Today, I rediscovered the writings of Ben Maynigo†, a cousin of my grandfather. In 1976, he and his family fled from the Marcos dictatorship disguised as Muslim barter traders. He was a former head of CSM, a youth movement against the dictatorship. He tells us:
“After traveling for several days from Makati through Zamboanga, Jolo (Sulu) and Tawi-tawi, the trip from Sitangkai to Tawau was literally a breath of fresh air. Upon reaching the high seas, we could not help feeling the excitement of being freed from the clutches of martial law and the Marcos dictatorship.
Then, a boat of pirates started chasing us. Luckily, we were escorted by a group of Muslim soldiers with submachine guns who chased them back, exchanging gunfire that innocently brought excitement to my two-year- old daughter. The pirates went away.”
What followed was a combination of connections, friends, escape, and Philippine-Malaysian geopolitics (read: Jabidah massacre and the Sabah claim). If you want to know more, you should read more of his experiences here. There are two parts. (https://benmaynigo.blogspot.com/…/sabah-sulu-sultan…)
He successfully reached the United States as a political refugee under UNHCR. Following the fall of the dictatorship, he became a lawyer, educator, entrepreneur, community leader, and prolific writer.
I am writing this, not only because it’s literally the stuff of any thriller movie, but more importantly because the dictatorship is REAL, its shadow of corruption is hounding us for decades, and once again, a Marcos and his cronies are running for election. Ben wrote about the ills of political dynasties, which have brought us billions in debt and a culture of impunity. I am loath to say things don’t change.
But it actually does. I’m proud to say to all those who fought in the dictatorship, that we now have a Leni Robredo, who is not a candidate of nepotism, dynasties, and padrino politics. Leni, who has worked in developmental law for years, enacted legislation for the poor, and transformed an inconsequential VP position into a globally certified, effective, and compassionate office…
She is the best candidate for our land. The people on her senate ticket are the best people for our land. And the grassroots movement that supports it is something our grandparents will be proud of. And our grandsons and granddaughters as well.
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.