How the Marcoses can vindicate themselves

The movie Maid in Malacañang by Darryl Yap shares an ‘untold story’ of the Marcoses before they fled to Hawaii during the first People Power Revolution in 1986—the last 72 hours of the family in Malacañang Palace to be exact.

Unfortunately, its narrative appears as a blatant attempt to distort history and restore the ‘Marcos legacy,’ intended for the audience to sympathize with the Marcoses.

As I have written elsewhere with colleague Bernardine de Belen, Maid in Malacañang follows the idea that perception is real while the truth is not.

We observed how the movie humanizes the Marcoses who have stolen from and abused the Filipino people by painting them as characters who do not reflect what they have done to the Philippines.

It is a film that acts as pro-Marcos propaganda which imitates Marcos Sr.’s tactic during his regime—drilling the idea of Bagong Lipunan, painting himself and Imelda as Malakas and Maganda, censoring all media that went against their character.

Katips, the Movie by Vince Tañada, was released at the same time Maid in Malacañang was.

This movie was originally an award-winning play in 2016 called “Katips: Ang Mga Bagong Katipunero” before being adapted to film in 2021 and released in 2022.

Katips is a musical about a group of student activists who endured martial law and the Marcos regime while trying to continue to fight for what they believed in.

Katips and Maid in Malacañang both offer two versions of the truths—Katips about the battle the Filipino people fought against oppression and Maid in Malacañang about how the Marcoses continue to use propaganda to control their family’s image.

But are there several truths? Or is there in fact only one truth?

Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was a dictator. He was corrupt. His family was driven out by the people and a rebel military, with the assistance of the United States of America.

There is one truth about what happened on February 25, 1986.

But as Bernardine and I also wrote: Behind clear-cut, black and white truths, morality remains gray which brings us to two significant deaths (one recent and one on its 13th anniversary) of people closely relevant to the Marcos regime—Fidel V. Ramos and Cory Aquino.

We pointed out how Cory Aquino went from a widower to a leader of EDSA I to the president who finally replaced the dictator. The toppling of Marcos Sr. is a good thing in the absolute. However, we also observed how Cory Aquino’s administration after is where things become gray.

It is true that Cory Aquino was a key figure that led to the ousting of a dictator who tortured thousands of Filipinos.

However, it is also true that there were numerous human rights violations under Cory Aquino, some of the most prominent ones being the Mendiola Massacre leading to the death of 13 farmers, and the 540 desaparecidos cases, the highest number after Marcos.

These two truths about Cory coexist and so morality appears gray.

And that’s simply how it goes, what matters is that we have truths to support whatever perception we make of any person, especially leaders of our country.

If anything, this only proves that it was never the Marcoses against the Aquinos. It was and is the Marcoses against the Filipino people.

Bernardine and I also observed that Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) passed away just last July 31.

FVR is also a morally gray martial law figure. During Marcos’ regime, he was the head of the Philippine Constabulary which was notorious for arresting, torturing and murdering Filipinos, especially those from the opposition.

However, despite working for Marcos, FVR was also one of the ‘leaders’ during EDSA I.

He turned his back against the Marcoses and went with the Filipino people to oust the dictator. He would later on be Cory Aquino’s Defense secretary then a president himself.

As a president, FVR was known for stabilizing the economy through his reforms; he also repealed the Anti-Subversion Law which was prone to red-tagging abuse.

As someone who worked for him. I can definitely attest to the greatness of FVR and the legacy he left behind. His style of leadership and governance is sorely needed by this country.

These two key figures are far from morally perfect. One moment they’re with the Filipino people, another they’re against the Filipino people.

However, without dismissing their wrongs, we acknowledge that these two defying Marcos during People Power I was more than just a small part of the ousting.

FVR for one, some people believe, served atonement through service after martial law which the Marcoses never did.

And isn’t this why they continue to climb up the ladder? To restore their family’s name, to distort history, to hide the truth? Because they do not want to serve reparations. They cannot handle the justice that must be served with the truth.

Today, the dictator’s son is our president. That too is the truth. To govern well, he and his family do not have to revise history.

He should just do the right thing—for the economy, for the environment, for the poor especially.

That is the best vindication for the Marcoses, not a lousy movie that tells lies about what happened to them in 1986.

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