Written by Vincent Carlo D. Cuzon

Words are powerful. And so, I will not call myself an activist. I do not qualify.

Words are powerful. Instead, I will call myself a Mindanaoan millennial – a millennial who is endowed with the freedom and liberty that our heroes have fought for. I have to be honest. I did not join the Black Friday protest, even if I’m just several meters away from Davao’s Freedom Park. My national democratic friends might despise me, yet again, for opting to stay within the confines of the university. But as a social democrat, I am as well called to defend the future of the next generation from the repercussions of historical revisionism.

Words are powerful.  As aforementioned, I am a Mindanaoan millennial and this article is not against the president I voted. This is against the initiative to allow Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani. Is he really a hero?

Words are powerful. That is why, in order to protect the words of the law, the Supreme Court ruled to allow the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. “Dura Lex, Sed Lex” as legal professionals say, or simply put, “the law may be harsh, but apply it because it is the law.” Laws are designed that way, not to specific and not too vague, so as to provide flexibility or perhaps grant loopholes for good storytellers and revisionists to circumvent around it.

Words are powerful. Such power is more magnified with the use of an influential word such as “hero.” As one of the thousands, perhaps millions, of patriotic millennials who were educated of the life of our foremost national hero, Jose Rizal, we take the word “hero” very seriously. According to the National Heroes Committee, created through Executive Order No. 75 in 1993, there are 10 standards for considering a person as a hero:

  • The extent of a person’s sacrifices for the welfare of the country
  • The motive and methods employed in the attainment of the ideal (was his ideal purely for the welfare of the country and without any taint of self-interested motives, most of all the method of attainment should be morally valid)
  • The moral character of the person concerned (the person should not have any immorality issue that affected his ideal)
  • The influence of the person concerned on his age and or the succeeding age
  • Heroes are those who have a concept of nation and thereafter aspire and struggle for the nation’s freedom (they must have desired the country’s freedom in any situation especially when there’s a threat of invasion in any form)
  • Heroes are those who define and contribute to a system of life of freedom and order for a nation (one who helps in the orderliness and betterment of the country)
  • Heroes are those who contribute to the quality of life and destiny of a nation
  • A hero is part of the people’s expression (the citizen must have recognized and acknowledged the person as a hero).
  • A hero thinks of the future, especially the future generations, his concern for the future generations must be seen in his decisions and ideals)
  • The choice of a hero involves not only the recounting of an episode or events in history, but of the entire process that made this particular person a hero

Words are powerful. The ten stringent standards are hard to meet. But let us go through just two of the standards in relation to Marcos. The second standard would consider both motive and method. Sure, granting that Former President Marcos had perhaps some good motives for the country during his era, but declaring Martial Law as a tool of oppression is not at all, by any means, a good method of achieving the motive. The eighth standard, which states that a hero is part of the people’s expression, does not apply to Marcos. Some supporters of Marcos’ burial argue that it is for “forgiveness” that we should allow the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in LNMB. NO. We can forgive in time but Ferdinand Marcos is not part of the people’s expression – maybe part of the expression for the Filipinos of the North – but not for the people he oppressed and the families he denied justice all over the country.

Words are powerful. “Libingan ng mga Bayani” (Heroes’ Cemetery) has partly lost its meaning when they allowed the burial and subsequent earmarking of a fake hero as a “Bayani.” As a Mindanaoan, I am proud that Sultan Kudarat is also buried in the sacred grounds of the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Juxtaposing Sultan Kudarat and other genuine heroes with Ferdinand Marcos is a blatant insult to the people who fought and who died in the name of Philippine democracy.

Words are powerful. As mentioned, “Dura Lex, Sed Lex” principle of the law might temporarily limit us from reverting the burial of Marcos in LNMB. But the bigger fight of historical revisionism goes on. You cannot call us paid activists. You cannot pay the spirit and nationalism of the patriotic Filipino youth. We stand by our principles. We will remain as the “pag-asa ng bayan (hope of the motherland)” for Asia’s oldest democracy.

Words are powerful. And so, Marcos is not a hero. He does not qualify.