He sat there looking a the screen wondering how could this happen? Political Resiliency or the Restoration of Power to a country’s leader is nothing new. In England did was not the Stuart Family restored after the Cromwell’s death or the Medici’s exile and return to Florence. With the restoration of the Stuarts the body of Cromwell was dug up, hang and quartered for the crime of Regicide. So yes political comeback was nothing new but political revisionism followed only after the restoration. Not so in the case of the Marcoses of the Philippines. Perhaps it is the sign of the times. In the Age of Information it is easy to post or change records – like with what happened recently in the Marcos articles in wikipedia and the posts through out social networking sites. And this caused a great deal of controversy online, aggravated by Ateneo having the Imeldam the Iron Butterfly descend upon them as a honorary guest of an event. And he sat there amazed because he lived during those times, he was a Martial Law baby.
Sons and daughters should not pay for the sins of their father. But we should also not forget the sins and crimes of the father.
His first memory of Marcos and Martial Law was a TV screen devoid of everything but cartoons. They were playing cartoons all day long when Martial Law was declared. He learned later that the newspapers and radio stations were shut down except for Hans Menzi’s Manila Bulletin. People were detained from industrialists named Concepcion and Lopezes to newspapermen like Louie Beltran and Max Soliven. The biggest political prisoners were Senator Benigno Aquino and Senator Pepe Diokno. Both were sent to prisons outside of Manila, not a hospital nor special detention centers.
His second memory of Marcos and Martial Law was the man himself. The baritone voice. The man in barony. The man who when he spoke to the nation got all four television and all radio stations to focus on him. The man who described the old society as corrupt and ushered in the New Society to make the Nation Great Again. The man who was not ashamed to show how healthy he was and even skiing somewhere in the Philippines: The Philippines Strongman. He was FM, he was the Apo and he was Macoy.
His third memory of Macoy was you hated or loved him there was no middle ground. Those who opposed him hated him. Those who supported him loved him. Those he jailed without benefit of a warrant and sometimes a court hearing hated him. Those who benefited from his projects loved him. Those who were sacrificed for this projects did not fear him. There is no fear for the dead. Those who saw him confiscate the property from the oligarchs cheered him. Those who had their property taken and were forced to give concessions to Macoy hated him. Those who saw how he took over those businesses and gave it to his family and friends – began to question his sincerity, Crony Capitalism came to be, a white paper xeroxed or photocopy began to circulate around … did he just displaced the old oligarchs and created new one with himself as the biggest Oligarch?
The fourth memories of Macoy was of course the stories and anecdotes. Macoy’s shooting of his father’s political rival while he was brushing his teeth – Nalundasan. His subsequent trial, defines and pardon from Chief Justice Laurel. Why did this happen? Some say it was because Laurel when he was young was in a similar predicament and the family had to sell their mountain property to get his freedom – that mountain property eventually became Tagaytay. Some even say that Laurel was impressed by Macoy’s legal brilliance that he thought it would be a waste to see such talent jailed. Other memories in this group also included dinner and party conversations about Macoy being psychic; Macoy only ate food cooked by his mother Dona Josefa; and the scandal resulting from his affair with Dovie Beams and their bedroom recordings – some believed recorded by Beams herself or the boys from the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Most news were spread by gossip and talk, there was no other alternative the newspaper and tv stations were basically just singing praises for Macoy. Still you could not stop the people from talking:
Marcos and General Ver were in Hell. For their punishment Satan placed them in Gehenna’s
Quicksand. Of the two Ver was the one sinking faster. Marcos was in fact not sinking at all. This prompted Ver to shout.”Sir, I knew you did more crime and bad things while we were alive, but you are not sinking at all! What?!!”
Marcos looked at him and admonished him,”Do not shout, be quite, you might be walking up Imelda, I am standing on her. Shhhhhh!
The fifth memories of Macoy came from boxes of yellow newspaper – slowly burning in time. There were articles about Oplan Jabidah and even Oplan Sagittarius. Coupled with talk of the Rolex 12 – men who had planned Martial Law with Marcos. All together this painted a very mixed picture of Macoy. During his inauguration after winning against Alejo Santos the chorus sang Handel’s Messiah: “And He shall reign for ever and ever.” Everyone in the sala was dumbfounded.
Macoy was mixed bag. A political sphinx lording over the Philippines but even Sphinxes get old.
Macoy’s reign did not last forever. His age and failing health (which he hid from the public) and the assassination of Ninoy led to his downfall. A snap election against the Widow of Ninoy, Tita Cory, desertion of his Armed forces, the Edsa Revolution and the Americans spiriting him to Hawai and not Paoay led to his exile in Hawaii. One of the last images of the dying Strongman was him on a bed being crooned by Imelda with the song Dahil Sa Iyo. Macoy returned to the country a preserved corpse like Evita Peron, on perpetual display in Ilocos Norte.
He saw Marcos once up close.It was during one of those citizen military events at the Rizal Stadium. He was part of the honour guard. Before Macoy came his security in short sleeved barong inspected the spring fields. It was redundant, the firing pins were removed … I suppose we could have clubbed him. Then the black limousine came, at least he thought it was a limousine – one of those american cars – black, wide and shut. Imelda came out first and then Macoy. She was taller than him. Macoy stood before us and gave a snappy salute and proceeded to the grand stand. And that was the only time.
Looking back now in his mind one thing that could not be denied by anyone was that Macoy was probably one of the intelligent leaders this country ever had. He did good and he did bad. He built roads and had several programs of government. Read the Amnesty International Reports, talk to people who were jailed or people whose family disappeared. Try to look at the White Paper that detailed the wealth of Macoy and his cronies. He killed free speech. His imposition of Martial Law politicised the Armed Forces, leaving seeds of Adventurism and would-be Napoleans waiting to pick up the crown of the Philippine Republic from the gutter. Ironically, a politicised Armed Forces led to his eventual ouster and left us with a legacy of coups and putsches.
Macoy was a complex man. His accomplishments and his sins are his own. These are not the accomplishment and sins of his sons and daughters. They do not pay for the sins of their Father. However, It is also to remember our country’s dealing with Macoy.
Looking back he though the outcome would have been different if instead of sending Macoy to exile in Hawaii, try him here in the Philippines. And win a conviction.
Despite the propaganda online he remembered something he read a long time ago: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.