One of the headlines of the tabloids being sold in a newstand in Quezon Avenue MRT station is Marcoses In, Gloria Out. I did not anymore bother to waste my ten pesos buying the paper because the headline, as it should be, is clear to anyone even with amateurish knowledge of Philippine politics. He only has to connect the dots, relate this with Cory’s death, and he can already come up with a good conclusion, even without the help of a master’s degree in political science – that the Marcoses are allowed to attend the wake of Mrs. Aquino for the sake of forgiveness and reconciliation but that Gloria Arroyo, the incumbent president is left to wallow outside Manila Cathedral because Cory’s youngest daughter is sulking after Mrs. Arroyo “unknowingly” relieved the two faithful bodyguards of her mother. And so Kris’s conviction cannot be moved; she will never allow the incumbent president to touch even the first few steps of Manila Cathedral.
Mrs. Arroyo, the country’s most powerful person is barred from attending the wake. Not that she can’t because she can simply give order to the the Armed Forces to cordon the area, kidnap Kris Aquino, then have a photo-op with a Cory-inside-the-casket as a backdrop. She may not. She is a persona non grata in the wake. She’s like a bully in the neighborhood whom everyone decided to ignore and was not allowed to participate in the other children’s games, no amount of bullying can convince them to let her play with them ever again.
And I believe delicadeza has not altogether deserted Mrs. Arroyo. She has remnants of it, we are made to believe, although whatever is left is miniscule, as small if not smaller than her mole. Seeing her doing a photo-op with the casket as background is highly unlikely this time if we consider the passionate anger Kris and her siblings have regarding the way this administration treated their mother.
If we go back to the subject the title of this essay is suggesting, the Marcoses have long gone past that degree of forgiveness and acceptability that will allow them to expose themselves to public without any fear of being bludgeoned. Cory Aquino on her part was also found wanting when she was also the president of the Philippines. For why would the junior officers stage coup de etats, nine based on my flimsy historical readings, if they did not find irregularities during her term?
The recent association of saintly virtues with the former president is partly because she was dying. And for Filipinos death is a stage in one’s life where forgiveness is bestowed, sometimes even to the point of idealizing the person.
Ferdinand Marcos never reached this point because of the short time it took him to die, two years after he was deposed. Not enough. But this is transferred to Imelda Marcos. It will not anymore surprise me if one day I’ll see myself getting stuck in traffic caused by a procession of Imelda’s remain in Ayala Avenue.
This will definitely apply to Mrs. Arroyo. Now you see yourself hating her to the bones but give her enough time to regain that certain level of repectability and you’ll see yourself romanticizing the good ol’ days of being under Arroyo’s term. In fact Joseph Estrada who was found guily of plunder all of a sudden became a man of virtue and restraint after Kris mentioned that he tried not to publicize his visit during Cory’s dying days.
How easily we forget. How gullible we are. How as a nation we all became a bunch of laughable fellows who do not have the ability to learn anything from what we have gone through.
As societies advance or believe themselves to advance, to the degree that there is civilization, progress, so the cult of the dead, the respect for the dead diminishes. The dead person is no longer revered as a living being who has entered into the unknown, consecrated to the formidable “je ne sais quoi” of that which is beyond life. In modern societies, the dead person is simply zero, a non value.