Pain beyond forgetting

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the September 20th, 2012

There was, last week, a revived discussion on the jewelry of Imelda Marcos. Sell them? Put them on exhibit? The debate comes up every year around the time of the anniversary of martial law. It distracts from the real sin of martial law, that throughout its 14 year span torture, disappearances, and summary executions became a part of life for thousands of our people, for both perpetrators and victims.

Sure unbridled corruption during the martial law years caused serious economic hardship to our people but, at the end of the day, to use that overused cliché, it involved only money. Loss of money and economic opportunity can be regained, the scars healed. We are a strong people who have not allowed economic setbacks to destroy our spirit. Martial law and several corrupt administrations after that may have slowed us down but look at where we are now. Proof that when it comes to material losses, we can move on and make up for them through hard work, intelligence, and, of course, a little bit of luck.

What we cannot move away from without any soul searching is the loss of our humanity. “Pain beyond forgetting”, as Interaksyon calls those years of dehumanization, must be dealt with squarely. I recommend that you visit the Interaksyon site and listen to the testimony of victims. Unfortunately it does not have any testimony from the perpetrators. Their side of the story is vital because we have to understand how and why the guardians of peace and security, the enforcers of law and order, idealistic graduates of the Philippine Military Academy and their superiors, turned into monsters who inflicted unimaginable acts of cruelty on their fellow human beings. We have to hear from them why and how they allowed themselves to become what they became. We have to know and, more importantly, they have to know because not knowing is a sure guarantee that it will happen again.

It’s been twenty six years since the rule of law was reestablished in this country and we still have not heard an explanation for what happened, never mind that no one was held accountable. That’s why after all these years since democracy and the rule of law was restored torture, disappearances, and summary executions still take place. Closure, I hate that word but it’s the only word I can think of, has not been reached. We all know how they reached it in South Africa. Through a truth commission where the perpetrators and their victims faced each other and came to an understanding of what they went through. The damage to the perpetrator is just as great if not more so than to the victim. The victim suffered indescribable physical and emotional horrors but the perpetrator lost his humanity and his soul. Can he ever regain it without admitting fault and expressing remorse?

In addition to understanding the dehumanization we went through, we need a museum that will serve as a reminder that man can turn into a monster with the stroke of a pen. The horrors of those years live on in the memories of both victims and perpetrators. Those horrors should die with them, never to see the light of day ever again.

9 Responses to 'Pain beyond forgetting'

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  1. john c. jacinto said,

    on September 21st, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I have always hoped the commies would win so that those remorseless, arrogant monsters—the Marcoses themselves being on top of them—who made life miserable for all of us during the Marcos dictatorship would be lined up against the wall and shot.

  2. isko said,

    on September 21st, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Uniffors, Imelda and her jewelry, which Bongbong claims to be really hers, is part of, if not a true symbol, of the real sin of martial law. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t know what you are talking about.

  3. isko said,

    on September 21st, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    John J. Jacinto, you are an idiot!

  4. manuelbuencamino said,

    on September 22nd, 2012 at 12:23 am


    Like I said, material losses can be redressed. Pera lang yun pwedeng kitain ulit, But the loss of one’s humanity and one’s soul, that’s another matter not as easily recovered, not something you can simple say let’s move on. If you don’t understand that then you don’t know what it is to be human and then to lose it.

  5. manuelbuencamino said,

    on September 22nd, 2012 at 12:26 am


    I had never hoped the commies would win because they would have simply replaced the inhumanity of military rule with their own inhumanity. You don’t regain your humanity by lining up monsters against a wall and shooting them. You don’t regain humanity by turning into a monster yourself.

  6. Isko said,

    on September 22nd, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Bakit, MB, sapat na bang nabayaran ang mga biktima ni Mcoy? Hindi pa, right? And as I said, itong alahas ni madam, simbolo ng kasakiman yan and should be displayed in a museum – great idea this museum bit. Ya, pagiskandalohan yan kung anong gagawin para mabulabog ang sambayanan. Hindi distraction yan. Paalala ng pnadarambong yan.

    And, what does losing pinoys psyche mean in practical terms? Also, why is it that despite these kinds of martial law anniversaries the Marcoses still get elected into office? Are we more stupid than strong, more strong than stupid or are we both, strong and stupid?

    Palagay ko kakaunti lang ang nakakaunawa ng humanity and soul na sinasabi mo diyan. Kaw at ilan pang tatlong beses kumain araw-araw. The rest don’t care.

  7. Isko said,

    on September 22nd, 2012 at 5:10 am

    OT, sort of:

    MB, I really hope you get a position of influence in government, if you hadn’t yet. It’s an eye opener, if you just let yourself go – the good, the bad and the ugly kind of thing.

    Yeah, I bet you’d make a great public servant, even an appointed one. It’s a great experience. Go for it!

  8. manuelbuencamino said,

    on September 23rd, 2012 at 4:32 pm


    Basahin mo ng maigi yun sinulat ko. Ang sinabi ko ay ang totoong kasamaan ng martial law ay yun dehumanization. Ang perang nawala ay pwedeng kitain. At pwedeng bawain kung mahuhuli mo yung nagnakaw. Eh paano yun torturer, isang taong naging monster, paano mo gagawin siyang tao ulit? Yun biktima dumaan ng hirap at binababoy ng parang hayop pero yun pagkatao niya ay hindi nawala. Hindi siya naging monster. Biktima nga siya ng monster. Kaya nga sumosuporta ako sa anumang programa na nagpapaalala sa lahat na ang tunay na isyu sa martial law ay yung dehumanization. Mas mabigat yun kaysa kurakot na ginagawa ng maraming katulad mo bilang main isyu. Hindi yun. Displaying Imelda’s jewels will not eliminate graft and corruption. Ang main issue ay dehumanization.

  9. john c. jacinto said,

    on September 25th, 2012 at 8:34 am


    Ang problema lang as mas masahol kang gunggong at istupido.