Friday, June 14, 2024

What’s in a name?

the Weekly Sillimanian | September 21, 2023

When the Department of Education (DepEd) confirmed the issuance of a memo directing the change of “diktadurang Marcos” to just “diktadura” in the revised Araling Panlipunan curriculum, political groups, figures, and social media users alike erupted in outrage.

To the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), reducing his terrible regime to a mere “diktadura” is a disservice to the victims of his tyranny and an insult to historical accuracy and truth.

More than that, the sudden term change was not backed by data, according to the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), as compared to an abundance of historical evidence that supports the classification of the years 1972 to 1986 as Marcos’ dictatorship.

But for Jocelyn Andaya, DepEd Bureau of Curriculum Director, the proposal is merely an alignment to the new Matatag curriculum guide that shifts the focus to events and themes rather than “prominent political figures.”

Considering the curriculum still tackles Marcos, his ill-gotten wealth, and attacks on democratic institutions, is a term change really as big a deal as so many are making it out to be?

And if the proposal is indeed implemented come 2026, should Silliman University adhere to it—especially since it can opt out of the change because of its academic autonomy attained through accreditation?

We believe that the answer should be a resounding no. Thus, we urge the Silliman University administration through the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs to resist such a change and stand on the side of truth—complete and untainted—if such an attempt to distort history comes to fruition.

Separating the horrors inflicted in those nine dark years in our history from its main perpetrator is not only an abhorrent move, but one exacerbated by our current political climate. With another Marcos in power—as well as steadily growing waves of criticism being thrown against him—what message is sent when there are attempts to divorce his family name from one of the darkest moments in our history? Who is intimidated? Who is tricked? Who lets it slide in the name of normalcy?

And that is how a total rewrite of our history starts—with basic truths being taken for granted. 

While, truly, instances of tyranny and oppression are made up of more factors than just one person, the act of moving away from the very “personality” who was the driving force behind it all just as his son takes the highest seat in the land is either an inadvertent message of intimidation at best or a genuine attempt at historical revisionism at worst.  

In other words, when the same name downplayed as a mere “personality” was once used to legitimize murder and tyranny, then we must admit that there are forces at play—powerful ones—that wish to capitalize on the double standard.

Silliman University, as an institution that prides itself in social consciousness and considering its history with Marcos’ martial law, should know better than anyone that his name is not just a label. 

It is a reminder of all that we have lost and strive to never lose again.

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