‘You can’t go back again’ | Inquirer Opinion

I am happy to note, first, that the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino has found its place in the national narrative of heroism. The survey includes some surprising findings. In class ABC, for instance, the same proportion of respondents, 23 percent, included Bonifacio and Aquino in their lists. And in Mindanao, Cory Aquino outpolled Ninoy, 19 to 15 percent.Second, the preeminence of Rizal is overwhelming and, to those of us who went to college under the steady influence of Renato Constantino’s selective and misleading reading of Rizal, somewhat surprising. But there is truly something we can all learn from Rizal and the so-called Generation of ’72: the youthful cohort who were traumatized and politicized by the gratuitous execution of the priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora. The true beginnings of the Filipino nation can be traced here.In eight years, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the imposition of martial law. Your constituents will fully expect you to mark this national tragedy with the appropriate initiatives, perhaps even lead the nation in vowing, “Never Again.” But the same year will also mark the 150th anniversary of the Gomburza execution. You might want to take part in the commemorative rites too.But enough of the past.You must go forward, and take full part in the defining struggle of our time: the fight against inequality.Corruption is the familiar dragon that we seek to slay, but there is a bigger monster lurking in the background. We often define this behemoth in economic terms, in terms of the widening gap between the richest and the poorest. But in truth, inequality rears its ugly head in education, in business, in culture, in religion, in politics.Difficult times lie ahead. In part, the difficulty lies in the terrain that you’ve chosen to put your stake in, towards the political center. That is, I suspect, where most Filipinos would place themselves, if asked. But standing out, cutting a profile, is easier when you’re standing on one edge, leveraging the extreme. But governing—governing is hard work indeed.

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