Is today a holiday?

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Should today be a holiday? It is September 21 and a day that should never be forgotten in Philippine history, just as we should never forget July 4, 1946, the day we gained independence from the United States. That was a day of great rejoicing for Filipinos, because, after several of being under the rule of Spain, then being under the United States, the latter kept its word and freed us from its control. But, Oh what a difference it made in our lives! Do you know that until now there are still Filipinos who wish that the U.S. had never left us to our own devices?

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Well, for those who may have forgotten. September 21was the day the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, declared Martial Law and relegated us again to the way we used to be under foreign rule. Maybe even worse, because so many of our rights were taken from us, and we had to suffer under what was then – in secret, of course – known as the “Conjugal Dictatorship” run by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. And today marks the 48th year since that happened! How we survived them, and shook off the Marcos control, is another event that stands out in our history!

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The younger generation may not know much about that, but to us who were old enough, that was one triumphal moment and a great source of pride among our people when we finally shook off the chains Martial Law bound us with. And the way we did it, earned for our country and people great respect from other countries, because our revolt was not a bloody one, it was a mere show of People Power, that scared off tyranny and sent the tyrant fleeing for refuge in Hawaii, never to return, except for his remains, now, ironically, interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani!

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We who knew, and lived under that administration know that, because of that, our people will never again tolerate that kind of leadership. Undoubtedly, Ferdinand Marcos was a brilliant man, but his talents were focused more on absolute rule. And after he declared Martial Law and the Filipino people found it intolerable, they resorted to the very peaceful but very effective means of driving him away. It was almost unbelievable that we did it, without bloodshed, but by sending an unmistakeable message that we were no longer willing to tolerate a dictatorship.

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When my sister Perla and I went to Hawaii, we insisted on seeing the site where Ferdinand Marcos was buried. It was a simple grave, slightly elevated from the others, but surely not one his first lady would have designed herself. And when, two years ago, I went to attend the burial of my cousin, Col. Orlando Ramos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, I asked to see the place where the remains had been interred after being brought back from Hawaii. Well, it was certainly more ostentatious than all those marked only with white Crosses, but at least, I am sure he had not ordered that himself.

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I guess I got to thinking of that because All Saints and All Souls Days are nearing and there is a fuss about the prohibitions on flocking to the cemeteries and memorial parks because of the ongoing pandemic. But since the prohibited days are the actual feast days declared by the Church, which are November 1 and 2, people can still observe the tradition of visiting their love ones’ graves by coming at any time other than the prohibited days. I am sure the souls will not resent that. No matter what day we choose, it is the remembering and the prayers that count, not so much the day and time.

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Now the ABS-CBN can thumb its nose at the National Telecommunications Commission that had ordered a stop to its operations by withholding its franchise, or some such reason. As of yesterday, the news media kept repeating the announcement that ABS-CBN had been granted the International award for its coverage of the COVID pandemic. This must feel like a vindication for the network, but will the National Telecommunication Commission relent, and grant that franchise? What about President Duterte? Me, I haven’t read or heard any comment from the palace ever since that happened. Silence is consent?

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Oh, another country seems to be on the verge of adopting People Power, even in this time of pandemic. Thailand is reported to have started marching and protesting against their monarchy, and it seems as if even the existence of a pandemic does not deter them from trying to do what others have done to free themselves from what they consider oppressive rule. And that is something we should be proud of – think of other countries that have initiated their own People Power moves ever since our technique rid us of governance that was only a mockery of democracy. Good luck to the Thais, as I’m sure they also rooted for us when we staged our own!*

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