2022 Philippine Elections

‘Kalimutan na’: Filipino elderly vote to move on from Martial Law

Rambo Talabong
‘Kalimutan na’: Filipino elderly vote to move on from Martial Law

WAITING. 80-year-old Teodora Santos (not her real name), at the Buhay na Tubig Elementary School in Imus, Cavite.

Rambo Talabong/Rappler

One senior citizen in Cavite says the rising prices of goods is a more urgent issue than remembering Martial Law

CAVITE, Philippines – “Kalimutan na lang (Let’s just forget it).”

Elisa Abong, 67, saw no point in thinking about the atrocities of Martial Law as she cast her vote on Monday, May 9. 

She was sitting in line at the Buhay na Tubig Elementary school, among dozens of senior citizens who had been waiting for at least an hour to cast their vote. Rappler spoke with three of them. 

The 2022 Philippine elections has been described as a choice between remembering and forgetting Martial Law, as surveys forecast that the next president could be Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the dictator who he has risen in popularity thanks in large part to disinformation.

Abong was in Saudi Arabia when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. She remembered how she suddenly couldn’t call her family and friends back home. 

Naputol lahat ng linya (All the lines were cut),” Abong told Rappler. 

When she came home, she heard of the good things that ensued, like news that the streets were more peaceful. She also heard of the bad, such as how over 3,000 were killed and 34,000 were tortured. 

But for her, it’s time to “move on.”

Mas mahalaga ang mga presyo ng nagtataas na bilihin (The rising prices of goods is a more urgent issue),” she said. 

FOR FORGETTING. Elisa Abong, 67, speaks to Rappler at the Buhay na Tubig Elementary School before she cases her vote. Rambo Talabong/Rappler

A few ways away on the same line was Teodora Santos* (not her real name), an 80-year-old who was waiting for her relatives to finish voting. 

Hindi naman lahat masama (It wasn’t all bad),” she said. 

Santos fondly recalled the Martial Law curfews and how it stopped her children from spending nights out. 

Ang kasamaan naman, maraming namatay (The bad was that many were killed),” she said. 

Still, she said it was time to move on. 

Kalimutan na ‘yung nakaraan. Past is past, ika nga (Let’s forget the past. As they say, past is past),” Santos said. 

Inside one of the ground floor classrooms, Salveo Pagsuyuin, 65, made a case for remembering. 

VOTE TO REMEMBER. Salveo Pagsuyuin, 65, speaks with Rappler as he votes at the Buhay na Bato Elementary School in Imus, Cavite. Rambo Talabong/Rappler

Limutan na? Malapit lang sila sa grasya… Malapit lang sila sa mga Marcos,” Pagsuyuin told Rappler. (Forget about it? They’re just closer to grace. They’re just closer to the Marcoses.)

Pagsuyuin was a high school student under the Marcos regime. He was too young to protest in the streets but he listened to the activists who told him of how the countryside was “napabayaan(neglected).”

What did he think of the Marcosian axiom that the sins of the father were not the sins of the son?

Yung ginawa ng father, para sa kanila. Kung ano ang kinulimbat, pinasa sa kanila. May kasalanan sila,” Pagsuyuin said. (What the father did was for them. What was stolen was passed on to them. They have sins, too.)

According to Pulse Asia’s February 2022 survey, while Marcos still enjoyed majority support from senior citizens, he polled the lowest in their age groups compared to their youngest counterparts. 

In the age groups 55-64 and 65 and above, Marcos was chosen as the presidential candidate by 54% and 55% of them, respectively. 

Meanwhile, Marcos enjoyed a 71% rating in the 18-24 age group and a 63% rating in the age groups 25-34 and 35-44. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.