A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
The above text is part of Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered on June 16, 1858, at what was then the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, upon accepting the Illinois Republican Party‘s nomination as that state’s United States senator.
A century and three scores later, the same words still apply to a country in the Southeast Asia, the Philippines. The Filipinos may consider themselves literally free, but this freedom is what pinned them down to the category of a slave—in a very subtle manner.
While many Filipinos are making their names in worldwide history, like Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa and many others who take home victory and pride, their fellow citizens are suffering in their very own homeland due to unending political issues.
Today, a number of Filipinos marched towards the historical Luneta Park for a Black Friday protest. This protest resulted from the sneaky burial of the then expelled dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The Supreme Court, after twenty-seven years from Marcos’ death, allowed him to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani burial grounds. Those who were victims under his reign protested, for this burial place is reserved only for the heroes of the country.
During Marcos’ time, he implemented Martial Law in the year 1972. This was the year that a number of Filipinos were missing. Some were exiled to the United States, like the late former Senator Benigno Aquino. Some fled to the mountains as rebels, television networks were closed down and the news was blacked out—to name just a few of what the citizens of the country went through.
On August 21, 1983, Senator Benigno Aquino returned to the Philippines without minding the dangers of his life. True enough, while he was still on the tarmac, he was shot in the head. The culprit behind his death? Still an unsolved case until now.
Aquino’s assassination is credited with transforming the opposition to the Marcos regime from a small, isolated movement into a nationally unified crusade. It is also credited with thrusting Aquino’s widow, Corazon Aquino, into the public spotlight and her running for president in the snap election of 1986. Though Marcos was officially declared the winner of the election, widespread allegations of fraud and illegal tampering on Marcos’s behalf is credited with sparking the People Power Revolution, which resulted in Marcos fleeing the country and conceding the presidency to Corazon Aquino. (Wikipedia)
Marcos died on September 28, 1989, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His family brought his remains back to the Philippines four years later, which were interred in a refrigerated crypt in Ilocos Norte.
On November 18, 2016, through the approval of the newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani (Heroe’s Cemetery). The burial was considered sneaky since only a few knew about it. It was kept secret for reasons only the Marcos family knew. This move created upheaval among the Filipino people, especially the victims of the Martial Law.
The Marcos family and their supporters reasoned out that it is already time to forget about the past, move on and be united. However, the move of granting their wish made the country divided the more. Thus, today’s protest. Some Filipinos could not accept the fact that one dictator, whom the country once consider as theft and traitor, lay buried along those who offered their lives just to save the country.
The country is still faced with another dilemma: rampant killings due to the government’s crusade of war against drugs. The Filipinos are also divided on this issue.
The sad fact is, when one voice out his opinion, he would be bullied, if not called a drug lord.
It is slavery then that make the people act the way they do: slave to self-interests, slave to fanaticism, slave to twisted ideologies…
What happened Philippines? Why are your people fighting against each other? The poor are crying out because poverty has not been solved. Until when are we to remain a part of the third world? Who can better lead us out of this slavery?
My heart is wounded. My soul is saddened. Am I really free? As a person, yes. As to the attachment of the word Filipino in my name, I don’t think so.
To my fellow Filipinos who desire peace and progress, let us march towards our dreams. It is only ourselves who can help ourselves much better than anybody else. Let us live a life of freedom one day at a time. Real freedom is within us. We could learn from our painful past. But it is only the future that holds our destiny, of what we could become. Let us focus in here. Who knows, through our little actions, the generation succeeding us would wake up one day in a much better, much peaceful, more united Philippines.