Silencing the Past
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 Friday, May 16th, 2022
Dear Chris,

The ascendancy and election of Bong Bong Marcos as Filipino President exposes a deep suppressed memory of nearly four decades past, as the Philippines and I are tragically bonded. In August 1983 our history teacher, Mr. Mike Adams, assigned each student a country report to compile - mine was Philippines. Research consisted of Encyclopedia Brittanica, Newsweek, and few assorted books from our school library.

I diligently set to work parroting basic facts on population, geography, history, from Spanish to American colonisation and onto the present US backed dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. I could relate as Pakistan had its own US-sponsored military strongman. Then, in an instant, this mundane report burst to life with the brazen assassination of Marcos's foe - Benigno Aquino (Ninoy); my report became the news and I became a perceived expert on a country that I only encountered a few weeks ago.
Dutifully, I collated all the gory details of the killing, from the white, blood splattered shirt to the body being displayed in an open coffin for all to view. My father, home from his building sites, glanced at my work, nodded, mumbling “difficult times.” I took that as approval. Four weeks later, my father boarded a Gulf Air flight to Abu Dhabi that crashed with rumours that either it was a PLO bomb or the UAE accidentally shot down its own airliner. This time there was no stained shirt or body, only a near intact passport with the edges slightly singed.

Over the last forty years the trajectory of the Philippines and myself has been shaped by global money. Ninoy and my father were products of nationalism that was struggling with American Cold War dichotomies - of democratic talk but dictatorship walk. Ninoy’s political descendants ruled the Philippines under the power of global money; these democratic politicians failed to deliver or improve the standard of living of their citizens, as global money was overwhelming and much too enticing. This outcome was replicated in most places, even in America itself.

The old left/right of the Cold War, so deeply embedded in those of us of a certain age, has, in the era of global money been stripped of this storyline. It is no longer left vs. right (democrat vs. republican) but rather Corporatist vs. Nostalgic Revanchist.

The left has weirdly become Corporate while the right yearns for a return to ‘the glory days’. Neither Ninoy nor my father would understand either side. They were passionate and proud about their respective countries, about democratic rule of law, and an equal place at the global table; they looked to future, not to relive some fantasy of a glorious past.

But with the election of Bong Bong Marcos, son of Ferdinand Marcos, the era of dictatorship is being rehabilitated by the incompetence of Corporatists and their worship of global money. This trend is not just in the Philippines, but is seen globally, even here in Pakistan, where local (American induced) corporatists have implemented a silent coup. Sadly the stained shirt of Ninoy is ever present reminder that sudden events could once again change all of our paths.

“Difficult times” indeed.  

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