By Rachelle Siazon for PEP.ph
Award-winning Filipino writer Ricky Lee admitted that he is affected whenever information spreads aimed at erasing the truth that took place during martial law.
Ricky said this when he was interviewed by veteran GMA-7 journalist Howie Severino on The Howie Severino Podcast on September 13.
Howie asked Ricky about the upcoming 49th anniversary of the declaration of martial law on September 21, 2021.
The late President Ferdinand Marcos, who served as President for 21 years, declared martial law on September 21, 1972. That lasted until January 17, 1981.
The Marcos dictatorship was finally overthrown due to the historic EDSA Revolution or People Power on February 22 to 25, 1986.
How Ricky Got Detained During Martial Law
Ricky testified that he was one of those who experienced human rights violations during the martial-law era of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He was in his 20s, studying English at the University of the Philippines and living in the Narra Dormitory, when his books were confiscated in 1972.
He decided to join the fight to end the Marcos dictatorship.
“Di pa ako naka-graduate sa UP. So, nung nag-declare ng martial law, at kinonfiscate ang mga libro ko…
“I was an activist already at that time, joining rallies, and so on and so forth. So, I dropped out of school.
“I never finished schooling because of martial law. I got involved full time already.”
But Ricky clarified, he never held a gun.
The place where Ricky used to live was raided.
“Hindi ako humawak ng baril. Hindi ako marunong humawak ng baril up to now…”
“Tinatanong ako, ‘Asan ang baril?’ Sabi ko, ‘Hindi ako marunong humawak ng baril…’”
When the military detained him in the Fort Bonifacio detention cell then, it was clear to him that he had no sufficient reason and that what he had suffered was against the law.
“They found reason na hindi naman legitimate reason. Because pag hinuhuli ka nun, ang tawag sa iyo detainee, hindi prisoner.
“Wala naman talagang charges. Hindi mo alam kung bakit. Dini-detain ka lang nila para di ka makakilos. Hindi ka maging aktibista. So, dini-detain kayo.
“Walang hearing, walang charges, at hindi mo alam kung kailan kayo makakalabas, kasi detainee kayo.”
In the middle of what he went through then, Ricky alleged how Marcos covered up the situation of their detainees because they expressed their attitude against important issues happening in the country.
“There was a time nasa loob kami ng detention sa Fort Bonifacio, sa TV, ini-interview si President Marcos nun at sinasabi niya, ‘There are no political prisoners in this country.’
“So, nagtingininan kami lahat. ‘So, ano tayo?’ So, yun. Walang charge. You never know kung hanggang kailan ka makakalabas. Hindi mo alam ang reason ba’t ka dinetain.”
On Historical Revisionism: ‘Para akong binubura. It hurts.’
Howie asked Ricky how he feels when reading information or if someone comes across his video or any online content that changes the version of history or if it is called historical revisionism.
Because of his personal experience of the incident during martial law, Ricky feels that disinformation about the issue is also erasing him.
“Unang-una, I feel bad kapag nakikita ko yung sinasabi mo, kasi feeling ko, para akong binubura. Parang binubura ako.
“Maski papaano, I think may na-contribute ako sa panahon na nangyayari sa atin yun, so parang nabubura lahat yun.
“So siyempre, I feel totally wiped out pag may nababasa akong ganun. So it hurts.”
Ricky believes that one needs to be observant and smart with the information consumed, because he thinks the changing version of history is chronic.
He explains, “Yung pagbubulag… Dati itinatago yung kabulagan. Ngayon, inilalantad nila nang paulit-ulit para matanggap.
“Yung itinatago, ang ginagawa ngayon, inilalantad, para maitago. Sa kakalantad, naitatago siya.
“Kasi umuulit-ulit. Nabubulag ang tao. Naitatago. So, nag-iiba ang paraan ng pagtatago.
“Naging mas tuso, nagiging mas maabilidad, mas maparaan, at in a way, naging mas successful.”
Aniya, patunay ang mga patung-patong na legal cases kaugnay ng corruption at human rights violation sa mga kalupitan noong panunungkulan ni Marcos.
Sabi ni Ricky ukol sa mga taong bulag sa katotohanan: “Pero di ko naman sila lahat masisisi, e. Kasi ang daming mga forces ang humaharang para makita ng tao yung totoong nangyari.
“Ang daming mga puwersa sa palibot na di kasalanan ng mga hindi nakakaunawa at nakakakita. So I am not blaming them.
“Pero sana makita nila. Kasi totoo yung nangyari.
“Ang daming mga ebidensiya at ang daming mga existing na mga documents, mga tao sa palibot, na ang daling kausapin para malaman mo yung totoong nangyari.
“In short, ang thinking ko, ang dali-dali makita yung totoo. Ba’t di makita yung totoo? So, may konting frustration sa level na yun.“
But Ricky still emphasized that whoever is the instigator of the sale of lies and misinformation should be held accountable.
Howie also asked Ricky that in the issue of “#neverforget” about martial law, what should the people not forget?
Ricky’s metaphorical answer is that he believes he has made a great contribution as a writer to help remove the barrier for the blind.
“Unang-una, hindi dapat tayo nakakalimot…
“So, meron kang history. Kung wala kang history—at totoong history, yung truth—hindi ka totoong nag-e-exist sa present in the real sense na, ‘Eto ako. Ito ang identity ko. Ito ang pupuntahan ko.’
“Hindi iyan magiging totoo until nakita mo nang totoo yung kasaysayan mo.
“So, I think mahalaga yung pinag-aaralan yung kasaysayan, writer ka man o hindi.
“Pero lalo na kung writer ka. Kasi trabaho mo magtanggal ng pagkabulag sa ibang tao.”
Removing Blinders on Issues
Ricky also believes that there is more than one way to present the truth on important social issues.
She connects this with mentoring aspiring writers in her workshop classes.
“Sa iba-ibang levels puwedeng mag-respond. Hindi ko sinasabi na lahat ng writers gumawa ng overt na political na kuwento, e.
“Kung ang ginagawa mong kuwento ay nagtatanggal ng harang sa mga manonood tulad sa mga disabled, halimbawa, and then gumawa ka ulit ng kuwento na nagtanggal ng maling trato sa gender sa gays…
“Dahil ang audience mo natatanggalan mo ng isa o dalawang harang, pagtingin sa issues na pulitikal, mas nakikita nila yun maski hindi ko ikuwento.
“Kumbaga, tumutulong ako matanggalan sila ng isang harang, then makikita nila yung ibang aspeto pa ng society na di ko kinukuwento. Pero dahil natanggalan na sila ng harang, mas nakikita nila.
“So, di ko nire-require, ‘Lahat kayo na writers dapat ito lagi isusulat niyo.’
“Kung saan kayo mahusay at nasaan ang passion niyo, dun kayo magsulat at magtanggal lang kayo ng harang.”
This story originally appeared on Pep.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.