The Rehabilitation of the Marcoses

The Rehabilitation of the Marcoses


painting by Papo de Asis from

By natural causes or not, in the next 50 years , all of us would have died, and it is not certain that our descendants or their descendants would remember the times we lived in. But for the textbooks, history lectures, libraries, court records, we had not documented enough, not concluded enough, rested too much, assured ourselves too much, that the textbooks, libraries, history lectures, court records, would be enough repository of the 20 years of families torn apart and tortured, 10,000 persons violated, billions of dollars of Marcos plundered unrecovered wealth.

Those textbooks, libraries, history lectures, court records, are being changed, year by year, the heirs waited then negotiated, then waited and negotiated, while we rested. We had gone on to live, not knowing that when we die in the next 50 years or so, everything we thought we had lived for, had not happened, according to the new history textbooks, history lectures, and reconstituted court records. In the Internet in Wikipedia, the future reference of your children and grandchildren, the dictator was never a tyrant but a visionary, no one has edited the long entry, because we had rested too much.

But what does it matter when our descendants and millions of our countrymen, and their descendants coexist in peace, what does it matter, except that the heirs’ heirs would be in power someday, having stashed a war chest big enough to buy a small country; the sins of the father should not be visited upon the children and grandchildren anyway; if they paid off all of us, and they have the largesse for it, would that be enough, what is the price of one’s memory, what does it matter, that there were students, workers, women, peasants, thousands, whose skulls and bones were crushed when they fought the dictator; a fifth generation would ask your grandchildren: Did it really happen? How do you know?

Too High a Price”: Letter of Abraham “Ditto” Sarmiento Jr., U.P. Philippine Collegian editor-in-chief, from prison February 12, 1976, to his father then U.P. Board of Regents member :

I hope you have already been notified of the alleged violations of PD 90 that I have been charged with – I certainly am still in the dark about these. Anyway, from what I was able to glean from my conversations with Roly Abadilla, the military feels that for me to be released, I have to at least temper the editorial policy of my paper – which would be a blatant infringement on the freedom of expression they so hypocritically proclaim exists under martial law. Since I cannot in good conscience accept these terms, I am still under preventive detention.

It would be better for me, in terms of my future professional life (and from what Roly Abadilla implied, the fortunes of the law office) if I stayed in preventive detention. At least, I wouldn’t be publishing anything which would further embroil me with the present regime.

Maybe this is why I am so calm about all these. I know that I am committed to whatever policies I have laid down as well as the course of action I had enumerated in my last editorial. To back off now would be an abandonment of principles I believe in and be a tarnish on my integrity as an individual. I do not believe I could live with myself then, less than this loss of self-esteem would be a loss of face both in Diliman and beyond. These would be too high a price to pay for a release which is only temporary.”

– Printed in “Pintig” published by Resource Center for Philippine Concerns 1979:

(Ditto Sarmiento refused to make a deal with the Marcos dictatorship in exchange for his release. He became sick in prison and when he was released, died shortly thereafter.)

(letters and poems from prison, to be continued)

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