of the curfew, we need to secure some permits to stay at late night, and sometimes our requests are being declined. Generally speaking, we did not depend on my father’s very low salary, but my mother never questioned him. She never complained about his ideology.
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One night, we saw our mother crying as some of my father’s companions went to our house, and told us my father has been missing for two days. According to them, the authorities picked them up at night after attending a political rally. She went to the police station in QC to cry for justice, and spent many days and nights looking for my father.
But eventually, she realized that there were more important things to do. Despite her frustrations, she chose to do everything so we can live peacefully and have food on the table. While growing up, we seldom talked about losing my father. My mother told us that it is better to focus on how to improve our lives rather than to grieve over my lost father.
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But despite of what happened, my mother discourage us from joining any rally against Marcos for the fear that we may suffer the same fate that my father had. Instead, we joined hands as a family and I was able to finish a course, even without a father.I was a college sophomore when the 1986 EDSA Revolution took place, and we did not join the rally.
Last Tuesday, November 8, I along with my other siblings and their families visited our mother because it was her 65th birthday. Coincidentally, it was the same day when the Supreme Court (SC) allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). We are watching the live news about it, and we saw our mother being teary-eyed.
We hugged her tightly not only because we are happy that she’s still healthy despite being half-blind, but because we felt that the SC ruling has an effect on her. Afterwards, I can’t help but ask her, ”Mom, what do you think about the Marcos burial?” She looked at us, took a deep breath, and smiled before she uttered the words I never expected from her.
“You see, we lost your father not because Marcos had him killed, but because he believed that Marcos was a bad president. Your father had a choice, and he did not choose us. Now that the SC decided the Marcos burial based on what the law says, do you want me to oppose the law just like your father’s killers did?” My mother told us in Tagalog.
“But what about the justice for my father? Do you believe that Marcos is a hero after all?” I asked her politely. My mother smiled once again, and said, “Marcos did not kill your father, it’s the system that killed him. Have I told you that your Aunt Lucia helped us a lot when you were young because she was among those who benefited from Masagana 99?”
Right afterwards, there were tons of questions running into my head. “What could have happened if I joined the rallies instead of going to school or getting into odd jobs? Will those protest organizers give us the things we needed?” I can’t say if the Marcos burial is right or wrong. But one thing is for sure, we have been living peacefully, and I believe that my mother is my real hero.
The above post was sent to us here at Taho News by a certain Raul M, a public school teacher in Quezon City. He said he does want to post this on Facebook, as he wants his wall not be bombarded with negative comments from anti-Marcos netizens.