Martial Law And The Vietnam War – Emotionally Close Cousins

It has been over 42 years since President Marcos declared Martial Law in the Philippines. I have also noticed that America and the Philippines both seem to share — in the same time line — some form of emotional scarring within their lives. I shall attempt to explain. as well as expose the harsh reality of how one nation has move forward. And another has not.

MarcosFrom 1972 until 1981, President Marcos had placed his nation under Martial Law. Primarily enacted to quell the rising threat of Communism and crime. Marcos allegedly ruled with an iron fist, and has been accused of an assortment of human rights violations.

Sadly, for the last 31 years, the people of the Philippines have been bombarded by politicians and the media with constant reminders of that time, as if it happened yesterday. And in a divisive manner, it has denied the nation — and much of its people — any chance of a decent healing process, and eventual move forward.

So how does this compare with America’s war in Vietnam?

America’s primary involvement in Vietnam occurred between 1965 and 1975. And on many levels, was one of America’s costliest wars. With the advent of television, the war was now in the living rooms of most American’s on a nightly basis. It also rapidly eroded the notion that war was something noble or gallant. And proved once and for all, that war itself was anything but glamorous.

vietnam war - With MortarBy 1968 the American public’s support for the war was in rapid decline. Students were demonstrating on nearly ever major university campus in the country. All around the country, protestors were taking to the streets almost daily. And by years end, President Lyndon Johnson had come to realize the war was now lost.

By 1975, and 3 presidents later, America had finally pulled out of Vietnam. And the war itself had left both Vietnam and the United States in tatters physically and emotionally.

Vietnam War - War MemorialBut unlike the Philippines, within a few years, Vietnam and America managed to pick themselves up to start rebuilding that which had been damaged by the war.

By the year 2001 both nations had put aside their differences to work together as business partners within the global economic community. In fact, Vietnam has invited many of America’s war veterans back, so as to help them come to grips with some ghosts they may have left behind. As well as aid in the closure of any emotional wounds that needed healing.

Meanwhile, on the Philippine home front, the year 1986 saw the peaceful “people power” revolution oust president Marcos, and install an over-rated housewife as its newest president. And after 28+ years, and 5 presidents, the Philippine nation is still suffering some of the worst poverty and corruption the world has ever seen.

Although there is some evidence of a steady economy, the nation is almost entirely dependent on the financial remittances of its OFW (overseas foreign workers) workforce. And the separation of wealth between the elite, middle classes and the poor, is some of the most horrendous ever witnessed anywhere in modern history. With a mere 40 family’s controlling 75% of the nations GDP. And 50% of the nations wealth.

Which leads us back to Marcos and his Martial Law period. Why, after 42 years do the people still treat that time, as if it just happened the other day? And why do they refuse any attempts to heal their wounds?

BBMThe most obvious reason in recent times, is the strong possibility that Marcos’ son, who currently maintains a seat in the Senate, may be seen as a strong presidential hopeful in the coming 2016 elections.

Sadly, the Philippine media — combined with the dirty politics of the current Aquino administration — will be spending the next 2 years destroying the good governance track record of Senator Marcos by reminding the people of his fathers negative activities.

And what’s even sadder, is the people’s unhealthy hero fetish with criminals and militants such as Gringo Honasan and Antonio Trillanes. Combined with their ever-increasing ignorance regarding history and the “Never again” bullshit, have created an entire generation with the inability to move forward while keeping themselves locked in 1986. Thus… by virtue of being ones son. Senator Marcos has become guilty by association.

And simply because the Philippines and its people refuse to heal their own wounds of the past, the nation continues to become a more impoverished and socially divided nightmare.

Jacques Phillip

As an ExPat living in the Philippines. I have found it relatively fun and exciting to have been given the opportunity to live among such wonderful people.

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