Who survives Bongbong Marcos' revision of history in the Philippines

34 delegates from six countries attended a demonstration against nuclear power on October 26 in front of the US Embassy

In Judy Taguiwalo's jail cell, where she was sitting and holding her young daughter, the cheers could be heard.

Millions of people marched on February 25, 1986, to demand the removal of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the Philippines' authoritarian president. Juan Ponce Enrile, his defense minister, defected and brought with him a sizable portion of the military. It changed the course of events and made way for the return of democracy.

But Ms. Taguiwalo claims her worst fears have come true 37 years later as Filipinos march through the streets to mark that anniversary. "Bongbong" Marcos, the son of Marcos Sr., has been elected president, and Mr. Enrile, who once supported the People's Power uprising, is now a significant adviser to the new president.

With the skillful use of social media, Marcos Jr. has reframed his father's rule as a golden age for infrastructure and peace, dismissing the family's history of corruption and human rights violations as unjust vilification.

The now 73-year-old Ms. Taguiwalo says, "I feel angry at the injustice of it all. "It really depresses me. " .

She and Mr. Enrile both survived the People Power uprising in the Philippines, but their accounts of the movement's legacy are very dissimilar.

Late in February of 1986, a series of protests started, leading to what is now regarded as a historic march on Manila's ESDA highway.

The 20-year dictatorship, which resulted in thousands of opposition leaders, students, activists, and dissidents going missing or being tortured, was what protesters wanted to put an end to. According to a government anti-graft body, Marcos Sr. and his flamboyant wife Imelda also stole billions of dollars from the country's coffers.

She was a political prisoner, Ms. Taguiwalo. She claims that after being forced to sit on an ice block until she became numb, her hands were squeezed while bullets were inserted between her fingers. Mother and child were only released from prison after Corazon Aquino was inaugurated as president and Marcos Sr. was banished to Hawaii.

The Marcoses have made a comeback decades later, and in May 2022, Marcos Jr. won the presidency with the largest margin in Philippine history.

The unfulfilled promise of a better life for Filipinos, according to Ms. Taguiwalo, is what led to their return. "Millions of people are still living in poverty while billionaires are getting richer," she says. The main cause is that disillusionment. ".

Judy Taguiwalo and Satur Ocampo attend a People Power anniversary march in 2018.
Judy Taguiwalo participating in the People Power anniversary march in 2018.

A prime example is Mr. Enrile's ability to remain in office.

He was kept on as the defense chief by Mrs. Aquino, giving him a lifetime of opportunities to win parliamentary elections. Despite being connected to failed uprisings against two presidents, including Mrs. Aquino, he remained in power until 2019.

Even now, decades after the People Power uprising, he continues to serve as Marcos Jr.'s top political advisor. He has also lived longer than almost all of the pivotal figures in the revolution.

However, according to University of the Philippines political science professor Jean Encinas-Franco, he is "not doing anything that's not typical in Philippine politics.".

She claims that Enrile's leadership position during the People Power uprising gave him an advantage. And in the nearly four decades that followed, that gave him a foundation from which to enlarge into different government positions.

This month, he turned 99. Marcos Jr. congratulated him on Facebook in Ilocano, the language that ties roughly 10 million Filipinos together politically and culturally. This demonstrates once more how deftly Enrile has ridden patronage and regional politics in the Philippines.

"Mr. Enrile has had a very easy time surviving all these years because Philippine politics is organized based on personal relationships rather than ideology," claims Ms. Franco.

He himself doesn't appear to be giving up.

In terms of years, 99 is a long period of time, but in terms of eternity, it is a fleeting moment. That is where we are all going; c'est la vie. On his birthday, he exclaimed, "It is a race that no one wants to win!

Mr. Enrile is the politician who was born before Mickey Mouse and sliced bread in the eyes of Filipino millennials and Generation Z, and they trade memes to that effect.

However, Mr. Enrile continues to serve as the martial law's administrator and Marcos Sr.'s potent right-hand man, which is bad news for those who were abducted, tortured, and raped by state forces during the Marcos years.

Juan Ponce Enrile presides over a hearing at the Philippine Senate, where he served as president.
Mr. Enrile has lived longer than many of the main figures in the revolution of 1986.

Enrile himself has refuted all claims that the government has violated human rights, claiming that Marcos Sr.'s administration "never adopted a policy of killing people with impunity.".

In 2019, during his unsuccessful senatorial campaign, he told the media, "I do not have any regrets, except perhaps if there were people who were hurt because of my judgment, my decisions when I was holding power.".

Activists say it will take more than just street protests to win the battle to ensure that young Filipinos never forget what happened under Marcos Sr. .

For the younger generation to post and share on Facebook and TikTok, Ms. Taguiwalo claims she and others have been gathering newspaper clippings from the "mosquito press" that was critical of Marcos Sr. at the time.

Ms. Franco is of the opinion that there is still time to engage the Marcoses in pop culture and social media, their preferred arenas of conflict.

"These are the ones that really stick when you look at the telenovelas, even the Korean dramas. The Marcoses are adept at wielding this power, she claims.

Ms. Taguiwalo, who will not be participating in the anniversary march on Saturday, says, "I've realized now that People Power is a marathon, not a sprint.".

But she has some hope. She claims that after Marcos Jr. won the election in May, she got text messages from young voters expressing regret over the outcome. She claimed to have told them that they now have to carry on the conflict.

"I don't move as quickly as I used to, but I know the struggle will never end.

. "

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