I was born during the Marcos regime. The name Ferdinand Marcos has been, to my generation, synonymous with prejudice -- we grew up either liking him or hating him. Anyone who experienced and witnessed his rise to power and how he held on to it for 20 years has an opinion, and this opinion spouts off as quickly as his name is mentioned.
As a little girl, I was made to believe that he was a great man, the symbol of my country once he became the president of the Philippines in 1965. It was like this until my early years in school, as we were made to sing hymns extolling him and his leadership that taught discipline. Pictures of him on the school walls and buildings were rammed on our faces every single day.
But every time I get home from school, things became different. All the grown-ups in the family talked about him in whispers, and this went on until Marcos declared Martial Law eight years into and on the second term of his presidency.
The hushed talk about Marcos changing into a self-centered propagandist and greedy, self-styled, suddenly opulent dictator worsened as his regime became widely criticized for repressing democratic processes and basic freedoms. He hijacked the Philippines with terror and monopolized political power, turning it into an impoverished country that incurred a huge external debt until the time he was ousted by the people power revolution in 1986.
Undoubtedly, the brilliant man portrayed as a hero during my childhood did not fit the definition of a hero I grew up learning about.