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Never forget

“To know nothing of what happened before you were born, is to forever remain a child.”

– Cicero

Election talks are abuzz. Possible candidates have been making waves in the news, bent on etching their names on the people’s minds. A particular family name stands out and is the topic of many heated debates online: Marcos.

There are many people convinced that the Philippines was and would be better off under the control of the Marcoses. Naturally, this is a controversial and sensitive issue, which deserves to be discussed further.

23 September 2014 marked the 42nd anniversary of President Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law. The victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law period spoke up about their experiences, and urged the public to “Never Forget”. We, Filipinos, have the tendency to disregard the past so quickly, and the recent clamor for the resurrection of the Marcos regime solidifies this propensity. With that, our study of the past seems nothing more than an academic discourse. There is a danger that our past may also become our future.

However, it must be pointed out that history does not repeat itself. Rather, it is the people who echo past mistakes. This could be avoided if we remember—remember how millions of our countrymen were tortured and killed, how many families were destroyed and ripped apart, how our country was raped and robbed by our own leaders.

Although the majority of the students in the Ateneo Law School were not yet born during the Marcos regime, they surely have been told the stories about the period at home or in school.

Knowledge of such stories notwithstanding, it is admittedly difficult to empathize without having a first-hand experience, or without talking to someone who suffered multiple human rights violations. This year, the Ateneo Law School community is encouraged to volunteer for the Human Rights Violations Claims Board (HRVCB).

The student-volunteers are tasked to interview and help the claimants file their applications. Through this voluntary work, the students are given the opportunity to come face-to-face with the victims and see how much our knowledge of the law can actually help others. We have a chance to go beyond our books and jurisprudence and make a difference. More importantly, by hearing their stories, we remember our country’s history.

We may not have experienced the past, but we cannot ignore it. The country’s history forms part of our past, present, and future. It is up to us, the next generation, to remember the horrors our countrymen have gone through in order for us to avoid the same from happening again.

Never forget. P

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