Jun Marwin Hangad

Orchestrated stories about martial law branded as the "golden era" of the country were a common misconception swiftly spreading like wildfire. Elders and those knowledgeable in history try their best to convey the correct narratives by divulging the horrendous reality of the country at that time. The aggressive intent of putting into perspective the notion that martial law brought immense progress is a mechanism to hide the atrocities committed by the late dictator Marcos Sr.

Cartoon by Maurice Gimena

Out of extreme hunger for power, Marcos Sr. utilized all the means to extend his reign, which lasted almost 20 years. Intensifying martial law to disarm the 1935 Constitution's two-term policy for the presidential seat was somewhat of a strategy in order for him to exercise and manipulate the country, which is the very reason why it changed the course of our progressive history forever.

During martial law, Filipinos critical of the regime were  subjected to the brute force of military forces in their day-to-day lives. According to Elizabeth Angsioco's article on her martial law experience, the military would directly arrest citizens without due process once they found out they were spreading propaganda against the Marcos government. This is a complete example of how Marcos Sr. stifles the essence of free speech, a violation of one of our basic rights.

Not only did they put horrors into the atmosphere, but they also focused on how the standard way of life transcended into a pedestal of suffering and troubling challenges spanning across regions.

Because of media closure and the rising fear of voicing out sentiments, Filipinos were kept in the dark and thus unable to address the ongoing transgressions concocted by the regime. Despite the fake representation of progress through scented infrastructure projects, martial law increased poverty on many levels. As per the martial law museum archives, 6 out of 10 Filipinos were considered poor by the end of the regime, and this context is far from what others imagine as a "golden age."

The rising case of poverty resulted from the skyrocketing inflation rate, which rose to 50.3% in 1984, as per statistics, the highest record in our economic history. Rappler reported that the massive spending and overprotective policy were the reasons why the country's reserves came to a loss, which prompted the regime to borrow such a huge amount from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While the government freely practices its borrowing strategy, it later compromises the Filipinos.

The IBON Foundation reported a drastic 12.6% unemployment rate, leading to approximately 27 million poverty incidences among Filipinos in 1985. All public institutions and even the private sector face a deplorable downturn, leading to wage deductions and bankruptcy among businesses. Extreme workforce losses even elevated the decline of industrialization and investment pledges; that's why Filipinos had difficulty finding jobs and other opportunities.

By just basing the walloping numbers alone, it is already evident that life during martial law was a life unwanted by most Filipinos. The experience of misery, conjoined with fears and overall distress, was a linear effect of authoritarian rule and cronyism.

It's disparaging to formalize the belief that others, or what we call only the minorities, have enjoyed martial law just to quickly point out that there was no suffering, not unless you don't agree with the given terms and conditions—shame!

The Negros famine was ultimately one of the most disturbing cases ever to exist during martial law because of multiple corruptions in the agriculture sector, especially in the sugar industry. Fred Hilado, a sugar planter, told Rappler they'd experienced an all-time loss of $1.15 billion until 1985 because of plunder by one of Marcos Sr.'s cronies.

Fr. Armand Onion, a young priest assigned to Bacolod, was one of the few to witness the mournful death of Joel Abong, one of the children who died of malnutrition in Negros. He despises the "golden age" notion as if it contributes to the lamentable case of malnutrition and extreme starvation, which not only exists in Negros but in all regions across the country.

Given the imminent military abuse of power, the fight to end oppression was met with bloodshed and human rights violations. There are 3,257 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, disappearances, and 70,000 incarcerations, according to Amnesty International. These numbers underscore the atrocities that disrupt the sound of life among citizens, leaving them to live in fear and outrage.

While the country is doomed, only the regime and its cronies experienced all the luxury of living a quality life, enjoying the debt-driven amounts that are intended for the public, liberating every moment that the Filipinos had been longing for for decades.

For Lee Kuan Yew, Marcos Sr. has done nothing but pervert the national landscape. Given how terrible the economy was during his time, where armed struggle and recession snapped, the dictator couldn't prove his might and was just driven to grab P174.2 billion in ill-gotten wealth.

To support the claim that there was really no golden age, an article from the Inquirer reported that the social weather of the country at that time declared multiple 'bad' portions after scholars from the University of the Philippines conducted a national survey, where the indicators focused on graft and corruption, crime rates, and inflation.

As a new Marcos is back in power, history should be kept alive and safeguarded from any motions for revision. Perhaps the new government is attempting to rewrite the version of martial law within history textbooks to include the notorious "golden era" narrative. But no matter how they try to change it, the markings of history will never let them succeed.

Martial law will remain unforgettable as one of the darkest chapters of our history, as preached by eye-witnesses, those who'd experienced its terror, and its long-term impact affecting our progress visible up to this day.

Both father and son marketed their leadership genres. Overall, they're visualizing everything as being in a backward state of progress. Of course, we will never forget the dark history of martial law and, at the same time, Marcos Jr.'s petty incompetence at the moment. Both Marcos make no difference, as their rule is a golden era 'to suffer.'