Batuhan: The new battle

·3 min read

It’s difficult to imagine that something good came out of being a child of Martial Law. After all, what good could come from being raised in repression? What benefit could people get from having their voices silenced, and their rights curtailed? What hope could a generation have, when it seems that the nation was in such a dark and dreary place?

For me personally, if I had to dig deep and identify the one thing good that happened to me during those difficult times, it was that I learned to write, and write reasonably well. At a time when ideas were repressed, and dissent was hardly tolerated, it was one’s ability to express one’s thoughts and sentiments that got one through all the pain and suffering of those years.

Student writers like me, at the time, were of course the ones who continued to hold truth to power. The mainstream media were all but cowed and silenced, either enriched by the support it gave to the dictatorship or muzzled by the repressive machinery that controlled the press during those days.

When one could not get the truth from The Bulletin Today (now Manila Bulletin), they turned to the Philippine Collegian, or to any number of student publications that dared to publish the truth, in defiance of the scare tactics of the regime. And the gift of writing flourished for many, to me and I am sure to many other aspiring others as well.

How times have changed.

Today, the pen is no more, the hundreds of words of ideas and ideals, replaced by the keyboard and a few characters, to convey falsehoods and half-truths. When before, the dictatorship had to resort to their armies of paid accomplished journalists to spread their lies about the “golden age” of Martial Law, today that task is accomplished by an an army of semi-literate keyboard warriors, spreading their version of the truth through social media.

Back in the day, the regime had the likes of Adrian Cristobal and Francisco “Kit” Tatad, two esteemed writers to advocate for them. At least there was, if nothing else, the semblance of literary talent in those who defended the regime, something that cannot be said for today’s keyboard warriors, whose misspelled words and disjointed sentences convey, with as much if not more efficacy, the falsehoods and historical revisionism that the powers that be wish to propagate.

Times have changed, the battleground has shifted. But the war is still the same. It is to win the hearts and minds of the Filipino, between the forces of truth, and the proponents of falsehood. Yes, Adrian Cristobal may not be around, but someone like Sass is proving to be equally as effective. Kit Tatad does not feature anymore, but someone like Jam Magno is quite able to take his place. Though the medium may be different, the goal is still the control of the Filipino mind.

And so what to do, for those who used to wield the pen so eloquently?

Needs must, as they say.

The old must learn something new. And the new must master the wisdom of the old, to use in the here and now.

Donald Trump, though twisted and warped his mind may be, is a master of the new media. Within the confines of a tweet, he could single-handedly mobilise his followers to do the unthinkable, dare I say even to storm the hallowed halls of Congress. So wielders of the pen, let us learn from his methods, though not his ideology.

And what of those who now are masters of the new communications technology? Well, educate yourselves. Know the truth. And untwist the lies. So that those who have been poisoned by falsehoods may yet be awakened from their ignorant stupor.

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