I participated in a gathering of survivors of armed conflict and human rights violations. Most of us were overcomers of Martial Law under the brutal Marcos dictatorial regime. We came out determined to integrate the emotions involved in a kind of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of overwhelming amount of stress. We are being healed from the past.
“Move on. You must have forgiveness in your heart,” said a fellow pastor from Baguio City who agreed to bury Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). He knew I was against the desecration of the Heroes’ Cemetery by putting the remains of a late dictator there.
I did forgive Marcos. I did move on. I continually practice forgiveness as part of my daily psycho-spiritual discipline while doing TaiChi exercise in the morning. The life that the Creator entrusted to me — including marriage, family, advocacy, and even business — indicates a being who is in the process of substantial healing.
There were many personal experiences and socio-political awakenings that prompted me to join my fellow students in protesting against the Marcos Martial Law in 1973. I was a high school teenager then. We were desperately searching for truth, justice, and freedom.
I will never forget the atrocities I and my contemporaries experienced during those dark years of Marcos Martial Law. I personally experienced the police and military brutality — memorialized by a number of scars in my body and the unexplained fright-fight-flight reaction from certain stimulating factors around me — just because we were articulate against the abuses of the government against its people. I visited and cried with colleagues who became handicapped for life as a direct result of physical and psychological torture. I listened to, and cried with, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers whose family members were abducted by the military. I attended many funeral services, lamenting the murder of young people who gave their lives for what we believed was the path of struggle towards our people’s liberation. As Wikipedia puts it: “The martial law era under Marcos was marked by plunder, repression, torture, and atrocity. As many as 3,257 were murdered, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 illegally detained…”
Raissa Robles, one of the journalists I respect, described the Marcos dictatorial regime as “a grisly one-stop shop for human rights abuses, a system that swiftly turned citizens into victims by dispensing with inconvenient requirements such as constitutional protections, basic rights, due process and evidence.”
My family personally experienced the financial hardships under the disastrous economic policies of the Marcos Administration.
My present ministry and advocacy is a positive continuation of my solidarity with our people as we seek justice, struggle for freedom, and pursue peace in this beautiful, but still, conflicted land.
This gathering, this sharing of hearts and minds, this convergence of beings among overcomers — dubbed as Healing the Past: Peoples’ Solidarity for Justice and Dignity — was held in Quezon City last 20-21 February 2018.