What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.
Obviously, for Ateneo and St. Scholastica, the fact that they are the alma maters of former Presidents Cory and Noynoy was what compelled their management to throw their support behind the two. I would’ve understood their move if (a) FEM closed down these schools during Martial Law, or (b) they’re not run by Catholic religious and priests. They’re neither. Hence, what’s disturbing for the 80% Catholics in this country as well as the rest who are not, is they are themselves doing the very thing they so hotly preach against: idolatry. They readily abandon their professions of poverty and love for their Bride and His teachings in order to side with “creatures” and their earthly sentiment. By propagating extremist or one-sided views, fanaticism over one personality (Aquino) as opposed to another (Marcos), attacking the human being (Marcos), and fueling the fires of factionalism and opportunism are not actions done in and with Love nor carry peaceable outcomes. Such irresponsible actions by the management of these Catholic institutions throws light on the utilization of Religion to flame extremism and fanaticism. The national hero, Jose Rizal, himself an Atenean, in writing Noli Me Tangere said, I have unmasked the hypocrisy, which, under the cloak of Religion, came among us to impoverish us.
My parents were college students during Martial Law. Their separate stories was that the army had been visible but life in their communities went on as usual. How come? “The military, authorities knew who they were watching out for. If you are not doing anything bad, you don’t have anything to fear.” That is the story of the Filipino masses at that time. They went about their daily lives in the usual way. Those who held grudges or “picked up” by the military were those in the blacklist ie. those who finally forced a legitimate government to activate a national state of emergency. Just as what the US did post 9/11- the military relentlessly tracked down known anti-Government leaders and groups. If Mendiola had not been bombed (or, the attack on the twin towers not done by Al Qaeda), Martial Law would not have been declared (or, anti-terrorism wars on countries not instigated). These are the facts of Martial Law.
With opposition leaders, the Philippine Government in comparison has been more lenient perhaps as it’s strategy to keep peace with all factions that try to wrestle power from the Government. In time, they were allowed to hold the highest of positions ie. Senators and now, in the brink of getting Executive pardon. But what are we hearing recently? Those who were shown tolerance (despite the many innocent lives they’ve taken away) are the ones who do not want to extend the same to others. Instead, they have boldly cast the first stone and started to sow again seeds of hatred, division, and disinformation. As to justice for “victims”, former President Cory put up the PCGG for the purpose of meting justice post-Martial Law but look PCGG was not able to do it because it became riddled with corruption, vested (kanya-kanya) interests over supposedly sequestered wealth. It is corrupt authorities not former President Marcos or his surviving family who are the culprits to delayed justice. Clearly, the lines between truth and untruth or half truth have been blurred.
My fellow educated Filipinos, especially those with university degrees, stop a while and think. Really discern. And let us be smart about our decision. Whose war are we expending our time and energies for? Why should we, young people, the ones on the frontlines in this? Why not them- those still alive and part of that Martial Law era: Ramos, Enrile, the Communists, others behind the scene etc.? Why should we fight their war, one they started? If they shoot each other in the face because all insist they are without fault well fine go ahead. Actually that is more honorable as it will save young generations and gullible Filipinos from machinations.
Let us not be used as hosts of old time hatred, fanaticism, anger, and furtherance of vested interests. Our wars are these: the sleeping cases of the Maguindanao massacre and the corruption of money we so worked hard for (PDAF), continuing corruption, land for the landless, rights of IPs, the continuing ignorance of the Filipino masses, the sale and neglect of our children, jobs for graduates year after year, quality infrastructures and services by local government units, among others. Our passion and energies should be expended toward these. Let us shout for justice for the journalists who have been massacred until our voices are hoarse. Let us shout for justice for the people/taxpayers over the PDAF cases until we are almost faint. Let us shout for quality education of the Filipino masses until the last person from the masa has been schooled. But why haven’t we been as passionate about these causes? Is it because we found that to fight for these on a daily basis is not as easy as taking on a readily-available template of activism? Let us not be lazy.
I believe many have already watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. In the story, there is this magical being Obscurus that’s reminiscent of Sauron in Lord of the Rings. When unleashed through it’s human host, known as an Obscurial, Credence Barebone, we see and feel what the concentrated power of hatred, vengeance, and anger is capable of. It destroys everything in it’s path, friend or foe. We see that Credence is an unlikely host- mild though insecure, yearning for understanding and assurance in a true friend. He has been adopted by Mary Lou Barebone who preaches fire, brimstone, and intolerance (of magic). At home, she often beats him for the slightest transgression of her rules. It’s strange that although he’s much taller and bigger than Mary Lou, he submits meekly to this punishment. He is also used by Percival Graves, head of the Authority on Magic. Ensnaring him with his charisma, Credence is made to believe that Percival is a true friend. But time reveals all things. So it comes as a surprise later on in the movie that Credence is the elusive Obscurial. My point in this allegory is that young Filipinos or those who continue to take part or allow themselves as hosts to old bitterness submit themselves to the true evil, one that has gripped this country since Rizal: Filipinos putting down, pulling down, fighting, betraying, and killing Filipinos. Also the story of Credence shows that hatred feeds on hatred ie. no matter how many times you kill a person to avenge yourself or another one would not be completely satisfied. Instead one thirsts for more blood.
I end with Jose Rizal’s dedication of his second novel El Filibusterismo to the three priests – Gomez, Burgos, Zamora – who were pronounced as traitors by Spain but known as martyrs among Filipinos:
The Church upon refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you; the Government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows, causes the belief that there was some error committed in fatal moments; and all the Philippines, by worshipping your memory and calling you martyrs, in no sense recognizes your culpability. In so far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite mutiny is not clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, and as you may or may not have cherished sentiments for justice and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evils which I undertake to combat. And while we await expectantly for Spain some day to restore your good name and to cease to be answerable for your death, let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of leaves over your unknown tombs, and let it be understood that everyone who without clear proofs attacks your memory stains his hands in your blood!