GemmaCruzAraneta 300x300 - Beginning of the end
Gemma Cruz Araneta

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From Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, my mother: “I asked (Imelda) whether she and the President watched Ninoy’s funeral on TV, and she said, yes, they’d done so, together, in his bedroom. And that they’d been crushed, struck dumb by the enormity of what they were seeing on the video screen. She added that they had felt overwhelmingly humiliated because they had little inkling of the public mood, and that Marcos had said, ‘So, after all these years, all our efforts, our trying and striving, it has come to this?’

“I was aghast. Had their isolation misled them so completely that they never even suspected people hated them with such unnerving passion? They simply could not plumb the depths of the people’s rage, could not accept the evidence of their wrath. How was it, I asked myself, that they did not know?

“I am sure EDSA began the day Ninoy was killed. The Marcos empire crumbled, not in February, 1986, when, disfigured and bedraggled, he fled in that American helicopter out of Malacañang. It happened almost three years earlier when Ninoy Aquino fell dead on the tarmac… Ninoy did not die that day on that sunny Sunday afternoon in August, 1983, at the Manila International Airport, for that was when he began to live forever in the hearts of his countrymen. It was Ferdinand Marcos who died that day, and he knew it….”

Reading about it again 37 years later, on Pages 216-217 of the second volume of Legends and Adventures, my mother’s autobiography, I wonder if those lessons will not be lost on all would-be dictators, totalitarian wannabes, and aspiring constitutional monarchs the world over, including the Philippines, and now the United States of America.

I sent my mother’s reminiscences to Lupita Aquino Kashihawara, Ninoy’s sister; she lives in the USA now. We went to the same school (Maryknoll, now Miriam). She replied: “I have great affection for your Mom. I think you know that. I knew she was with Imelda, like JV (journalist and ambassador Jose. V. Cruz), yet she made me feel part of their “barkada.” Stories like these make my heart sing as they further confirm that Ninoy did not die in vain. Thank you for this wonderful memory. It’s like a footnote for me, but can be a chapter for anyone writing a memoir. I have been on a reading binge: John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened, Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough, Michael Cohen’s Disloyal, Stephanie Winston Wolkof’s Melania and Me. I just finished reading Bob Woodward’s Rage. His writing style is incredible, like one is in the same room, or in a phone party. How anybody can be a Trumpy is beyond me.”

Those of us who lived through the denouncements of a dictatorship are wondering why the Americans do not seem to realize what is befalling them. From this distance, we can hear an enormous wrecking ball ramming at their time-honored institutions, determined to dig up the very foundations of their country and government.

I shared my mother’s words with chat groups I have with cousins from all sides of the family, former classmates who all know Lupita and are also survivors of martial law, and with fellow activists like the MAKIBAKA. Despite being senior citizens, most of them bravely trooped to the “Bantayog ng mga Bayani” to honor those who were made to disappear, were tortured, and murdered during the martial law years.

I am furious because a couple of days after I posted my mother’s piece on Facebook, it was deleted, evidence beyond doubt that a gruesome assembly of trolls are busy cleaning up the narrative of Marcos’ martial law.

(ggc1898@gmail.com) gemmacruzaraneta.com

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