On the face of it, Reader, the two attempts at renaming the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) seem harmless enough, something we should not concern ourselves about, especially when so many fires – economic, education, health, energy, agriculture, environment – need to be resolved before the Philippines can get going again.
But as I see it, those attempts are but the tip of an iceberg. The efforts of the Marcos social media propaganda machine over the past 8 years to revise Philippine history, are now being pursued and expanded enthusiastically by politicians who want to brown-nose the new administration, or who have an axe to grind against the Presidents Aquino (mostly Cory), or a combination of both.
What revisions are we talking about? The original plan seemed to be to transform the picture of a 20-year regime of Marcos the Elder from one that plundered the country of an estimated $10 billion, imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed political prisoners and critics of the regime, and left the economy belly up in its aftermath, to one that was almost literally a golden age for the Philippines – peaceful and plentiful and full of beautiful new infrastructure –that deserves to be emulated by Marcos the Younger. The expanded plan is not just to extol the Marcos years, but to belittle its successor regime and those who fought to end the dictatorship. Only consider:
The first attempt was by Arnolfo Teves, congressman from Negros Oriental , member of one of the longest-running political dynasties in the Philippines, It traces its roots to the 1850s, and it won in the first elections under American rule.
Unfortunately for him, he backed the wrong horse (Manny Pacquiao, who lost in Negros Oriental) in the last elections. It is obvious that his HB 610, renaming NAIA as Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport, is his way of ingratiating himself with the new President.
Doubly unfortunate for him was that Rappler fact-checked his stated reason for the renaming – that it was Marcos Sr. who caused the airport to be built – and found that Marcos had nothing to do with the construction of the airport. The Manila International Airport Authority confirmed this.
Undaunted, Teves said that Marcos and his wife Imelda “improved” the airport, so it should be named after him anyway. And added, for good measure, that anyway EDSA (the revolt) is irrelevant today. Why ? Because “If it is relevant today, BBM would never win”. So speaks Teves. The BBM victory is equated to the Filipino people turning their backs on the EDSA revolt.
Think about it, Reader. The EDSA People Power Revolt was aimed at restoring the democracy we had lost under Marcos the Elder. Therefore, saying it is irrelevant means that our hard-won democracy no longer matters. Does it also mean that we are ready to accept another dictatorship, this time by Marcos the Younger? Are we being conditioned for it?
Reader, we must not accept the trivializing of the EDSA People Power Revolt as “irrelevant”. It held the international community enthralled at the nobility of our purpose and our peaceful revolt. They not only hailed us, many other countries emulated us. That was a truly golden moment.
Not content with that, he adds that it is important for Filipinos to know who worked to improve the Philippines, and he doesn’t want to give credit to those who “destroyed” it. Let’s make sure, Reader, that we are clear what Teves is saying/implying: that Marcos and Imelda worked to improve the Philippines, and that Ninoy Aquino/Cory “destroyed” the country. Repeating this often enough, without any murmur of disapproval on our part, and pretty soon, we will be believing it.
Now let us focus on the second attempt at renaming NAIA, this by Migz Zubiri, incoming Senate President. He wants to restore it to its original name, Manila International Airport. Why? “If no one will agree on a particular family name, kasi siyempre, yellow against red nanaman yan, e di, neutral nalang tayo”. He brings the issue down to a simple choice between Aquino (yellow) and Marcos (red). Our Senate President stays “neutral”, The consummate politician – duck, hold, and cover.
Unfortunately, that neutrality results in erasing Ninoy Aquino from the airport where he lost his life in the service of the Filipino people, and where he was memorialized by them, just as Quezon City , or Roxas City, or Quirino Ave, etc. do. Folks, this is the first step in erasing the memory of what Ninoy Aquino did for country. Revisionism run rampant.
Then there is Duterte Youth party list representative Ducielle Cardema who filed HB 1252 (it was a refiling because she had in April filed the same bill), also restoring the NAIA to its original name. Why? “Our nation’s capital is named Manila, therefore our country’s international gateway to the world must be known as the Manila International Airport as a sense of pride for our country’s capital.” Can you imagine – a legislator, no less – ignorant of the fact that Quezon City became the capital of the Philippines seventy-four years ago? That makes two of our legislators proposing bills with total disregard of the truth. How many more?
But she gave another reason: that the airport’s name should not have been politicized in the first place. Something akin to Zubiri’s “neutrality”. With the same implication, the same impact.
So the question is: Are the Filipino people going to let this pass? If so, we are on a slippery slope downward, and will end up the laughing stock of the world. From village hero to village idiot. And we did it to ourselves.