The Museum Was Built So No One Would Forget. Now It’s Falling Apart.


“We have now been in a regime the place one disappointment got here after the subsequent after which the subsequent,” stated Might Rodriguez, the chief director of the museum. “However this time, that is the primary actual critical disappointment of our younger folks.”

Ms. Rodriguez, 68, is main a gaggle of volunteers in an effort to digitize paperwork courting from the Marcos period. She stated she is set to “struggle very onerous” if the brand new authorities tries to take again the land that the museum sits on in Quezon Metropolis, one of many important websites of the rebellion that toppled Mr. Marcos’s father in 1986.

Already, a pitched battle over the reality is being waged throughout the Philippines. Celebrities and influencers have gone on TikTok and YouTube to inform their followers concerning the human rights abuses of the Marcos period, whereas the top of the Philippines’ intelligence company has accused a neighborhood publishing home of making an attempt to “subtly radicalize” younger Filipinos by promoting books on martial legislation to youngsters.

Colloquially referred to as Bantayog, or “monument” in Filipino, the museum has obtained roughly 50 queries from folks wanting to go to and be taught extra concerning the dictatorship since Mr. Marcos gained the race, based on Ms. Rodriguez.

There was comparable enthusiasm in 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to relocate the older Marcos’s remains to the Philippines’ equal of Arlington Nationwide Cemetery. 1000’s of individuals gathered in Manila to protest Mr. Duterte’s resolution, which many noticed as a shameless try to assist rehabilitate the Marcos household identify.

It additionally “woke folks up,” Ms. Rodriguez stated. “Particularly the younger.”

Edicio G. De La Torre, a trustee on the museum, not too long ago informed a gaggle of 4 younger guests that he was apprehensive concerning the establishment’s future. Mr. De La Torre, who was a political prisoner for 9 years, acknowledged throughout the dialog that he and his friends had not achieved sufficient to coach younger folks about martial legislation.

“Each time I really feel down or depressed, I really feel responsible,” he stated.

Ilia Uy, one of many younger guests, stated she solely realized of the museum three years in the past, and that, as a toddler of the post-1986 era, she felt as if democracy was a birthright within the Philippines.

“What’s missing is the connection between your era and our era,” she informed Mr. De La Torre. “I assume it’s dawning on our era that now we have to struggle,” she stated. “And we aren’t used to it.”

On the museum, guests are invited to face in a duplicate of a jail cell created from the reminiscence of a sufferer who was raped and tortured throughout the regime. The Wall of Remembrance, a towering black wall exterior the constructing, lists the names of those that have been killed.

Mr. De La Torre, 78, stated he knew a lot of them. “And I believe, if my identify have been up there, what would I would like the survivors to do?”

The Marcoses have been exiled from the Philippines in 1986, the 12 months the Folks Energy revolt introduced down their regime. However when the family returned in the early 1990s, nobody was imprisoned, regardless of the federal government saying the Marcoses had looted as much as $10 billion from the country’s Treasury.

With nobody held accountable, conflicting narratives unfold, some arguing for the household’s innocence, others for its guilt.

Marcos supporters have used social media to explain the federal government’s accusation of theft as a political witch hunt meant to distort a “golden period” of financial improvement. Textbooks have glossed over the implications of martial legislation. No Reality and Reconciliation Fee was ever shaped to permit the nation to look at its previous.

Mr. Marcos, who has repeatedly stated he wouldn’t apologize for his father’s legacy, has shunned most media requests and stated little about his household after successful the election. He referred to as his victory in Might a “valuable expression of trust.”

Ms. Rodriguez, the chief director, was herself a sufferer of martial legislation, arrested twice in 1975 and 1983 for writing and distributing articles that criticized the federal government. She was charged with distributing “subversive supplies.” Troopers put cigarettes out on her physique, beat her up and sexually assaulted her, she stated.

She grew to become government director of the Monument of Heroes in 2015. The group runs totally on donations, and a scarcity of funds is “our largest menace for the time being,” she stated.

If she will be able to get sufficient cash, Ms. Rodriguez stated, the objective is to make the museum extra interactive, with video clips so guests can “deconstruct the half truths” on-line. “Once they come into the museum, I would like them to know that the final two or three years — perhaps even longer — has been a battle for fact and lies,” she stated.

With a second Marcos presidency only a few weeks away, many martial legislation victims fear that the road between fact and lies might be irreversibly blurred.

On a current Thursday afternoon on the museum, Cora de Guzman Navarro, 68, introduced a bouquet of pink roses, the colour of Ms. Robredo’s marketing campaign, to position in entrance of her brother’s identify on the Wall of Remembrance.

His identify was Lucio de Guzman, a founding father of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Get together of the Philippines. She hadn’t been on the museum in additional than two years. She began weeping as she recalled her brother’s torture and dying by the hands of the army.

Ms. de Guzman Navarro turned to a girl who was standing close by and requested for a hug. Rose Bueno-Esteban positioned her arm round her. She, too, was there to recollect her personal brother, whose identify was David T. Bueno, a human rights lawyer who was shot by a gunman exterior his workplace in Ilocos Norte, the Marcos household’s stronghold.

The ladies realized that each males have been killed in 1987, when Corazon Aquino was president. Though Mrs. Aquino had banned torture, she retained a few of the Marcos safety forces, a lot of whom continued to hold out extrajudicial killings.

“I do know it’s been years since 1987 and now we have to maneuver on,” Ms. de Guzman Navarro stated, her eyes moist with tears. “But it surely’s nonetheless there, the ache.”

Camille Elemia and Jason Gutierrez contributed reporting.

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