Forgetting the past is dangerous for nation, social scientist warns

Rowegie Abanto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2022 05:34 PM

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MANILA — Forgetting the past is dangerous for the country, an anthropologist said Wednesday as the country marks the 50th anniversary of the Martial Law declaration by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

Michael Tan, who is also former University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor, issued the warning amid the disregard by many for the horrors of Martial Law and its lessons, and their support for authoritarianism.

"We keep repeating the mistakes. We fall in love with authoritarian leaders, and you know who I'm referring to after Marcos," Tan said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

Tan said the Philippines is still recovering from what he called "national dementia" but it seems that Filipinos "want to forget."

"We think that's the solution—and that is not. That denial is going to—it is so dangerous for the nation," he added.

Tan said educators like him tried to "keep talking" about the dictatorship, although he admits they fell short.

He said most Filipinos, especially the youth who were not yet born during Martial Law, have few memories of it also because schools lack textbooks that discuss the events of the period, and even of other repressive eras prior to that.

"Many people are not aware for instance that Aguinaldo was a dictator. Kung di pa dahil kay Mabini, na nagpayo na hindi na puwedeng mag-constitution na diktador ka," Tan said.

(If it was not because of Mabini, who advised Aguinaldo that he should stop being a dictator.)

He said people do not realize that without democratic institutions and checks-and-balances, worse things could happen.

—TeleRadyo, September 21, 2022