In George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984, there’s this concept of a memory hole. Basically, it’s a garbage hole, where every household is required to throw any historical records like newspapers, photographs, etc. In the novel, memory hole is part of the government’s way of employing doublethink, or the process of altering reality by manipulating the way people think.
Stick with me for a second. I guess what I’m getting at, is that this whole “moving on” business, where Imee Marcos basically told us to get over her dad’s dictatorship because it’s all in the past, sounds an awful lot like memory hole to me; it’s historical revisionism. By asking us to “move on” from the faults of her father’s reign, doublethink is at play. Imee isn’t the only one guilty of this. I’m sure many politicians would love for us to have memory holes. If they had it their way, we’d have one in every household too, where every piece of incriminating document against them can be destroyed. (Come to think of it, this sort of happened in the Marcos era.)
To be fair, I don’t think our culture of forgetting can be blamed entirely on politicians. We, too, are at fault. After all, we don’t really have a memory hole (not yet, at least). Which means, whatever we choose to forget is on us. Here’s the thing: we’ve talked about how resilience shouldn’t be romanticized. Similarly, moving on has a positive connotation and can be easily equated to resilience. When we move on from a heartbreak, we’re all stronger for it. But this is different. Moving on implies that it’s done; we can’t do anything about it, so best to just move on with our lives and forget—and that, right there, is I believe where our problem lies. We move on too easily, too fast. Filipinos are very marupok. A few gimmicks here, some mighty declaration about things we want to hear (like how things will finally change)—and just like that, we once again catch ourselves falling for politician’s sick, wily charms.
Remember Gloria Macapagal Arroyo? Her presidency was racked with controversy, and she’s been charged with plunder and corruption. But apparently it’s not that big a deal, seeing as she’s now seated as our house speaker.
Remember Kian De Los Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman? Let me refresh your memories. Kian was a grade 11 student when he was murdered. A witness heard him screaming “Tama na po! Tama na po! May test pa po ako bukas!” before getting shot. Carl was a 19-year-old UP student. He was on his knees or lying down, with his hands tied when cops shot him. Kulot was a 14-year-old boy whose body was found floating in a creek, with 30 stab wounds, his head wrapped in a plastic bag and packing tape. They remain among the thousands of casualties caught in the drug war who still haven’t gotten justice. (Interestingly, a waiver has been found circulating in Caloocan, where families of EJK victims were asked to sign a document that says: “We no longer want to remember what happened to our relative. Instead, we want to recall the time we spent with [him] when [he] was still alive and we are leaving everything all up to God.”)
And what about the Maguindanao massacre, where media members and other civilians, including pregnant women, were buried alive? The Hacienda Luisita massacre, where farmers were brutally slain?
Over time, these instances seem to become just another chapter in the recesses of our country’s history, tucked deeply or skirted around through sheer apathy, laziness, or maybe because it’s too uncomfortable a topic. It’s true, when we catch wind of the incident, we’re quick to respond. The problem is, the fervor dies out too quickly. Soon, it’s possible these tragedies become more of a myth than reality.
Imee acts like it’s that easy to sweep hundreds of affected lives under the rug. And maybe it’s because for the longest time, we’ve made it seem like it. I’m not saying we can’t ever move on. I mean, who wants to carry that kind of weight on their shoulders forever? We just need her to give us something so that it can become a possibility. The fact is, people move on and maybe even forget by first learning to forgive. So how can we, when not a single member of their family has even apologized yet? When they too, choose to go forward and accept the mistakes of the past, then I believe, moving on remains out of the question.
Art by Marian Hukom
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