Source: Humans of Pinas

“In 1972, I was then only 10 years old and a Grade 6 graduating student at La Salle ng Lipa. The only thing I remember—and liked—during that fateful week of September was the cancellation of classes for a week or so.

I remember seeing my father preparing a large garapon where he camouflaged (what I learned later) a gun and which he buried somewhere in a secret spot. Our black and white Zenith television went static and I grieved the sudden disappearance of my favorite cartoon program, Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Next time the channels came on air, there was nothing except replays of Marcos or Imelda in some government function, delivering a speech or cutting ribbons.

Little did I realize that those changes marked the beginnings of the government taking control of media, encroaching on the private lives of its citizens and creating an almost idolatrous personality cult around Malakas and Maganda who are the designated saviors of the Marcoses’ New Society.

The succeeding years of my life as a high school and college student were mostly unremarkable. I had no strong feelings one way or another about the ruling regime since I had no way of comparing that experience with any other.

I can still remember intoning the Marcos propaganda songs, reading nothing but apologias about government policies and reciting government slogans. Little did I realize that those years actually count as the “lost years” of my formative life.

What was promoted to citizens as a call for personal sacrifice to build a ‘new society’ turned out to be an ingenious way of indoctrinating us to support with blind obedience the Pied Piper in Malacañan.

The necessary discipline required of every citizen as our contribution towards national progress turned out to be the Marcosian way of luring us to subservience, if not blind obedience.

Unlike the other heroic survivors of Martial Law, I was among the legion of the ‘unremarkables’. We were not exactly jailed, tortured or even threatened.

But we were the youth then who lost a decade-and-a-half of opportunity to grow in a truly free society, to think critically and challenge group think, to speak truth to power, and to engage in transformational leadership.

Martial law frowned on all those as it did on sporting long hair, night outs, or anything considered unconventional and which disturbed social harmony. Ordinary citizens and the majority of the populace were expected to follow social convention, support government programs and most importantly keep criticism to oneself.

It was only in 1986 that I awoke from my stupor and realized what I lost. While I was able to roam the streets freely, I have lost my capacity to think creatively and critically and have become skeptical of anything that did not follow the official government storyline.

My sense of pride and dignity as a Filipino was based on an illusory myth written by government publicists. As a young teacher in a provincial high school, I was shaken with the news of Ninoy’s murder at the tarmac.

The anguish of the nation broke the four walls of the very classroom that insulated me from the world. It was only then that I realized that learning becomes truly engaging when one has learned to embrace the human struggle. I vowed since then never to allow myself and my country to be ruled by another tyrant.”