Last September 29, our class had an exposure trip in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, to supposedly commemorate another anniversary of what was termed as the era of the Philippine Dark Ages: the Martial Law. And in this museum /cemetery along Quezon Avenue lies all the names of the people who had taken arms to force this bleak period into a resounding close. In this place one can find documents, writings, journals, and other important historical paraphernalia and replicas dated back from this period to the eve of the People Power Revolution.
As I was writing this essay meant for a fulfillment of a requirement in my NSTP class, several questions came to my mind: shouldn’t the people just forget about this whole thing and move on? Why bother celebrating it every year, when the event itself isn’t a cause for celebration? Why rehash again memories that will only provoked repeated nightmares to those who had the worst of this Martial Law?
But then, I realized that I had the answer to these questions of mine all along. Not only did I get it from the lengthy yet informative lectures of our guides throughout that tour, but also from those pictures I saw posted in walls inside the museum.
We Filipinos simply love our country. So much that we retell these not-suited-for-bedtime stories to our children, our grand children, siblings, so on and so forth. So much that we are proud of our history, no matter how twisted and helpless this makes us feel.
And so much that, even though one family has ruined us so terribly, we remember them as the very people who instilled this monumental change in the course of our country, in all different aspects.
Bantayog ng mga Bayani is not only a sanctuary for those who had done so much to drive the country out of autocracy and into a new republic, nor is it only a place to rehash and relive those bittersweet memories in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
It is a place where we can truly revel in the words of the late Senator Ninoy Aquino: “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”
-Fatima Blaise M. Cruz