By Menchu Aquino Sarmiento
In the war against disinformation and historical revisionism, our weapons are the truth and historical memory. The lies started over 70 years ago with Marcos Sr.’s fake war medals and his claim that Gregorio Aglipay, the founder of the Philippine Independent Church, passed on his anting-anting to him. Today, bright young things from top universities, use their marketing smarts and skills to manufacture, mutate, micro-target and amplify more lies. They have sold our country and their souls for millions of rapidly depreciating pesos.
During Pres. Noynoy’s term, the social media enhanced disinformation storm grew stronger and darker. Being a decent man who did not live or operate in darkness, PNoy had scoffed at the outlandishness of the lies. He didn’t see the need to defend himself or to discredit them. The rational didn’t believe that sane people would actually fall for such outrageousness. “The truth will come out,” he used to say. But the last three elections have shown that this is not so. Apart from the return and distribution to the 31 million of the Tallano Gold, Yamashita Treasure and billions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth, here are some other lies the 31M take for gospel truth:
ang Pilipinas ang may ari ng World Bank kaya OK lang na bumagsak ang ekonomiya basta natalo si VPL;
hindi totoo na may kaso si BBM sa America kasi nasa Australia siya ngayon at ang Australia ay bahagi ng U.S.A.;
merong mga degree si BBM na hindi lang ma-Google, kaya natanggap siya sa Wharton.
Do not allow our voices to be silenced. Continue to question and to shout out the truth, especially by holding to account the government agencies which enable impunity. Amnesty International and the PEN International Writers in Prison program have had successes through prolonged, repeated letter writing campaigns to concerned government agencies, to media editors, and the continuous resonant posting on social media platforms. Get exposure in foreign publications especially in countries where there are many Filipinos.
Here are some areas which the peaceful truth-tellers should keep on highlighting by continuing to send messages to and about the following:
the COMELEC for its very late decisions on the BBM election disqualification issues;
the COMELEC to transparently address the many issues raised regarding the 2022 elections themselves;
the BIR and the DOJ regarding the many utang of the Marcos family estate—not just the estate tax—but also the the court judgments on Marcos Sr.’s human rights violations and for Imelda’s convictions;
on FB and Instagram, keep on publicly commemorating the memories of the many Marcos Martial Law victims, the Negros Famine, the Manila Film Center massacre—with contrasting posts about how the Marcoses lived it up.
At least this election showed us the great knowledge disconnect. Destroying our historical memory will destroy us as a Filipino nation. There’s nothing like getting personal or pakikipagkapwa-tao. So do engage with your local school teachers and church workers or other neighborhood micro-influencers like the sari-sari store proprietor, beauty salon operator. Guide them towards realizing that our nation’s problems and their suffering are not due to the Pinklawan, but go back for many decades and were exploited and exacerbated by Marcos Sr. Teach the true history of Marcos Martial Law and the humongous debts which Marcos Sr. saddled us with, na hanggan ngayon ay binabayaran pa natin—na dinagdagan pa ng P13 Trillion ng tatay ni Sara. They should understand that when public money is stolen, that’s so much less for public health, education, transportation, flood control and other things a democratic government owes us.
DepEd’s K-12 curriculum has practically erased social studies, history, Philippine Literature and the Humanities in general. Pati P.E. naging 1 hour a week nalang, all making for sick minds in unhealthy bodies. Keeping people ignorant makes it easier to manipulate and to control them. Volunteers are using their own money to buy the Aklat Adarna Never Again package and distribute these to small private schools and daycare centers. They also talk with the teachers about how they will introduce, read and discuss the stories with their students.
There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come. Sa gobiyernong tapat, angat buhay lahat is one such idea that has sparked a movement that continues to grow. We must keep the flame alight. Free their minds, and the rest will follow.
Menchu Aquino Sarmiento is an award-winning writer and a social concerns advocate. IRL (In Real Life) are short verbal pagmumuni-muni, the essay equivalent of fast fiction–but in real life. She really wants more Filipinos to care, and to do something legal and non-violent about it, preferably together, so that we act more like a civilized country, a mature democracy.