Sunday, May 26, 2024

Not just a holiday

the Weekly Sillimanian | October 18, 2023

To Sen. Imee Marcos, “one holiday” cannot revise history—primarily because history, as she sees it, is already “very clear.” 

Her statement responds to the claims that her brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., had purposefully removed the EDSA People Power Revolution anniversary as a public holiday to distort history and whitewash their family name.

The Office of the President further said that the move was because next year’s EDSA anniversary will fall on a Sunday and thus have little economic consequence for the country. Yet, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8—also a Sunday—was declared a special nonworking holiday. 

It all then boils down to the fact that EDSA—unlike the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and even Ninoy Aquino Day—does not have a law declaring it a holiday. To the credit of Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, a bill addressing this gap has already been filed.  

But Sen. Marcos’ sentiment remains one shared by many—perhaps even the lawmakers who will ultimately decide the fate of Lagman’s bill. So, if a single holiday cannot revise history, why would a scrap of paper declaring such a holiday have any impact? 

Beyond holidays, beyond legislation, beyond remembering—declaring the EDSA anniversary as a holiday is a binding promise. It is an acknowledgment of the unassailable value of such a momentous day in history, regardless of the political lines that divide how it is perceived. It is a message to Filipinos of today and of future generations that, regardless of who is in power, democracy will forever be defended, and tyranny will always be fought against.

We live in a time when these very commitments to our democracy—once implicit in the wake of horrors that had, decades ago, been freshly inflicted—have now been cast into doubt due to the passage of time, forgetfulness, and the concerted efforts of those who wish to exploit such social amnesia.

As a result, we now face symptoms of a past threatening to repeat itself. The lapses in our collective memory have allowed propaganda and misinformation to take root. The confusion instilled has granted the powerful the machinery to instigate fear in those who express dissent. The resulting silence has enabled the powerful to act without regard for public scrutiny and accountability. 

Then, just as it did 51 years ago, tyranny becomes a natural consequence.

There is no better time than now to make our commitments to defending our democracy explicit—and duty-bound for those in power. The Weekly Sillimanian sincerely hopes that Lagman’s bill is urgently and seriously considered—not only because we need Filipinos to remember but to promise to do whatever it takes to never ever forget.

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