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On the Marcos issue, media and the academe have failed us

One big reason why we still have to suffer this debate over Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is that the two institutions tasked by society to enlighten a nation — media and the academe — have totally abdicated their duties to do so.

As a result, we probably have more established facts concerning the 1898 Philippine Revolution than the 1972-1986 Martial Law era, which everybody — whether pro-or anti-Marcos — agrees has been a watershed in our nation’s history. What we have are partisan narratives, with the dominant one being that of the Aquino clan’s Yellow yarns.

An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday, which has been both a rabidly anti-Marcos and pro-Aquino newspaper, is a clear illustration of this problem.

The paper yesterday had a one-page, 2,500-word article entitled “What happened to the Marcos millions?” It was bylined Helen N. Mendoza, whom the newspaper described as a “PhD, a retired University of the Philippines professor who studied in the United States, Norway, Germany and England.” Initially, I was pleasantly surprised that an academic was finally doing research on the Marcos era, and the piece even had an impressive table on exactly what “Marcos billions” consisted of.

Upon closer reading, though, the entire piece verged on plagiarism, as everything on it was lifted from a 4,000-word story by Nick Davies in the May 7, 2016 edition of the London-based The Guardian.

The only input Mendoza had in “her” 2,200-word Inquirer article was the opening paragraph, in which she explained that she adopted the title of Davies’ article for her piece. “Here are some of his findings,” she said, and went on with cutting-and-pasting Davies’ words.

How local media copies foreign media. Above, from the UK’s The Guardian, May 7, 2016; below, PDI, Aug. 14, 2016.
How local media copies foreign media. Above, from the UK’s The Guardian, May 7, 2016; below, PDI, Aug. 14, 2016.

Everything in her piece was from Davies, and there weren’t even quotation marks at all in the entire piece to denote borrowed quotes lifted directly from The Guardian. There was no attempt at all on Mendoza’s part to comment on The Guardian piece, or to verify the British author’s assertions.

In many parts of her article the author was even too lazy to rephrase Davies’ words. One example, a description of Malacañang after Marcos fled:

The Guardian’s Davies: There, they could see the signs of hasty flight: food still warm on the dining table, empty boxes, papers scattered on the floor, shredding machines stuffed with more paper.

Inquirer’s Mendoza: There were signs of hasty departure: food still warm on the table, empty boxes and papers scattered about, shredding machine stuffed with paper.

Mendoza’s near-plagiarism encapsulates what has been terribly wrong in the media’s narrative of the Marcos era. Most of these accounts — especially the books on Martial Law — were written mostly by American authors, who were clearly following the US State Department’s propaganda line, formulated really as a campaign spiel to portray Marcos as the Devil Incarnate in the 1986 snap elections in order to counter the strongman’s pitch that Cory was just a housewife and would be disastrous for the country. Not a few were written by paperback writers wanting to cash in on the sudden American interest in the Philippines after Marcos’ fall, and Imelda’s “thousands of shoes.” Local media simply imbibed, even copied, such biased narratives, with hardly a critical, analytical stance.

One example of this was American historian Alfred McCoy’s repeated claims that the human rights abuses during the Marcos regime were worse than those in the infamous Latin American dictatorships, since, as he wrote, “Marcos’ tally of 3,257 killed exceeds those under the Brazilian and Chilean dictatorships.” That number, 3,257, has become the most often used figure to allege the ruthlessness of the Marcos rule. Even a columnist in this paper, a PhD, wrote a piece on that figure, entitled “3,257: Fact-checking the Marcos killings, 1975-1985,” and dramatically concluded: “3,257 is a number that chills the blood.”

I checked the figures myself and found McCoy to have cited highly suspect figures as these were churned out by what had been a front of the Communist Party. McCoy also double-counted figures, by adding those reported by another — more biased — source. But worse actually is Kessler coming up with his figures, in order to show that human rights violations during the Aquino era was really “at least as bad as it had been under Marcos.”

Editors of all broadsheets were also journalists who lost their jobs and high social prestige when Marcos closed down the press in 1972 — and naturally would hate the dictator. That quote from the famous philosopher of history, E.H. Carr, is applicable in the case of Philippine journalists: “Study the historian before you begin to study the fact.”

Journalists, however, may be forgiven, as they have deadlines, they don’t have the luxury of time to do research, and they don’t have a choice but to quote people who make claims, even if these are biased partisans.

The people who should be lynched are our academicians whose professions could have given us a solid, objective assessment of Marcos and his Martial Law era. A case in point is the Ateneo de Manila University, which has been at the propaganda vanguard of condemning that era as the Dark Ages, that the strongman’s son Bongbong shouldn’t be allowed to become the vice president and his father’s corpse shouldn’t be buried at the Libingan.

Nothing after three decades
But has its department of history done any research so that they could claim their virulent stand against Marcos was based on a scholarly study?

Nothing. Zero. In the three decades since Marcos fell, the Ateneo has not produced a single piece of scholarship that would contribute to our balanced assessment of the Martial Law era, which its president during those years, Fr. Joe Cruz, enthusiastically supported. Yet, they have been sending the message that since they are academics, they have studied objectively the Marcos era. (Ironically, the only book that has come out of the academe, from the University of the Philippines , on the Martial Law era has been economist Gerardo Sicat’s paean for the strongman’s economic czar, Cesar Virata.)

The only book on the Martial Law era coming out of UP: Sicat’s paean to Marcos’ economic czar, Cesar Virata.
The only book on the Martial Law era coming out of UP: Sicat’s paean to Marcos’ economic czar, Cesar Virata.

The research of its 34-member faculty consists of such things as “manga comics during the Japanese occupation,” “Jesuit linguistic battles from 1898-1932, “Spirit beliefs among 18th century Aeta and Ilongots,” “American schoolbooks in Philippine classrooms,” “Kempetai in the Philippines,” and “Engkuwentro: Kayaw contra digmaang-galrea, 1565-1571” (whatever that is).

Do these historians think that it is below them to do research on the Plaza Miranda bombing, the fiction of the Jabidah massacre, the coconut industry’s role in the Muslim rebellion, the Communist Party of the Philippines’ support from China, or the role of the global debt crisis on Marcos’ fall?

What Aguinaldo ate for breakfast, how much Mabini loved carabao milk, what Rizal’s physical dimensions were — the kind of historical research the Ateneo seems to prefer — certainly make for fascinating read over morning coffee. These are, however, irrelevant to our understanding of our nation, These are as useful in understanding, say, the past Aquino 3rd administration, by finding out what his cigarette brand or favorite X-box game were. This kind of “history” writing is the equivalent of columns in a newspapers’ entertainment section.

Carr had pointed out in his “What is History,” a textbook I read in my history class at the Ateneo: “The function of the historian is neither to love the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present.”

Not only our historians at the Ateneo, but those at UP and La Salle should re-read Carr. The dearth of our historical understanding of the post-war years, especially of the Marcos era, explains a lot of why we are lost in the community of nations unable to find our national soul. Indeed, the sickness of our nation runs through every institution in the country.

Our academic community’s failure explains why many can’t see how preposterous it is to refuse the burial in the armed forces’ national cemetery of the remains of somebody who served as President, an Army major, and a Bataan Death March victim — facts of history even anti-Marcos scholars do not question.

Aquino’s bitch given military honors
How short our memories are! The following news account encapsulates how ridiculous the brouhaha over Marcos burial at the Libingan is.



This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. Julia Carreon-Lagoc

    Mr. Tiglao, will you please read, that is if you haven’t yet, the lucidly-written book of Raissa Robles’ Marcos Martial Law Never Again. I would like very much to read your review of this well-researched, well-documented book on the evils of Martial Law. Let us see how well-balanced a writer you can be. Launched last April 2016 at UP Diliman, the book narrates—in no uncertain terms—the egregious evils of the Marcos Martial Law era.

    Raissa Robles graduated from UP Diliman with a BA in English, magna cum laude, and “later took a course at the International Institut fur Journalismus in Berlin”

  2. Toto Manago

    Indeed. Like what Mr. David Irving used to say, most historians are plagiarists and just copy each other’s work. But for Mr. Irving, he did research most especially about Nazi Germany and the records from both the British, US, Russian and German archives do not support the conventional narrative This has led him to being jailed and sued. Maybe the truth will remain buried – but its not too late. As for our Martial Law, no book of substance has been made of it. A sad state that will make generations ignorant of the facts.

  3. Dinia Santos

    Wow!!! I don’t know what to say after reading this very objective, well researched, and well written article. I have always been following your articles, sir Tiglao, because I learn a lot and it makes ne look at a different perspective. You have never failed me. And this one, I think, tops them all. You are a brilliant writer with an outstanding flair for writing. Thank you so much for this article. I am looking forward to reading more articles from you.

  4. Fred Gibson

    The brilliance and luster of EDSA People Power Revolution are fueled by its reference to and dependence on Marcos and Martial Law. With Martial Law already past history and Marcos’ impending burial at LNMB have assuaged those luster and brilliance to a glimmer.

    In the same manner is Daang Matuwid which stood brightest in comparison against the notoriety of the Arroyo Administration. With Arroyo’s acquittal, Daang Matuwid was reduced to hollow propaganda.

    The rekindling of denigration and vilification of Marcos and Martial Law is an attempt by Marcos critics at re-living the glory of “auld lang syne” (the good all days) that now threatened by Marcos burial.

  5. arnel amador

    bakit ayaw magresearch ang mga atenista tungkol kay marcos at martial law era nito…takot sila malaman ang katotohanan. the real truth will hit them bigtime!

    kudos ambassador, sir!

  6. Ray

    Tama lang ilibing yong aso sa LNB dahil mas bayani yon kaysa kay Noynoy Aquino.

  7. jo

    I am very amazed with this writer. Very brilliant and resourceful. The anti-Marcos was definitely crashed in this opinion column. What, a PHD grad in the US by copying and pasting stories of someone else’s, what a shame!

  8. Rene Saguisag

    kung wala si Ferdinand Marcos ay hindi kilala ang mga Aquino. Dapat magpasalamat pa sila kay Marcos.
    Kudos Mr. Tiglao for the commentary.

  9. ren fuentes

    sa dami na ng naisulat ng mga maka dilaw laban kay marcos eh marami pa ring makadilaw na nagsasabing kulang ang mga libro at reading materials sa martila law kaya ang mga tinatawag na millinials ay suportado ang kandidatura ni makoy jr. ang ayaw nilang aminin ay mas maraming nagawa si makoy sr para sa bayan kesa sa mag inang dilaw. minalas lang si makoy sr. at nagkaroon ng financial crisis nung 1980s

  10. edgar

    the confused tiglao said enquirer is against marcos and Pnoy’s newspaper.

    well, manila times is for marcos and the corrupt politicans.

    tatad is a runner boy of marcos. hehehe.. how much money he gor from the LOOT>

    you guys are a big joke.. shame

  11. Michelle Caparas

    That was a balance opinion.

  12. Ka Ernie

    Bakit pinayagan ilibing yon aso ni CORY sa Libigan ng Mga Bayani? Dapat kasuhan yan si Cory, isipin aso ilibing sa Libingan ng mga Bayani? Puro kalokohan ang pinagagawa ng Aquino. Tama Mr. Tiglao puro kasamaan ang sinusulat nila tungkol kay Marcos. Bakit iyon mga kasammaan na ginawa ni Ninoy, Cory at Abnoy di nila binabalita. Palibhasa ang dddiyaryo kontrolado ng Yellow Cult kaya bias ang karamihan kanilang sinusulat. Wala bang magagawa ang samahan ng mga Journalist para matigil itong mga ginagawa ng mga yellow cult.

    1. Rebecca Callo

      Research more , sa LNMB na nakalibing?

  13. Nenita L.

    Thank you again Mr. Tiglao. You are one of the very few columnists that I follow. In my opinion, the reason why people is not convince of the Yellow’s argument about Marcos, is because wala silang makitang pagbabago sa gobyerno. Mas lumala pa ang nangyari. Hindi naman ganyan kalaganap ang droga sa panahon ni Marcos. Ngayon sa International Airport, may mga tanim bala. Ang terror group sa Mindanao, mas dumami. May Abu Sayaff, MNLF MILF, BIFF hindi ganyan noon. Sinong matinong tao ang maniniwala sa kanila?

  14. Leslie

    Another excellent article Mr. Tiglao. If these so called professors will write about the Marcos regime, they should also write an unbiased research about these 2 Aquino presidents to enlighten us. Just to be fair to us.

  15. JustConcern

    This is one of the reasons why I am not into some of the so called academecians in the Philippines. Some of them created their manifesto on their own. Until you are not a Phd or with a equivallent degree you do not have the rights to question their work or write-ups. As if they did their own research where in fact most of their ideas are coming from various historians. Good that it was pointed here that we have to study first the historians before we have to study the fact.

    Some of the academicians in our country are so biased. They were driven by their hatred. They are using the profession to spread malicious information. They use their talent in writing to fool us. They want us to believe that their judgements are rational. And more so, they want their beliefs to be the standard beliefs of the country.

    Hope that this kind of articles will continue to educate us.

  16. Migs Doromal

    Of course, the Americans have more information on our past and recent history than we do.

    Ferdinand E. Marcos had his good and bad legacies. But, those who ousted him hoodwinked the naive Filipino masses. Case in point – Hacienda Luisita, the so called centerpiece of the agrarian reform program of that b i t c h Corazon Aquino.

    Those who came after Marcos are NO BETTER than the late strongman. Cory, FVR, ERAP, GMA, BSA3. If we do the math and consider all statistical date including media killings, crime and corruption, etc., those that came after Marcos did more harm than good to the country. LRT1 was built by Marcos in just 5 years – from project feasibility study to operational status. It is the ‘living’ testament of a once brilliant man who had great visions for his country and its people. Our highway in Davao (name eludes me) built during Marcos time still is in good condition after more than 30 years.

    The late strongman deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. No disrespect to the radical friends of my brother in Davao who died in the 80s fighting what they thought was a cause to die for.

    Mabuhay si Duterte! Tapang at Malasakit!

  17. John

    Iyon namang mga catholic schools na nagpoprotesta laban sa pagpapapapalibing kay Marcos, mahiya kayo, nasaan ang ipinangangaral ng mga pare na “forgiveness?

  18. ernie purisima

    Tigmak ang mga “DILAW” kay Tiglao!

  19. Neng

    Fair & Square. Bravo Mr. Tiglao!

  20. teles BAttad

    sorry for my comment that the k-9 dog was buried at the libingan ng mga bayani. I shoud have stated at the park on malacananng grounds . But still , given the full military honors to a dog is not favorable for me.

  21. Rafael Santos

    Tama! Yun ngang libro ni Don Congdon na “Combat: Pacific Theater, WW2” (published 1959) ay biglang nawala sa mga book store nang iniluklok bilang presidente si Cory. Sinasabi sa librong ito na si FEM ay kabilang sa mga sundalong nakipaglaban sa mga Hapon noon WW2. Nabasa ko ito sa hiniram kong nasabing aklat mula sa aking kapatid noon pang mga taong 1975.

  22. teles BAttad

    sa mga ralyista na gumagawa ng kaguluhan at sa mga nababayaran, di nyo ba alam na si cory ang nagpalibing ng K-9 dog na aso sa libingan ng nga bayani. imagine a dog that was burried in that place… bakit ang isang naging president na si marcos na maraming nagawa sa pag unlad ng bayan e ayaw ipalibing doon sa Libingan ng mga Bayani.? sa aking pananaw ay ayaw nila nang katahimikan.at ang gusto ay kaguluhan .. yan ang mga communista. kaya kayong rally dito at rally doon na mag anti marcos mag isip kayo.

    1. roadie

      imagine a dog? okay. imagine a dog who’d believe every single piece of propaganda crap? i believe we’d imagine you, teles battad.

      fyi, cory’s dog was never buried in LNMB. cory’s dog, a bomb sniffing dog of the psg, was buried in the park in malacanang.

  23. Butch

    Rally ng mga dilawin kahapon, 1,500 ang na hakot, ang Dami no? 16 million plus ang bumoto kay Duterte kaya meme na kayo. Huntiveros, De Lima, Pwet llamanzares, Drillon, queen lugaw Rob bredo campion ng PCOS DAYA. MAHIYA NAMAN KAYO!!!

  24. Rudi Miranda

    Daghang Salamat Bobbi! Excellent scholar sleuth, and a practical realist. Thank you for the chance to have one like Bobbi Tiglao, who is not scared of the light!

  25. junie

    Outstanding commentary. Thank you idol for this article.

  26. fidel S. Pescador

    kudos Mr. Tiglao

  27. Agapito Bagumbayan


  28. Alejo Rosete

    Thank you for your AMBASSADOR TIGLAO .

  29. Abby Malmström

    1965 una naging Presidente si Marcos. Barely three years pa lang si Marcos sa office in 1968, wala pang Martial Law, inorganisa na ni Sen Ninoy Aquino ang Moro Secession (MNLF-MIM ni Nur Misuari) and Communist Insurgency (CPP-NPA ni Joma Sison) in collaboration with Malaysia para guluhin ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas. Pinondohan ng Malaysia ang panggugulo ni Ninoy, binigyan ng armas, training, at propaganda machinery ang mga rebelde.

    Simula 1968, apat na taon ang sakit ng ulo sa pagdedebate ang Congress ng gobyerno kung ano ang dapat na government action against the insurgency. So in 1972 the Congress recommended that the President will declare Martial Law — kaya 1972 ang Martial Law. At first blow of the Martial Law in 1972, Ninoy Aquino was immediately arrested by the government in the same year (1972), si Joma Sison in 1974, pero si Misuari ay tumakas na sa ibang bansa 1972 pa lang.

    In Nov 25, 1977 after five years of trial, Ninoy Aquino was finally convicted of TREASON for the crime of collaborating with Malaysia in organizing the Moro Secession (since March 1968) and Communist Insurgency (since March 1968).

    So you see, ang Martial Law start ay 1972, at si Ninoy ay nakulong na agad in 1972 pa lang for crimes committed in 1968-1972. Ninoy’s insurgency was before the Martial Law. Kung hindi nanggulo si Ninoy, hindi nagkaroon ng Martial Law. Si Ninoy ang cause ng Martial Law.

    The Martial Law was a legitimate government decision recommended by the Filipino people and for the Filipino people in 1972. Pero ang struggle ni Ninoy, all for MALAYSIA, to make Philippines weak and incapacitated in recovering SABAH. Yang pag brand ng Martial Law as “dictatorship”, propaganda ng Aquino-Malaysia Triad.

    Sa mga nagsasabing dapat lang na may magawa si Marcos dahil 20 yrs syang naging presidente, kahit pagsasama-samahin nyo pa mga nagawa ng mga sumunod na presidente sa nakalipas na 30 taon, wala pa rin silang binatbat! Sentimo nga may mahalaga nung panahon ni Marcos eh. Eh ngayon?? Candy na nga lang, piso na.

    UTANG SA WORLD BANK? Nangutang si Marcos ng malaking halaga para sa malalaking projects. Hindi naman magpapautang ang World Bank ng malaking halaga kung hindi nila nakitang may kakayahan magbayad ang Pilipinas. Pero anong ginawa ni Cory?? Pinatigil nya lahat ng on-going projects ng mapatalsik si Marcos. Nanggagalaiti kayo dahil 2025 pa raw matatapos bayaran ang utang dun at sa tax kinukuha ang pambayad, di ba mas maganda tanungin kung saan nga ba napupunta ang tax naten at lalo lang yumayaman ang mga nakaupo sa pwesto?!

    Marami raw pinatay at tinorture nung Martial Law.. Bakit, si Marcos ba ang pumatay sa kanila??! Mga abusado ang gumawa nun at si Marcos ang sinisisi ng mga tao. Mas masahol pa nga ngayon eh, araw-araw may kaso ng pagpatay, nawawala at mga narerape at karamihan ay hindi mabigyan ng hustisya. Ni-hindi nga panatag ang loob mo maglakad sa gabi. at sa bandang Mindanao ay nagkakagulo sila.

    NAKAW NA YAMAN??!! Ang daming dalang witness ni Cory pero ang dala lang ni Imelda ay documents na nagpapatunay na mayaman na si Marcos bago pa man sya naging presidente. Hindi lang mayaman, kundi sobrang yaman dahil sa kanyang mga gold bars. Kaya hanggang ngayon na 2 aquino na ang naging presidente pero di pa rin nila mapatunayan nagnakaw ang mga Marcos. Dahil wala naman talagang ninakaw. Halos 170+ billion na nga ang kinuha nilang yaman ng mga Marcos. Saan nila dinala yun?? Sa bulsa nila??! Naiinggit lang sila sa yaman ng mga Marcos kaya pilit nilang inaangkin para sila ang makinabang. Ang mga pulitikong corrupt makalipas ang 30 taon, sila ang TOTOONG MAGNANAKAW hindi si Marcos. Dapat sa kanila bawiin ang pera ng bayan. Napakalaking halaga kung tutuusin kung susumahin lahat yun.

    Si Ninoy na sana ang susunod na presidente. Magkalaban sila sa pulitika pero brad sila sa fraternity. Si Ninoy lang ang nakikita ni Marcos na may kakayahan na maging sumunod na presidente pero namatay si Ninoy. Napunta ang simpatya ng mga tao kay Cory at naging presidente kahit na isa lamang syang ordinaryong house wife na walang kaalam-alam sa pagpapatakbo ng bansa na naging puppet na sunud-sunuran kila Ramos at Enrile na trinaydor si Marcos dahil pangarap din nilang maging presidente. Naging presidente si Ramos dahil dinaya nya si Miriam Defensor-Santiago. At doon magsimula maghirap ang Pilipinas mula ng naging presidente si Cory.

    Bakit gusto naming manalo si BBM at marami ang naniniwala sa kanya??? Dahil alam naming sya lang ang posibleng ipagpatuloy ang mga nasimulan at hindi natapos na plano ng kanyang ama. At kung ako ang tatanungin, gusto ko maibalik sa mga Marcos ang dangal na kinuha sa kanila. Dahil walang ibang ginawa si Pres. FEM kundi para sa ikauunlad ng bansa. Ano bang napala natin pagkatapos ng People’s Power? Wala. Nganga. At yun ang pinakatangang pagkakamali ng mga Pinoy.

    Bago kayo magsabi ng negative sa mga Marcos, magresearch muna kayo. Hindi yung puro kayo satsat. At wag nyo sabihing kame ang magbasa sa mga reliable sources o sa mga libro, dahil binago lahat ang laman ng mga libro nang mapatalsik si Marcos kaya puro negative ang nakasulat. At puro negative lang din ang pinapakita ng media. Wag kayo maging mangmang sa kasaysayan at wag magbulag-bulagan sa katotohanan. #BBMTHEREALVP2016 #FIGHT4BBM #MarcosPaRin #BeFullyInformed

    1. Fritzie

      Naman kung sinulat.lng sana at binabalita din nagawa ni Pres.Marcos.

    2. Rafael Santos

      Tama! Yun ngang libro ni Don Congdon na “Combat: Pacific Theater, WW2” (published 1959) ay biglang nawala sa mga book store nang iniluklok bilang presidente si Cory. Sinasabi sa librong ito na si FEM ay kabilang sa mga sundalong nakipaglaban sa mga Hapon noon WW2. Nabasa ko ito sa hiniram kong nasabing aklat mula sa aking kapatid noon pang mga taong 1975.

    3. elfieda g maddara

      maraming salamat. marami akong natutunan sa sinulat mo. di naman kasi, lahat ng totoo sinusulat sa diyario. sino kaya ang MAGSISIWALAT NG BUONG KATOTOHANAN tungkol sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa….kaya, ang daling utuin ng mga Pinoy pagdating ng eleksiyon. ngayon nga lang tumino …. kasi nagkaroon ng noynoying………..

    4. benj

      Very well said! Thanks for this analysis and hopefully read by many! Also to Amba Tiglao. You’re really one of a kind! Kudos!!!

    5. Lynn Bautista

      I have the same sentiments…you nailed it! You should publish your post in social media….good luck to our nation..may the people be enlighntened…

  30. Daniel Ali

    Thank you.
    Excellent critical analysis.

  31. field

    “Aquino’s bitch buried at Libingan.”

    You mean, the dog buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was the K-9 of the Presidential Security Guard of Pres. Cory Aquino? I didn’t realize that.

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