Lim: Toni & Bong

With the collective fury spewing over Toni Gonzaga’s interview of Bongbong Marcos, I had to find the time to watch it—tragically adding to the 7.1 million views (as of this writing) of that interview.

I can imagine how those who suffered through the Martial Law regime must have recoiled over Bongbong’s glowing remarks about his father. But what would you expect a son to say about his father?

Better sons and daughters, though, might be magnanimous enough to admit to the flaws and failings of their ascendants, even offer humble apologies for the past. But would such admissions help or hurt their political careers?

Do the sins of parents taint their children? Sadly, yes. I am not privy, though, to Bongbong’s role in his father’s reign of terror when scores were illegally detained, tortured and killed.

I was a year old when Ferdinand Marcos became President. I was eight when he declared Martial Law, 17 when he lifted it, 21 when he was deposed.

My mother did everything in her power to stop me from taking Journalism at UP Diliman. She feared my untimely death due to burning idealism. My mother was a wise woman. She broke my heart but saved my life in the bargain.

Toni’s program gives her guests a platform to say whatever they want because she seems to believe that by staying neutral, she appears impartial. But no one can truly be impartial because we all have values, emotions, affiliations.

At best, we can try to be impartial. And we can do this by being critical not by staying neutral. As we listen to the narratives of our interview subjects, we should learn to challenge them. We should dig deep, ask the hard questions, present contrary versions, invite rebuttal.

But Toni didn’t do any of that. She accepted everything Bongbong said as gospel truth. She gave him a platform to reframe and revise history. And she did not disclose that he was, in fact, her ninong (wedding sponsor). In Filipino culture, such a relationship is practically sacred.

So, while Toni has the right to use her channel as she desires—a platform to push political agendas or to grant friends favors, people also have the right to question her credibility and sense of professionalism.

It is the moral responsibility of those who lived through the Marcos years to set the record straight so those who know no better cannot allow the sins of the past to be repeated in the future.

Of Toni or Bongbong, I am neither fan nor foe. But I grew up in the Martial Law era so I know the truth. If Bongbong wants to be judged by his own merits, he should face the facts and acknowledge the past.

And if Toni wants to be respected as a professional, she should choose integrity over celebrity. For what is greater following and fortune if you have lost direction as well as your soul?

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