They buried the dictator today. It was sudden. It was swift. It was definitely not a rushed affair. In the same day edit so laboriously prepared by his doting, despotic family, we see a precise, perfectly choreographed set of rites. This was planned, all of it.
They’d planned to lie.
The burial at Libingan ng Mga Bayani was supposed to be scheduled on November 25—after the 15-day provision of appeal had passed, and then some. By law, we were supposed to have those fifteen days to make our last, heroic appeal for human dignity. But even the law let us down.
Lately, it seems like that is all the law has been doing.
We’d planned to mobilise on November 25th. Ours would have been an organised, orderly assembly. Instead, a rushed, slapdash protest was all we got, scrambling to answer marching orders seven days too early. The other side, old men proudly comparing student shoes to their everyman tsinelas and worn caps, had free food and merchandise. We had torn signs, hostile police.
We did not become violent. Before our friends marched to Taguig, to UP, to White Plains we warned them, do not be violent. Do not let history repeat itself. Days before, our President warned that he would consider suspending the writ of habeas corpus if the state of lawlessness continued. Based on historical precedent, our government has always been inclined to see our protesting of their misguided decisions as unlawful. The man we buried today built his dictatorship on the backs of silenced student protests and planted bombs.
Violence would be all the excuse a demagogue needed. History repeats. History is the definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome.
History has its eyes. It watches. What will it see? Will it see a never-ending cycle? There are too many parallels between 2016 and those dark days of the 1970s. A charismatic man of the people—a lawyer—coming to power with a promise of peace and order. A major social threat—then, communists; now, drugs—that had to be stamped out. A controversial decision leading to student uprisings. A declaration of a state of lawlessness. A slippery slope growing more and more familiar.
Perhaps, perhaps, it was not a coincidence that our Commander in Chief allied himself with the dictator’s son. Perhaps that is also why he made that promise: “I will bury the father in the Cemetery of Heroes.”
Perhaps they believe that by laying him to rest in ground consecrated in the blood of better men would somehow declare him to history as a better man.
The dictator is no hero. Not even a military one. His stellar combat record has been proven time and again as an invention, his daring deeds of derring-do appropriated from other, braver soldiers. He might not have been dishonourably discharged, but history has proven him to be dishonourable. And yet there, in the final resting place of heroes, he lies. He lies.
They all do. They twist the dates to prevent dissenting voices. They simper in press releases, asking for “privacy.” Once you assume the Presidency, your life becomes public domain. Why bar the people from speaking if you had nothing to hide?
It is clear that the dictator—dead and buried though he may be—and his family still have things to hide. Only, it is not from us, but from themselves. We know the truth. It is not buried six feet under in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. It is not buried at all. The truth is a matter of public record, a fact to which we have erected monuments: 3,000 killed, 35,000 sexually and physically tortured, 70,000 imprisoned, billions plundered.
The truth is a matter of public record, recorded in a list of the dead and still missing.
History has its eyes. We have our voices. A man may be buried, but the story of our revolution is not over. Not until justice is done, and justice is not done, because no apologies have been made.
“Why do you stand?” they ask, mocking, “What’s done is done and cannot be undone.” They accuse us of living in the past, not understanding that we are fighting for the future. History repeats, and so it is up to us to write it into a pattern worth repeating.
Administrations rise and fall, but people remember revolutions.
Tonight, somewhere in the city, we are assembling. Tonight, we take back the history that was stolen from us. Tonight, we stand for the truth that cannot be buried.
Tonight, and all the nights to come.