SINGKWENTA

Sep 24, 2022

On the day of commemoration of Martial Law, I decided to be poetic and cryptic, posting on my social media an allusion to the sinister date, to keep my postings mysterious I said, because why should I state the obvious. After thinking of what to post for the most part of the day, I surmised that the cryptic post
would be best. I meditated and remembered all those who were taken during the years of terror from the hands of the dictator and offered silent prayers for the safe passage of their souls.

Amnesty International, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and similar human rights monitoring
entities, historians believe that the Marcos dictatorship was marked by 3,257 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 ‘disappeared’, and 70,000 incarcerations. I remembered all my friends
who look at these years of repression and injustice as the “golden years” and hope that they understand the suffering of others and acknowledge the sins of the generation that tolerated the injustices.

My own mother was a Marcos Loyalist who took to the streets during the EDSA Revolution, not to fight for freedom, but to scamper to the Palace, and join the vigil of supporters for the strongman and the Madame.
I grew up, thinking my mother was an actual friend of the Madame, as she would give us stories which made it appear that they were coffee drinking buddies, only to realize in my adulthood that my mother was rabid loyalist filled with her own delusions of grandeur for the couple whom she developed a kinship to.

I remembered the stifled voices of the free press who risked their lives to report on facts, the constant struggle to stay alive to tell the stories and the victory survival. Martial Law shut down 7 television stations, 16 national daily newspapers, 11 weekly magazines, 66 community newspapers, and 292 radio stations; as well as public utilities such as Meralco, PLDT, and the then-existing Philippine Airlines.

I remembered all these at the most part of the day and carefully thought of how I should honor all these persons on my social media. I sparsely post my musings but I resolved, this day, I will not. So on with my resolve to join the bandwagon of commemorations armed with my illusions of mystery and excitement, I posted in a black background the words “Singkwenta” [Fifty] alluding to the 50-year anniversary of the
September 21, 1972 declaration of the Military rule.

So I posted and felt a sense of accomplishment with all the remembering I did, all the honoring and prayers I offered, I felt that I had aptly responded to the call for the day. After a few minutes, I was horrified to see that people started greeting me “Happy Birthday,” misunderstanding my “Singkweta” post to mean that I turned 50! I was dumbfounded, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Did I look fifty? These were my friends, how could they think it was my birthday, against the black background I put.

Were they joking? I turned off the comments for the “Singkwenta” post and pondered, was context lacking?
After I calmed down, convincing myself I did not look like a 50-year-old, I accepted defeat for the day.
As a journalist, I failed to impart my message but as an afterthought, came to terms with the fact that was screaming at me in the face. Obviously, there was something wrong… they have forgotten.

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