I was in a resort in Bataan last May 2016 when I first truly learned about Martial Law. I had just finished lounging around the deserted resort with my family when I had showered, snuck into the fluffy comforter, and turned on the TV that the room came along with. It was only then that I remembered—“Oh yeah, elections nga pala…”
At that time, I was 17 years old, a year shy from being able to exercise my most important right—to be able to choose my representative and leader as a Filipino.
As any person from this generation would have done, I turned to Twitter for news—despite the fact that a news program was broadcasting live on TV at that very moment. People were lamenting the outcome of the elections at that time. I was saddened to read that Miriam Defensor was in last place for the Presidency but quite glad that Leni Robredo was in the lead for Vice Presidency. The results of the polls all held one name at the top—Rodrigo Duterte. At that point, all I knew of him that he was a strict disciplinarian when he was mayor of Davao. I was happy—if he were leading, then we Filipinos could might as well be on our way to discipline, righteousness, and justice.
But then I encountered a tweet bashing him and his ways, also dragging a candidate for Vice Presidency, Bongbong Marcos, through the mud. The tweet that I saw, along with many others I uncovered after that, all spoke of the same thing—do not elect Duterte or Marcos or else the Philippines will once again be plunged into Martial Law.
I didn’t understand why that was bad.
Wasn’t Martial Law the golden age of the Filipinos? Weren’t the US Dollar and Philippine Peso equal back then? Ferdinand Marcos, despite his reign of 20 years, was a good leader, right? People during the Martial Law era were more disciplined, isn’t that true? Didn’t we reach the peak of culture and art with Imelda?
At this point, I had become too confused with the incongruence of the tweets and what I had learned in my fifth grade and first year history books. Again, as any person from this generation would have done, I turned to the internet, hastily typed up “Martial Law Philippines Marcos”, and disbelievingly scoured through what must have seemed like 50 or more articles about the horrors of what I had called in my mind just 30 minutes ago the “Golden age of the Filipinos.”
Reading those articles and tweets and watching those documentaries shook my undoubted belief in recent Philippine history. I remember thinking that I did not deserve the high marks I got in Araling Panlipunan in first year if I didn’t know this side of Martial Law. I also remember looking at my old textbook, unable to believe that all that was mentioned of Ferdinand Marcos was that his dictatorship ended with a peaceful revolution. It is only recently that I have come to see myself an actualized victim of two simple words – historical revisionism.
Historical revisionism is the deliberate alteration of facts to re-tell historical evidence in a way that will benefit the writer. It is done purposely to advance some sort of dubious agenda. Historical revisionism actually takes a lot of skill to pull off. The manipulation of facts, data, and evidence must be done in such a way so as to be convincing to the layman.
Imagine my surprise then when I saw a certain blog proposing the “fact” that the EDSA People Power Revolution was a product of fake news. Although I have only recently learned the truth about Martial Law, I am convinced that the events leading up to the historical revolution were not imagined and were concrete in moving people to action.
The People Power Revolution was in fact such a historic and iconic movement that it inspired many other countries to go the peaceful way to fight dictatorship, oppression, and injustice. In many ways, EDSA Revolution has shaped the Philippine society to what it is today – a democratic country, where free press operates, and where the people hold the power.
Convincing people that it is a mere byproduct of fake news – or worse, that it didn’t even happen – is an insult to the memories of everyone who suffered from the horrors of the Marcos dictatorship and those who dared to stand up and fight against it. Historic moments like these ground Filipinos to our most basic and essential value: bayanihan.
Bayanihan indeed. More than 80 percent of the blog’s followers agreed that the EDSA People Power Revolution was truly a product of fake news. This was the thing that surprised me the most. That people actually agreed with the blog post. Yes, those who follow the blog must have the same mindset (why else would they tune in to it?) but to deny the validity of something that has been taught to many young Filipinos since fifth grade is suspension of disbelief taken to the highest level.
Historical revisionism has never been scarier. So many people have been swayed by just a single poll. If that’s how easy it is to erase a revolution that the world has heard and read about, what’s stopping blogs from telling people that two plus two is five and that freedom is actually slavery? What’s stopping people from believing and agreeing blindly?
Perhaps the best thing to do, amid all the trolls, blogs, and whatnots proclaiming to be the peak of fact and thought is to take it upon ourselves to study and discern. It is with an objective and open mind that we should view all things that are being fed to us through the Internet. At the end of the day, what you do with the information given to you is what matters. How you handle the information is what will make or break you.
Historical revisionism is a silent plague. It infests many a man’s brains, making men bow to a dubious and questionable agenda, nodding and agreeing to everything, anything, and nothing.