Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-Il, Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein, and Ferdinand Marcos. The trademark smiles, the reverberating rhetoric, and the seemingly endless roar of the masses that will still follow them to this date. These aren’t even basic requirements but rather a few of the factors that form the anatomy of a dictator. However, how is one labelled a dictator?
Is there a certain set of scholarly standards that one must attain from an independent educational body to be labelled as one? Or is it just one of the terms that millennials like to throw around whenever they feel oppressed by the haut monde gentry that seems to be ever so prevalent in every branch of government?
But how can one say no to the cries of thousands of people? Thousands of people who will not think twice of fighting for their leader, thousands who will defy and defend for their cause because at the end of the day, one’s own moral compass points to their own definition and direction of morality.
What’s a tad bit amusing is that in this day and age, the term is still ever so prevalent. In the Philippines, the youth is crying for Hustisya (justice,) but what do they know about a time that they never lived in?
The Marcos Burial
Ferdinand Marcos, former Philippine president (and who people often refer to as a dictator), was finally buried in one of the most iconic final resting places in the Philippines, The Libingan Ng Mga Bayani – or coarsely translated to “The Heroes Graveyard.” This is a perfectly legal move according to the high courts given his military background and his term as the president of a country for roughly two decades.
However, this move seemed to have beckoned in a new movement amongst the youth who have had enough of the family’s clout, with some even claiming that the family is attempting to rewrite history by burying a former dictator accused of heinous human rights violations in one of the most symbolically sacred locations in the country.
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) November 18, 2016
During the 2016 elections, the Vice Presidential race was dominated by two major candidates, now Vice President Maria Lenor “Leni” Robredo, and the late dictator’s son, and namesake, “Bong Bong” Marcos. This alone caused unrest amongst various sects in the country and further highlighted the alleged atrocities that his father committed during his regime.
Finally fulfilling his father’s wishes at what is most arguably one of the most sensitive times in Philippine politics has definitely divided the nation instead of uniting it, and how can one “bury the hatchet” when people still haven’t received justice for the hatchet’s wounds?
The Golden Age and The Hidden Gold
There are indeed many like the late President Marcos, Robert Mugabe, once united the nation against oppressive rule and sought to bring back an empowerment that has once displaced many people in society. However, at times, even the sincerest looking policies and intentions are often turned into greed and partial societal destruction. Mugabe’s land reform was botched, hyperinflation was the norm, and accusations of massive corruption were ever so prevalent to this date.
Many say the late President was revolutionary, and who can blame them? Massive projects with regard to culture, highways, hospitals, education, and even the arts were commissioned during his time. Most of the massive infrastructure with regard to logistics that the Philippines has today stemmed from his regime. Isn’t this enough to dub him a hero? But some people think that at the end of the day, all he was was a glorified shopper.
A rough economic analysis from Winnie Monsod of the Philippines during his rule will tell you that the average growth rate was only 3.8 percent per year on average. By far, lower than his predecessors with former President Macapagal closing in by posting a growth rate of only 4 percent. The projects were mostly funded through debt, and reports state that this debt would follow the Filipino people all the way to 2025.
Using this particular chain of thought one could argue that he wasn’t exactly the best economist, but people did enjoy having jobs and the implementation of the 13th month pay was his brainchild (or so people claim but it was actually a labor head’s).
According to the same renowned Filipino economist, the index for wage rates in 1972 was 100 and fell to 53.4 8 years later. This staggering, almost 50 percent drop created a ripple in the lives of the normal, ordinary and everyday Filipino.
What about the bonus pay during the festive season of December? Some have suggested that it was created in order to quell minimum wage workers’ cries for equality. In fact, it was under the rule of the late President Corazon Aquino that it was imposed for all workers in the Philippines – not during the Marcos regime – and we haven’t yet started on the reports of corruption.
The Father and The Other Fathers
Kim Jong-Il can be regarded as a great father, Kim Jong-Un and the rest of his siblings only got the best of the best. Like every other person in the world, he tried to be the best parent that he could be. In fact, the late president Marcos cared about his daughter Imee Marcos, so much so that he allegedly had her breast milk flown from Europe to the Philippines,because she couldn’t bring her newborn along with her in her travels. True or not, it doesn’t seem to be a far cry from the extravagance that their family enjoyed at the expense of the alleged corruption.
Beautiful homes in the United States and in the Philippines, lavish holidays, gems, cold cash, and most notoriously, the biggest collection of designer shoes. Couple this with their net worth being estimated to be at $10 billion in 1986, where could the Marcoses have had garnered their wealth when the president at that time was only making a meagre $4,700 per annum according to a New York Times article from 1986? This source, on the other hand, states that they amassed an estimated $5 billion, but 5 or 10, how can one possibly amass such wealth on such a tiny salary?
The other day, I heard a story of what happened to an Uber driver’s father after he confronted those that attacked his son during martial law. He never came back, but this wasn’t the only father that went missing. In total, 3,000 people were estimated to have been put to death during his rule, with more than 30,000 claiming human rights abuses and roughly 70,000 illegally imprisoned. How can more than 100,000 people be wrong?
The Apathetic Youth and The Pathetic Mindset
Critics of the recent mobilizations of the youth have denounced the public’s outcry against the burial of a “hero,” saying that millennials and the youth are being harnessed by political sectors in order to gain influence in government. However, the last time I checked, most of the people who joined the protests were all normal students of history (not literal students) who plainly hate being lied to.
Some have even said that we were never around during Martial Law, so we shouldn’t voice our opinions. If that were the case many should stop preaching the lessons of Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-Il, Robert Mugabe, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Ferdinand Marcos. In fact, eliminate the history of everything and live in the now.
It seems like the once unsettling movement of the “YOLO Youth” has transpired from the frailties of naive stupidity and has hit many close-minded individuals like a rewritten book of history.
millennials have been widely blamed for forgetting martial law, but yesterday, they tore that narrative to shreds. thousands upon thousands mobilized at a moment’s notice in universities all across the country. take a min to let that inspiration marinate. for all their money and political ties, it’s moments like yesterday that make me confident marcos revisionism will ultimately fail. #OccupyLNMB #MarcosMagnanakaw #MarcosNotaHero
However, we should still afford the family a level of respect for their grieving and we should look at the bigger picture. Dictator or not, we should still impart a tantamount level of esteem to a former president. However, this society is judged by the admiration we give to other people. Dictator or president, human rights violator or activist, young or old.
People should accept the fact that this generation cares. Nothing more, nothing less and we’re sorry if that offends you. The Marcos burial is seemingly almost a slap to this generation of Filipinos. Why is it so hard to accept the fact that millennials – with the advent of fact checking and technology – can actually make informed decisions based on patriotism?
The almost unforgivable delusion of grandeur that some people think of when they envision a glorified dictator may be difficult to swallow for many. But at the end of the day who are we to say? We’re maybe just too young to know better.
“There are those among us who will oppose—probably violently—these ideas. Let us hear them out. The democratic dialogue must be preserved. The clash of ideas is the glory and the safeguard of democracy.” (Ferdinand E. Marcos, State of the Nation Address, Jan. 27, 1969.)
You be the judge.
This feature does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial team, Tripped Media and Tune Media Pty Ltd.