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[Ponderings] Bayan Ko

Philip Suzara


[Ponderings] Bayan Ko

By Philip Suzara

Pondering… as I sit here at the edge of my mythical life pond.

One can see many things happening at the edge of life’s pond, as in any pond. Decisions are made there, life changing decisions, defining moments… to get in the pond, or not. The pond is encircled by its edges in different forms and kind: straight, jagged, rough, rocks, pebbles, sand, soil, or mud. Very much like people. No matter the differences we have, we all belong there… around the life pond, inside, outside, at the edge, but there.

We commemorate September 21, the 50th anniversary of Martial Law’s declaration.

Martial Law was the period when we witnessed man’s cruelty against fellow human beings for greed and power.

We bear personal witness to the abuses and atrocities committed by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. against the Filipino people, including the brutal suppression of dissent, the epic plunder of the nation’s resources, and the perpetuation of a culture of authoritarianism

The surviving freedom fighters and patriots are proud testaments to the dark and sordid reality of Martial Law and its attendant atrocities and pervasive violation of human rights: they came from different walks of life, from different ideological persuasions, from different struggles, in different arenas. Fired up by a noble desire to free our nation from the shackles of a tyrant, each one of them offered the prime of their youth with free and unbroken spirits… and the martyrs, their very precious blood and life to the Altar of Freedom!

When you commit to an ideal; you go plunge into it with eyes wide open and with the fullest of your will and consent and face all consequences of arrest and torture like a true patriot and freedom fighter. This was a huge setback for one who has resolved to fight for our people and our country’s freedom, and then lose his own personal freedom in its pursuit. They were huge setbacks, but no big deal. It is always sweet for a patriot to have something to lay at the Altar of Freedom, no matter the simplicity nor magnitude of that sacrifice!

And languish, we did, even as we lost our personal freedoms in pursuit of the nation’s – but life, in the clutches of the enemy, was made much bearable by dear family and friends who, as well, suffered in silence – and we continue to see them with sustained gratitude in the silence of our stares – with a touch of our hands – and the warmth of loving embrace – yes, they, too, suffered.

Slowly the pages of our life’s book get turned; it may take a while to finally get to close that chapter – if that is possible at all. We have to get healed from all our pains and hurts if we want to move on… and we can only do that if and when we forgive. And it comes so slowly… that road to forgiveness is paved with restorative justice – and slowly, it comes. In the meantime, we still struggle when the nightmares of the past come to visit. And forgive, we must!

We reject and denounce any attempt to represent that darkest of periods in our modern history as any kind of golden age, or that they ever happened at all.

We feel the resurgence of the culture of authoritarianism, so clearly reminiscent of martial law years, of political and social thinkers and activists with this administration’s red tagging, their trolls had been a systematic, well-funded attempt to revise history, downplay if not eliminate the atrocities from school books, and sanitize their family name for many years now. We do not want to forget the truth no matter how ugly it is, and other seemingly innocent but restrictive measures on civil liberties and human rights.

National unity can be based only on truth, justice, and the free exercise of civil liberties and human rights.

We swear to dedicate the remainder of our lives to bearing the torch of freedom under the threat of renewed repression, to cast the light of truth on our past and present, and to ensure that justice come to those who struggled and bore witness before us.

Many of our countrymen are not really aware and curious of the truth. We need them to do more critical thinking. We still have a lot of educating to do, we also have to consistently fight and expose the lies foisted on us.

We are in the biblical phenomenon of the “wandering in the desert” after our exodus from the dark ages of ML.

Now, we are back to square one with the “people” creating and worshipping their golden calf. Our moral bearings have been assaulted. Hogwash and PR spins come from the new admin. A government is an institution that should take pride in teaching what we all believe to be true and proper; what is intrinsically and universally good – not what is misleading and subject to misinterpretation. They should be preaching the correct interpretation of good and evil.

This administration and that of his predecessor are sorry departures of a benevolent government that exists to serve its people, not the other way around.

I think that this is part of the new “colonizer” order of the new admin. Our colonizers are not foreigners but a certain group of people like the preceding dispensation the left us with empty coffers and richer cronies, and now, we have the new conquerors. They are not our true blue patriots.

All our efforts will not go wasted if we hold on and keep pounding the rock. We need a sharper sword to slay the dragon, and a sharper sword will mean a louder voice. The more of us together, the louder our voice will be. Let all our voices roar for Justice, Democracy, and Freedom!

50 years has passed and the wounds just fester as though they never healed. At once, it evokes feelings of pain and anger, and the experiences have etched their indelible marks in our hearts and minds despite the passage of time; and how does one move on, how, and when does one forgive?

How can you forgive someone who has not asked forgiveness but has done all sorts of strategy to avoid culpability? The courts have judged them guilty yet they are roaming scot-free – and the irony is that he is President.

But yes, you still can forgive even if the one who aggrieved you is not repentant, IF, and this is the big IF, these were private sins. But the atrocities of the Marcoses are public sins against the nation and even future generations.

This is a case when it is NOT un-Christian to withhold forgiveness and continually demand accountability. We can only move on when restorative justice has been served. I fully agree with this statement. I was tortured and thereafter detained for six years. There has been no repentance, nor even an attempt towards restitution from the Marcoses. What makes this more appalling is that the Marcos children have been shamelessly trying to regain power to protect their interests – and his son is now President!

I know about willingness to forgive and forgiveness; Christ admonishes us to be willing to forgive the repentant sinner, it cannot be complete without the perpetrator seeking forgiveness and restorative justice administered — only then can the complete healing begin to happen, it is a process.

We summon the heavens for healing… that God will make it happen.

God bless us all. We pray and we hope.

And let me add, we need to continue praying a little more — our prayers are being answered, just not in the way we were expecting.

May today’s commemoration serve as a grim reminder to always push back whenever you find yourself being pushed against the wall.


Pondering, as I sit here at the edge of life’s pond.


Let me invite you to sing and contemplate on the words of this song about our one and only beloved country…

“Ang bayan kong Pilipinas Lupain ng ginto’t bulaklak Pag-ibig na sa kanyang palad

Nag-alay ng ganda’t dilag

At sa kanyang yumi at ganda Dayuhan ay nahalina

Bayan ko, binihag ka Nasadlak sa dusa

Ibon mang may layang lumipad Kulungin mo at umiiyak

Bayan pa kayang sakdal-dilag Ang ‘di magnasang makaalpas

Pilipinas kong minumutya

Pugad ng luha at dalita

Aking adhika Makita kang sakdal laya

Ibon mang may layang lumipad Kulungin mo at umiiyak

Bayan pa kayang sakdal-dilag

Ang ‘di magnasang makaalpas

Pilipinas kong minumutya

Pugad ng luha at dalita

Aking adhika

Makita kang sakdal laya!

Philip Suzara
Creature of God. Child of the Universe. Global Citizen. Lover of Life. Freedom Fighter. Agent of Change. Lone Wolf. Occasional Consultant for Strategic Communications.

Original publication date on NYK website: March 14, 202

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