I am 21 years old and have not obviously lived through Martial Law, but I’ve heard and read a lot of stories about it, such as those claiming that it was the ‘Golden Age’ of the Philippine economy.
So, as a curious mongrel that I am, I have been researching for quite some time about the era. But in line with the Martial Law anniversary this year, I also recently had a meaningful conversation with Steven, my close friend who is an avid supporter of the Marcoses and a believer that Martial Law is the ‘Golden Age’ of the Philippines’ economy.
Steven and I met during our high school days. We’ve become the best of friends. Although we have differing views most of the time, we have kept our friendship.
When we talk about politics, this often leads to him spouting words on how he avidly idolizes the Marcoses.
We grew up in a completely different type of political setting — Steven grew up in a household filled with Marcos supporters, while I grew up in a politically liberal household.
“I have been supporting the Marcoses for so long, and alam ko na golden age talaga ang Martial Law noon, especially na ang daming naipatayo na infrastractures at booming ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.” Steven said.
His answer quite gave me an understanding on the perspective of a Martial Law supporter. Avid Marcos supporters - regardless of the facts that show how Martial Law damaged our country and economy - still support this story.
Martial Law may have boosted the Philippines' economy at the start, but the repercussions of massive corruption and sky high loans, that are well-documented, has affected the country for years to come.
Steven is actually an intellectual. He’s topping his class and excelling at most of the things that he loves to do. But when it comes to evidence regarding Martial Law, and how it isn’t the "Golden Age" of the Philippines’ economy, he often negates facts.
When I presented him some data, but he said, “Mali ka riyan, kasi konti lang mahirap noong panahon ng Martial Law. Sila papa na rin ang nagsabi na mas madaling mamuhay noon kesa ngayon.”
In trying to see his perspective, I have removed my biases even though our family had a traumatic experience with the Marcos regime. But I still asked Steven, “Bakit ka pa rin naniniwala na golden age ng Philippine economy ang Martial Law, kung mayroong mga ebidensya na nagsasabing hindi naman talaga?”.
Martial Law may have boosted the Philippine economy at the start, but the repercussions of massive corruption and sky high loans, that are well-documented, has affected the country for years to come.
Steven answered, “Alam ko naman na may lapses din, pero anong administrasyon ba ang wala? Di ba lahat meron? Atsaka marami rin naman din nagawa ang Martial Law sa ekonomiya ng Pilipinas. Bakit tayo titingin sa mga masasamang bagay, kung pwede naman tignan ang mga magandang nangyari, diba?”
“Pero may point lahat ng pinakita mo, siguro kaya naniniwala pa rin ako na Golden Age ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas noong Martial Law, dahil siguro sa pride at nakasanayan na. Atsaka, pamilya kami na sumusuporta sa mga Marcos, malamang susuportahan din namin yung Martial Law,” he added.
Hindi madaling iwanan yung mga nakasanayan.
With his answers, I witnessed that it was pride and fear that’s stopping Steven from letting go of his distorted views. We continued talking, and I asked him this last question, “Alam mo na pala na may ganoong pangyayari, so bakit gusto mo pa rin silang suportahan?”
It took him a minute or so, before he answered, “Hindi madaling iwanan yung mga nakasanayan. Atsaka alam mo naman sa pamilya namin, masyadong mainit ang usapan kapag Marcos ang usapan. Naiintindihan ko naman yung mga gusto niyong iparating, pero siyempre, sa takot ko rin sa pamilya ko. Doon na lang din ako sa kung saan ako sa hindi masyadong maaapektuhan.”
I’ve been friends with him for almost nine years now, and I’ve been to their house. It’s been a long friendship, so I knew that in his answers, Steven wasn’t completely ignorant — rather, he was scared.
It’s frightening to go against your family, especially if your political view opposes theirs. We don’t know what might happen, so Steven may just be playing safe and silent. Some families are restricted and binded with familial identity and political loyalty, and it’s the latter for Steven’s case.
We finished our conversation, and Steven’s last words made me sympathize with him. He said, “Hindi naman din madali. Gusto ko rin namang mabago pa pag-iisip ko, pero hindi ko alam kung saan magsisimula at hindi ko alam kung magiging ayos ba sa pamilya ko.”
I may not have experienced Martial Law firsthand, but I realized that being ignorant is just the same as siding with those who oppressed the less privileged.
I sympathize, because at some point, I also encountered some elders who experienced Martial Law. The same elders who haven’t experienced the hardships of some Filipinos during Martial Law, either because they themselves were ignorant and weren’t affected.
Steven was affected and influenced by his family’s political stance, but I think he just needed more time to live with the truth about Martial Law.
I realized that some of our friends have left Steven because they got tired of his political views, but if no one will enlighten him, then who will?
I may not have experienced Martial Law firsthand, but I realized that being ignorant is just the same as siding with those who oppressed the less privileged