It’s going to be any day now, insists the Legion: ChaCha advocates bring case to Comelec. So the two top stories will be the plenary voting on impeachment, and the announced filing-to-be.
But that’s for later this week. As for today…
Twenty three years, which is how long ago Ninoy Aquino was killed, is a lifetime for most Filipinos. I was 13, and my father and I had just arrived in America where I was supposed to go to school, when Aquino was killed. I had to ask, “who is Ninoy Aquino?”
The late Peter Jennings that day mistakenly referred to Aquino as “Niño Aquino.” That was funny. The situation itself, of course, was not. My father was very sick with a stomach bug he’d picked up on the flight; yet he was constantly on the phone to family and friends in Manila. At times we knew more overseas than people at home were being told or could find out. There were only really two papers, then: the Bulletin Today was as it is now, as the Manila Bulletin;: generally, vanilla. The other paper, the Times Journal was to those times as the Manila Standard-Today is in our time. There were no other real papers, basically no independent radio, and certainly no alternative sources for news and views like the Internet. Eggy Apostol recounts what it was like to wait for him, and hear he’d died. Billy Esposo pens a memoir of that day, too.
My impression of those confusing hours and days was plain and simply, the shock that my elders felt; and after the feeling of shock, the inner turmoil Ninoy’s death provoked: had he been rash? Was Marcos a lunatic, or in a coma? Would anyone care? What did his undelivered arrival statement mean?
People did care. People started smuggling around his undelivered statement; and if you watch the documentaries and read recollections of the time, as breathtaking as the manner in which Ninoy was murdered, was the decision of individual people to do something that should have come easily under normal circumstances: attend a wake, and march in a funeral procession. Newsstand recounts what it was like.
I remember the debates in the late 70s and early 80s: “Let’s unite,” we should “move on,” there “is no qualified successor,” the opposition “is hopelessly divided,” better “the SOB we know than an SOB who might be worse,” not to mention “things are getting better,” at least “there is firm leadership and discipline,” and “if the people really don’t like it why aren’t they showing they care,” as well as “if you’re not a Communist you have nothing to fear.”
(photo from Wikipedia)
The killing of Ninoy and the economy’s collapse set those arguments aside. I hear them now -have been hearing them for a year- which makes me wonder if people rally want to wait for the economy to collapse or a new martyr to be produced, as if we haven’t learned to nip dictatorship in the bud rather than wait for it to flower, first.
But then I suffer, perhaps, from romantic notions.
On Ninoy’s death anniversary, the President decides to appoint a commission.
To mark Ninoy’s death anniversary (ExectoRants says he’s a saint), here are some readings. Those by Teodoro M. Locsin, Sr. profoundly influenced me, and I think they help explain why Ninoy was a hero.
(image from Berby’s World)
In 1971, the Philippines Free Press made Ninoy Aquino its Man of the Year. Fifteen years later, Teddy Locsin, Jr. reflected on his interview with Ninoy for that article.
Teodoro M. Locsin, Sr. was close to Ninoy -considering him a friend. In The Conscience of the Filipino: The Sacrifice, Locsin pondered Ninoy’s being jailed, his continuing resistance to Marcos, and his decision to come home. He observed,
Soon after the imposition of martial law, a high American official reportedly described the Filipino people as composed of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch. Otherwise, they should have risen as one against the destroyer of their liberties, the American must have reasoned. Yet, six million Jews went like sheep to the slaughter, stopping only to bicker over an extra crumb of bread that might keep one alive an extra day. The Nicaraguans swallowed 40 years of indignity and official thievery from the Somozas before putting an end to their rule. And the Poles, to date, have done nothing but picket. The Hungarians, after a brief spasms of prideful revolt, have traded the hope of liberty for that extra roll of toilet paper in the Soviet showcase of a consumer society.
The Filipino people rose in revolt against Spanish rule again and again through 350 years until the Revolution had cornered the last Spaniards in Manila. Then they fought the Americans, who had suddenly snatched the freedom that was almost in their grasp. Ten percent of the Filipino people died in that war. When the Japanese drove out the Americans, the Filipinos fought the Japanese.
Then came martial law, if not with American fore-knowledge and approval, definitely with American support after the event. First, submission. (Cowardice?) Resignation. (Not the Communists, for sure.) Almost 11 years after that, August 21, 1983, and Ninoy’s body bleeding on the tarmac.
The Filipino people are themselves again. And it took less than 11 years for a nation of “cowards” to be the men and women they are now.
In an editorial, titled If, Locsin asked what might have been, had Ninoy come home -and lived, offering up this meditation on power:
So, Marcos was brilliant – at the start. He did not have a gun, then: martial law enforced by the Armed Forces of the Philippines with his Number 1 hood, Ver, as chief-of-staff. Then, martial law! Brilliant he was, okay, or just cunning, unprincipled, a thinking son of bitch? All right, brilliant Marcos was. But the intellect deteriorates not meeting real challenge. The gun makes all challenge ineffectual. The mind becomes dull. Absolute power does not only corrupt absolutely, it stupefies. There is no need for intelligence when the guns serves. The blade of the mind rusts. Absolute power brings absolute stupidity. Such is the lesson of all dictatorships.
And in another essay, Is he? Locsin offered a reflection on Ninoy’s statement that “The Filipino is worth dying for.” Wrote Locsin,
There was, of course, no lack of apologia for venality and cowardice… But nobody cared.
Except a few. The unhappy few who found their cries against the death of liberty met with indifference if not scorn. Scorn for not being practical, for continuing to dream of freedom. Or boredom — for being so right but ineffectual. Even social hostility, for reminding the submissive or collaborator of virtue. What it means to be human, not a dog, glad for every scrap that fell from the table of the dictator and his family and partners in robbery and murder. Ninoy and Cory would afterward speak of how those they thought their friends pretended they did not know them!
There was no demonstrations of any consequence for years and years. While the Opposition dwindled into insignificance — except the Communist rebels in the hills — business boomed. With borrowed money much of which the dictatorship stole. National economic growth rose with national foreign debt. The future of the Filipino people was morgaged more and more to foreign banks greedy for interest on their Arab deposits. The children will have to pay, but the parents did not care. The dictatorship was riding high on the back of the Filipino people and they did not feel the weight.
Today, of course, there are still those who deny Ninoy was a hero. I suspect they do not believe anyone is capable of heroism, period. Skepticism, when it plunges a person into an inescapable refusal to recognize anything they have not defined in a manner that reinforces their conviction that only they possess virtue, is a horrifying thing, because it denies everything (except, perhaps, the self-assurance of self-satisfaction) and achieves nothing.
Other readings: on Ninoy, from the Inquirer editorial on officials lacking his sense and principles; the Black & White Movement is one year old;
Bunker Chronicles is irked by official commemorations that ring hollow; Sassy Melbournite asks for something many will overlook: a moment of silence.
Luis R. Sioson on the vanishing landscape of memory.
In the punditocracy, Newsstand broadly hinted at what was coming, which was Justice Isagani Cruz’s response to my reply. And so, today, my reply to his response: Oblivious in Cloud Cuckoo-land.
A reader (Filipino Catholic) who commented previously has additional comments (click on thumbnail image):
(Hat-tip to Clever WoT for the Holmes Quote which mentions Holmes’s support of eugenics and in turn, to my reading the decision in Buck v. Bell (here’s an abstract; and here’s the decision penned by Holmes); there’s also this letter to the editor on Voltaire, and further explanations of the letter’s point can be found among the reader’s comments, here.)
Patricia Evangelista had many skeptics in the past, concerning her being an opinion page columnist, but with her last column, In contempt, and her column yesterday, Rage against the dying of the light, I don’t think anyone can deny she has come of age.
As Randy David puts it, emergency rule has become the President’s paradigm of governance. Bong Austero issues a reminder: the opposition must purge itself.
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ delves into the power struggle between the Senate and the Palace. Sylvia Mayuga’s lyrical look at the Santo Niño. Jojo Robles observes 30 years in the profession. Rita Linda V. Jimeno writes on libel, the Palace’s current flavor of the month.
Overseas: Karma gradually catching up with Thaksin. A gathering of Thai Magsaysay Award recipients says Thais told they must get more involved in politics.
In the blogosphere, some thoughts on opinion writing by Catherine Seipp in Politics Central. Thoughts on contending ideas in down to the wire & squirming.
Jim Paredes in his blog, objectis to an Inquirer story that claimed Finally, Apo’s Jim Paredes gives up on RP. He says it’s a misleading story to say the least. His daughter is furious.
A sampling of blogs on Justice Cruz over the past week or so: [email protected] is inclined to be satisfied with the Justice’s assertion of his freedom of expression; The Bystander says the Justice was justifiably exercising his rights, and Livewire’s Law is also of the opinion that criticism has been excessive and unhealthy. Iloilo City Boy believes there’s a clash of generations. There’s leaflens‘ blog, which argues the disagreement is larger than two contending columnists. saludagabre believes what has been missed out is a larger advocacy of a “struggle for economic redistribution”. Vissi d’arte also says I missed out on something and takes up the slack. prickster is surprised the Justice hasn’t been accused of sophistry.
jamesjimenez writes crimson. Bryanboy raises an eyebrow but plans a fab outfit for the Justice’s permanent retirement. Spunk thinks John Silva’s reaction was good. Random Thoughts reproduces an open letter. Here is another response and here’s another readers sent in.
See also letters from kamijo, and ragnarokette and Hippie Bourgeois, and a sarcastic response from I’m a devil in haste (Pulsar also pens an open letter, someone else explains why they won’t respond beyond their blog). mcvie: Isa Granny makes a brief statement. Bridget Jones is A Man… and I am Her recounts his family’s reactions. Pinay New Yorker, who has a gay brother, explains what bigotry is. Awful Things also reacts, as does jcv000. sunfish is particularly pithy.
true north strong and free and me examines the example of Canada as a case in which diversity works. pixie debunks misconceptions.
Seriously? at in transit doesn’t condone homosexuality but doesn’t condone Justice Cruz, either.
On the other hand, Cutting Against the Grain commends Justice Cruz for establishing a beachhead in the War for Christian Civilization.
At this point, with his permission, I’d like to reproduce what Mario Taguiwalo wrote to members of an e-group that he belongs to:
You may have read or heard about Justice Cruz’ unfortunate column on PDI (“Don we now our gay apparel”) and the reactions of many to it, including John Silva, Jonathan Best and Manolo Quezon. Justice Cruz has a rejoinder to Manolo’s own column today (“Neither here nor there”), which I think only deepens the hole he dug for himself.
I re-read Justice Cruz’ original column and tried to understand what made it so infuriating for some people. What I discovered may be useful to many of us who are called upon to express an opinion about something in the public arena. Here are some occasional notes that might be entitled “Anatomy of Bigotry”.
Justice Cruz starts his column in Paragraph 1 with an apparently neutral observation: “Homosexuals before were mocked and derided, but now they are regarded with new-found respect and, in many cases, even regarded as celebrities.” He then offers a caveat in Paragraph that his “observations against homosexuals in general” do not apply to those who have not violated his preferred standards of behavior. In Paragraph 3, he cites a general global “change in the popular attitude towards homosexuals”, which have led to a belief that they are “a separate third sex with equal rights as male and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is neither here nor there”. He then recalls the good old days of his elementary schooling in Paragraph 4, when homosexuals were rare, submissive and mildly amusing.
His alarm begins in Paragraph 5 when “homos dirtied the beautiful tradition of the Santa Cruz de Mayo” by their participation, which he referred to as a “blasphemy”. His alarms escalate in Paragraph 6, when he sees homosexuals everywhere in “alarming and audacious number”. His alarm boils over in Paragraph 7 when he points to schools being “fertile ground for the gay invasion”, which would not have happened if “certifiably masculine” students like his own five “macho sons” mauled them like they used to do in the 70’s.
Finally, he climaxes in Paragraph 8 in these rhetorical questions: “Is our population getting to be predominatly pansy? Must we allow homosexuality to march unobstructed until we are converted into a nation of sexless persons without the virility of males and the grace of females but only an insipid mix of these diluted virtues? Let us be warned against the gay population, which is per se a compromise between the strong and the weak and therefore only somewhat and not the absolute of either of the two qualities.”
In his 8 short paragraphs, Justice Cruz took the trouble to use all emotionally laden words he could conjure about homosexuals: gay, pansy, siyoke, queer, binabae, fairies, lady-like directors, bading, sexless persons, effeminate bearded hairdressers. He offers the behavior of couturiers as deserving his admiration and respect; and points to vulgar members of the gay community as having degraded and scandalized that community. In his world, homosexuals “dirtied” and “cheapen” whatever they touch. In his latest column he defends his piece as his own opinion and that “it depends on what and whom you hate” that matters. He then says he hates grafters, murderers, rapists and other criminals, implying therefore that his hate for homosexuals is on the same basis. Contrary to his caveat in Paragraph 2, it is not some behavior of some homosexuals that he attacked, it was in fact all homosexuals and whatever claims homosexuals may have as human beings that he wishes to deny.
Let us reflect on what Justice Cruz [would] have us do with homosexuals.
For those of the homosexual persuasion, Justice Cruz wants you to: (a) stay in the closet; (b) if you have to be outed, behave “decorously” and (c) above all, do not blaspheme religious festivals with your visible participation. For the rest of us who wants to stem the rising tide of homosexuality, Justice Cruz wants us to: (a) avoid being amused by their antics as this only encourages them; (b) if necessary, maul them back to the closet or towards more decorous behavior.
Reading Justice Cruz, one can replace “homosexuals” with many other groups who have been discriminated against such as “women”( it is not women I hate, but loud aggressive women), “Negroes” (I do not hate Niggers, it’s uppity Niggers I want dead), “Jews” (Jews are not bad, just those bloodsucking ones), “Muslims” (Muslims are fine but Muslim zealots should be exterminated), young people with long hair in the 60’s, the developmentally disabled, etc.
One has to ask Justice Cruz and people like him who think that there are groups deserving condemnation for simply being who they are and for acting in accordance with what they believe is right even when it is different from our own beliefs: what damage have they done to our society? what harm are they inflicting on our lives?
A bigot is a person obstinately devoted to his own opinions and prejudices who regards or treats members of a group with hatred and intolerance. Justice Cruz’ column is an example of bigotry.
Have a good weekend.
Jessica Zafra makes a political prediction: Danton Remoto is going to Congress.
Bunker Chronicles makes some observations about the excuses tend to make to justify their hold on power.
Manila News on how the days of the generals has returned. As in the period leading up to 1986, this serves the purposes of the upholders of the status quo. For the military to be a decisive factor in the political impasse would require one of two things: their repudiating the ongoing offensives in the provinces, or an absolute enforcement of similar methods nationwide.
Iloilo City Boy: rare red shrimps among casualties of Guimaras oil spill. Read also, of the personal tragedy his uncle’s facing because of the disaster.
New Economist on why the UK is so expensive.
Leon Kilat with a nifty entry on backing up cellphone information.
As above me, so below me on an email from the Dash Media Project.A viewing:, just for fun: How computerized elections might work.
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