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September 11 is a date that remains etched in Philippine memory.
And it's not just because it's the birthday of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, whose government was widely regarded as one of the most corrupt and most repressive in Philippine history. It is also the birthday of several important persons, the founding date of a leftist Filipino youth group, and, of course, the day 11 years ago when two passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.
1. Ferdinand Marcos would have been 95 years old today.
Later this month, on September 21, the Philippines will commemorate Marcos' declaration of Martial Law 40 years ago.
His admirers would pine for the "good old days" of massive infrastructure projects (San Juanico Bridge, Cultural Center of the Philippines, the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, etc.), economic reforms (dismantling the oligarchy, his brand of land reform, Green Revolution, etc.), and his brand of discipline (according to his New Society doctrine, Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan).
But his critics will forever tie his name to corruption, cronyism, plunder, and massive human rights abuses. Economic malaise and the militarization of Philippine politics are some of the charges against the Marcos regime.
Today, the government is thinking of auctioning off the jewelry that were confiscated by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) soon after Marcos and his wife Imelda fled the country in 1986. Marcos' son, Senator BongBong Marcos, says Mrs. Marcos wants her world-famous collections returned to her.
(Here, a slightly different take on Da Apo.)
2. Horacio "Boy" Morales Jr would have been 69 years old today.
Best remembered for jumping from government to the underground movement at the height of the dictatorship in 1977, Morales would later lead an army of young activists, in trying to institute and institutionalize reforms for a progressive countryside at the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement.
Morales died earlier this year, and many remember his numerous contributions to the society he has worked to change all his adult life.
3. Jovito Palparan Jr. is celebrating his 62nd birthday as a fugitive from justice.
Mere mention of the name of this retired Army general can inspire fear—and anger—among students, farmers, and environment defenders in Mindoro, Samar, and Central Luzon whose ranks have been targeted when he headed the anti-communist campaign of the Arroyo administration.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has praised Palparan for his “successful” offensives against communist rebels. A congressman representing the Bantay party-list group in the 14th Congress, he is currently the subject of a nationwide manhunt after being indicted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention of still missing UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
4. A key organization in the student movement that Martial Law spawned, the League of Filipino Students is now 35 years old.
Its chant of “Tunay, Palaban, Makabayan” reverbated the halls of many colleges and universities nationwide, as its ranks filled the streets in many rallies against the dictatorship.
Among its famous leaders were Nathaniel Santiago, secretary-general of Bayan, and Jeremy Regino, now with the National Food Authority. This Friday, Sept. 14, the LFS-UP Diliman chapter will hold a reunion at 7 p.m. at the UP PCED Hostel—not only to wax nostalgic but also to make plans on what its members can do to push with its avowed mission to “serve the people.”
5. The term 9/11 was really a creation of the game-changing terror attacks in the United States.
Turning around the idea of national security and freedom for Americans, and of air travel for everyone else, the attacks continue to haunt. Images of two planes slamming one after another against the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City continue to conjure horror and terror. After 11 years, this is how the Americans, still scarred by the attacks, are remembering them.