One of the most unforgivable sins of the three-decade-old Yellow regime is its imposition of a zero-sum view of Philippine history, which posits that everything Ferdinand Marcos did was bad, while maintaining that nothing the Aquinos did was wrong. At the very least, the good that Marcos did was never acknowledged post-1986, while all the terrible things committed by the Yellows were never really brought to light.
The historian Van Ybiernas of De La Salle University explained to me that this polarized, scorched-earth narrative of Philippine history is still being applied to this day for contemporary political reasons. In other words, it is still accepted as politically beneficial to foist this theory upon the population, even if professing it makes the process of coming up with an objective consensus of what really happened, particularly during the Marcos martial law years, extremely difficult.
Ybiernas, like most people not afflicted with the Yellow disease, is of the belief that while some really terrible things happened during the Marcos years, there were also some really very good things that took place. Unfortunately, any attempt to go against this still-prevailing historical view, even through the presentation of fact and official records, is immediately derided as “revisionist” by majority of Filipino historians, Ybiernas said.
Ybiernas recounts how, as a consultant of the Philippine Gazette right after the assumption of President Rodrigo Duterte, he single-handedly ignited a firestorm of protest from his colleagues by writing that martial law was declared by Marcos in 1972 because of the increasing threat of a Communist takeover of the government. “The dominant theory is that Marcos declared martial law to extend his term of office which they want to emphasize, but the existing Communist threat is well documented and is even contained in Proclamation 1081 as the reason for the imposition of martial law,” Ybiernas told me.
While it is true, as Churchill said, that history is written by the victors, the dogmatic, Aquino-enamored view post-1986 seems to have undergone a sea change 45 years after martial law was imposed. The rise of Bongbong Marcos, who would probably have become vice president had massive election cheating not attended last year’s elections, is a testament to that.
The truth is, the two Aquino presidencies since Ferdinand Marcos could have indefinitely postponed the development of a more objective historical narrative, had they actually delivered on their promises to uplift the lives of Filipinos. But that didn’t happen—and in almost every metric used to measure presidential performance, Marcos still compares favorably to Cory and Noynoy, when he doesn’t clearly leave these two successors of his in the dust.
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The good thing is, the intransigence of the Yellow-enamored historical community now has to contend with the purely organic revision of their beloved theory, which developed unbidden and coincided with the election of an acknowledged admirer of the elder Marcos in Duterte. The rejection by the voters last year of the Aquino-backed candidate, Mar Roxas, may be primarily because of Roxas’ own inadequacies—but the election of the Marcos-friendly Duterte is also a clear indication that the Animal Farm-inspired historical view of the Yellows is now all but consigned to the dustbin.
Bongbong nearly made it to the vice presidency (and probably really won, if Smartmatic and Andy Bautista had not intervened). And Duterte proved that being a declared fan of Ferdinand is definitely not a political kiss of death.
Recently, some social media denizens dredged up a quote from that proto-Yellow, Ninoy Aquino, who once fulminated in the pre-martial law Senate against the elder Marcos’ infrastructure projects by haughtily asking: “Can the people eat infrastructure?” Of course, when Ninoy’s son Noynoy hosted his last big event, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila at the end of his term, he had no choice but to use one of the Marcos infrastructure projects his father hated so much—the Philippine International Convention Center.
Marcos did many things, good and bad. And the Aquinos, despite their refusal to accept the reality of Marcos’ achievements and their own failings, were equally human, with high and low points.
But to say that Marcos is the devil incarnate while Cory and Noynoy were God’s gifts to the Filipinos is not only wrong but also historically unjustified. Besides, the people already know the truth, no matter how many Yellow historians deny it.
So the next time you hear people wondering why the nation seems so irreparably divided, remember that this is the legacy of the dual myth of Marcos’ supposed irredeemably evil reign and the alleged goodness of the Aquino presidencies. And ask yourself, assuming that Churchill is correct, why the losers still insist on imposing their uncompromising historical fairy tale on the rest of us.