Manila – A certain tune stopped me dead in my tracks one day while waiting for a jeepney ride. I figured it out from the cacophony of campaign jingles blurting out of political candidates’ campaign vehicles going around the streets. It was a song I sang devotedly in grade school, every morning during the flag ceremony, after singing the national anthem and reciting the patriotic oath.
I cussed at the audacity of people who brought back a song that should no longer be played. It harks back to the day when I was made to believe that my generation represented the country’s vibrant future, or so because the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos made us believe.
My generation was called “the Marcos babies”—those who were born between 1965 and 1985. We were indoctrinated with the myth of what Marcos called a disciplined and progressive “new society,” which the song was about. When the dictator declared martial law in 1972, we became “the martial law babies.”
Another act of impudence is that in this election, his son and namesake may become the next president, thanks to years of revising and attempting to erase the past, including the 1986 People Power revolution that was emulated by other nations and changed the world.
It’s been more than a decade since I last participated in an election. I was working overseas then. I felt a tinge of patriotism and homesickness when I cast my vote at the Philippine embassy.
When the 2020 lockdown eased a bit to let government offices function, I made sure I registered as a new voter. My name might have been erased from the voters’ roster of more than 10 years ago. I also voted ahead of the election day as media persons are listed for absentee voting.
I voted for the leader I want, and obviously judging from the shock and anger I felt at the resurrected song that was part of the sound of my childhood that I wanted to forget, I did not vote for a Marcos.
My childhood under the Marcos dictatorship was one that thrived on finding hope in silence while hearing stories of death and difficulties, of incarceration and repression of basic freedoms under martial rule.
My generation thrived on Voltes V, an English-dubbed Japanese anime TV series that was aired in the Philippines in the late 70s until the dictator stopped its broadcast. He felt that the TV show’s radical nuances might trigger rebellion among Filipinos.
Voltes V, a team composed of five young fighters, battle tyrants and invaders to free the oppressed and enslaved people. We were delighted by other TV series that educated us and showed us how to muster the courage to fight, but they were all short-lived under the government-controlled media.
This is our past – Marcos babies, martial law babies and the Voltes V generation. The past has some memories that we choose not to recall anymore, and parts that we must remember because they remind us of what we should never allow to happen again.
But sadly, with how people use technology and the internet to manipulate information and revise history, the past is in danger of not being recognized for its rich repository of lessons and experiences.
It must be something that George Orwell did not foresee. But to us, the past matters and it won’t exist in vain. That’s why we vote.
Diana Mendoza is a longtime journalist based in Manila. Send feedback to email@example.com