The members of CONTEND join today our people—especially the victims and survivors of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship, and their families—in remembering the darkest period of our nation’s history. As teachers, we believe that those who control the memory of the past control our present and future. Thus, history can never be left solely to politicians, whether they are democratic or authoritarian. History is not the property of a political doctrine or the regime it serves. History is the people’s symbolic control of how we remember those who have been silenced. The Marcoses and their allies, including the Dutertes, can manipulate and distort history. But they cannot eliminate it in the narratives of those who survived.
As teachers, it is our solemn duty and responsibility to teach and keep alive these memories by sharing them with the younger generations, thereby resisting social amnesia. We have to teach against the willful forgetting that the Marcoses and their apologists want our people to do.
The Marcos family tells its victims and survivors to “move on.” Our protest and collective ritual of remembering today is our shared symbolic act, part of fighting this barbarism of the Marcoses, who want to create a community not of remembrance, but of organized, systematic, and deliberate forgetting.
As educators, we teach history so that memory becomes a tool of the small and weak. Forgetting serves the interests of the big and mighty. In this way, memory manifests itself as an alternative moral imagination in opposition to the logic of power. We therefore solemnly pledge to continuously teach history without revisions, without erasures. This is the only way we can honor the heroism and sacrifices of the 72 heroes and martyrs of our University, and the countless others who suffered under the Marcos dictatorship.
Recently, the Marcoses slyly attempted to seize the narrative by holding the reunion of the Kabataang Barangay (KB) on the very grounds of our University, on August 25, 2018 at Bahay ng Alumni. Our students, faculty, and alumni did not waste time in collectively denouncing this travesty upon the revered values and militant anti-fascist tradition of our University. Upon the impassioned instigations of faculty, students, and alumni, UP formally declared September 21 as a day of remembering of martial law on September 17, 2018. Our president, who participated in that infamous reunion, was compelled to apologize publicly and proclaim that UP will never be a home for dictators and fascist leaders and an instrument for oppressive regimes.
This shows that even when dictators are defeated, their totalitarian specter still haunts us. As a community, we must always be vigilant and guard against the encroachment of dictators, would-be dictators, and fascists who will use our University as their conduit and bribe our officials to advance their sinister interests. The unholy alliance of Duterte with the Marcoses, and the empowerment of the heinous former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, wholly underscore this administration’s tyranny.
We urge our fellow teachers, with their classes and students, to join our people in the collective struggle against forgetting, revisions, and historical erasures. Let us teach our students to steadfastly oppose all forms of dictatorship, especially the current administration that has violated human rights, persecuted the critics of the government, imposed martial law in Mindanao, threatened to bomb Lumad schools, reinstated and enabled the most sinister figures in our history, threatened to expel our militant students, and willfully manipulated our laws and legal institutions to impose its power against the will of the people. Let us demand this of those who keep saying that we should “move on”: Address first the question of social justice. There can never be forgiveness and reconciliation if the agents of the Marcos dictatorship continue to deny their guilt and actively suppress the continuing legacy of the people’s resistance.
We must teach our students to join national democratic organizations to expose and resist the attempt of the Duterte administration to whitewash the crimes committed by the Marcoses in the name of patronage politics. Let us join all our patriotic people and progressive organizations as we shout:
NO REVISIONS! NO ERASURES!
NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
NO TO THE RETURN OF THE MARCOSES TO POWER!
DOWN WITH STATE FASCISM!
JUSTICE TO ALL THE VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
END MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO NOW!