A thoughtcrime at play

With the Department of Education’s proposal to modify the term “Diktaturyang Marcos”, threats of disinformation loom large among younger students.

“Newspeak”, “thoughtcrime”, and “doublethink”—a very odd sounding vernacular that has its roots tangled in Orwellian literature. As 16-year-old me read through the dystopian society of Air Strip One, I couldn’t help but to liken such a horrific depiction of human society to the reality of the Philippines.

You see, context shapes everything: from how we react to different ideas to how we understand the world. It defines how we listen, speak, and act with conviction. However, this very strength of context is its downfall. It is often vulnerable to manipulation, leading to rewritten narratives that could change our perceptions of reality. Akin to the destructive nature of artillery, poorly constructed and deliberately false context could wreak havoc on public ideas—especially if it starts out as slow and simple. The average Juan and Juana may or may not be a primary target for deliberate deception, but there still remains a sector that remains extremely vulnerable to such a strategy—education.

To say that the Philippine education system is in dire straits would be an extreme understatement; rising illiteracy rates coupled with rampant cases of disinformation campaigns have resulted in failing efforts to combat misleading statements of yesteryear.

This can be a very concerning problem, especially when the primary institution responsible for education is leading the idea to reframe one of our country’s darkest times in the minds of our children. The Department of Education (DepEd)’s proposed memorandum to change the term “Diktaturyang Marcos” (Marcos Dictatorship) is an academic atrocity that should never be condoned. Ever.

Historical distortionism has always been synonymous with the Marcos era. From stories of glory through numerous infrastructure programs to anecdotes of economic prosperity, the “golden era” narrative has propelled unverified lies that the public has continued to pounce and feast upon. But DepEd’s Bureau of Curriculum Development Director recently revealed that the reasoning for DepEd’s push for revising such a term in the history curriculum was for mere “organization”.

How does one manage to stomach reducing one of Philippine history’s most grotesque displays of inhumanity to a mere “organization of thoughts”? The absurdity behind such a preposterous proposal as this—this idea of taking away a core lens (one that is already being misconstrued as we speak) of our collective truth—brings nothing but a harrow chill to my very core. Not only does it serve as a disservice to the countless academics who have collated decades’ worth of statements and testimonies, but it also harbors a slippery slope upon which entire generations in the future are susceptible to such an indoctrination with lies.

Considering that this pervasive status quo remains the reality for most Filipino households, it already is a grave risk to the formation of a child’s sense of truth and falsehood; entire curricula that were set to highlight the horrors of the Marcos regime will be all for naught should this dark period be reduced to a mere “dictatorship”.

Who will heed the calls for justice of the countless “desaparecidos” who disappeared throughout the conjugal dictatorship’s reign; and of their distraught families whose lives have been broken due to the atrocities committed? Who will stand up and remain to enlighten those who will live on that the wicked savagery that the Filipino people have endured shall never be okay and thus should never be normalized? How do we as a nation remember those who have fallen and silence their cries who perpetually scream out “why us?”

No patriot should ever stand by this cruel act of disinformation—no one ever should.

As long as arms still rally together to aid the call of the voices lost to the abyss of time, the flame of those tragic souls who were lost under the hands of the Marcoses shall never go extinguished. As long as fierce stances and battle cries of younger generations scream out for Lady Justice to enact her verdict upon those who live in lavish luxury while millions of Filipinos cry out in hunger, morality and integrity shall stand. As long as there are Filipinos who will sacrifice their comforts in the hopes that the truth be revealed to those who seek to unravel it, transparency shall remain inevitable and those who yearn for catharsis shall be rewarded with content.

As long as there are people who stand up and never forget, never again shall the Filipino people remain oppressed and downtrodden.

Aaron Gomez

By Aaron Gomez

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