Filipin-Oz

Great Rememberings of Martial Law Years Gone By Retold Like Pages of An Old Diary

September 25th, 2020 · No Comments

A Critique by Mars Cavestany

You’d think that it was written in jest, but looking back at one’s very own experience during the Martial regime in the Philippines, which vicariously, upon reading this book, almost instinctively coerces you to re-examine – it does leave a bitter levelled off by a sour grin.

But all is well that, serves you well, precisely because of the cross-pollination of experiences one realizes through imaginative or sympathetic participation of another or other, in this case, three “spring chickens” equivalent to so-called millenials of this generation, who foray into government service at the height of Military rule.  Although the book cunningly, if elegantly skirts having to name and shame the powers that be, one can feel the palpable all-encompassing presence and dominance of “FM” like a veritable sword of Damocles looming above everyone’s head at that point in time in the bosom of our beloved Inang Bayan, the Republic of the Philippines.

Indeed, “When In Doubt, Salute,” is a testimony to their adventures –  three lasses who “dared to think, questioned the system, broke the rules, and defied the norms” of a repressive regime seated at Malacañang Palace which was their very workplace where they etched a memorable mosaic of personal martial law vignettes.

In their own words, “This is our story, as we saw it, as we lived it, and we survived to tell the tale.”  Finally, their differences of personalities were forged sustained and “endured much longer than Martial Law.”

Almost like sacred jottings, every word in this book are ripped from the “story of courage and survival” shared and individually prefaces by joint authors Remy Calangi Alejandrino and our very own Benjie de Ubago (who has returned and resettled in Sydney to be the pitilessly unsparing journalist-cultural and is therefore fortuitously timed with the anniversary of Proclamation 1081, a perfect opportunity to grab hold of and leaf through this unmerciful hard-hearted reminder about this dark and historic period.

The authors who lived to tell the tale: (L-R)
Benjie de Ubago and Remy Calangi Alejandrino

After the dismantling of the conjugal dictatorship of the Marcoses in 1986, the books came out one by one too many, each one with a big reveal to unravel the martial law puzzle.  Some are entirely personal recollections, and this one’s a primary example, somehow indirectly unveiling the secret machinations vis-a-vis unmasking political pawns whilst recalling funny pathetic  instances of beating the famous curfew, thus offering glimpses of those rare bright spots of humanistic Endeavour’s in a rather blighted landscape.

As it stands, Filipino-migrants overseas especially their millennial offspring know nothing of this most important epoch in our struggle as a Filipino nation. Short of making it a required reading.  Filipino-Australians, as a matter of fact, MUST READ this short 120 page-book because we need to remember and ultimately never forget.

What is more, with the latest happenstance in our Mother country, time and the Marcos children – mind you, only in the Philippines does this sort  of inanity persist – have embarked on some kind of a “Great Forgetting” movement to forgive-forget and move on which can only be balanced and squared off with an unconditional pledge of “Great Remembering”.

(All rights reserved Mars Cavestany)

First published in Philippine Community Herald August 2020 edition.

Tags: Features