Filipinos in Canada continue to fight denialism

A forum titled BALIK-TANAW: Martial Law at 50 will also be held on Sept. 23 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada.


MANILA — For a Filipino community in Manitoba, Canada, truth must prevail and the fight against disinformation must continue not only for their generation but for those to come.

“What is at stake today is the truth will be reversed and it will be replaced by false information. It is an insult not just to all Martial Law martyrs but it’s for the people who shed their blood for the truth. We want to spread awareness about this historical distortion, because we oppose for our truth will be manipulated just to serve the interests of the Marcoses, and also, in our own language, ang mga naghahariang uri (ruling class),” Jomay Amora-Dueck, co-founder of the Philippine-Manitoba Historical Society told Bulatlat in an interview.

This month, their group will be holding a series of events commemorating the struggles of ordinary folk during the impostion of martial law. This, they said, is their contribution in fighting disinformation on one of the darkest periods of the country’s recent history.

Among the events that they intend to stage are exhibits (both online and offline), film showing, and a cultural celebration. Martial Law survivor Marichu Antonio who is now based in Calgary Canada is scheduled to speak during their planned activities.

A forum titled BALIK-TANAW: Martial Law at 50 will also be held on Sept. 23 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada.

“There will be celebration because we recognize this is one of the darkest moments of our history and at the end of the day we still have to celebrate our victories. We have the EDSA revolution. We still all have these victories that are worth celebrating for that’s why we decided to do it in the last part to bring everyone together, celebrate and unify our strengths,” Dueck said.

‘We owe it to the youth’

Dueck described the organizing of the series of activities commemorating ML@50 as “suntok sa buwan” (almost impossible) and that it did not happen overnight.

There were, she said, hesitations as some found the concept very heavy on history and that there were those who appeared to be “allergic to the truth.” They then wrote to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, who eventually accepted their proposal.

She said that they persisted in staging these activities in time for the 50th commemoration of the imposition of martial law by the late dictator Marcos Sr. These are being done as part of their commitment to educating young Filipinos who are now based in Canada.

“I think we owe it to our youth to defend the truth, because we are the sole accountable to why this is happening. Our parents defended us and ousted Marcos Sr. from power. And that’s what we’re lacking, we didn’t do enough to prevent this from happening, like Marcos Jr. rising to power and the prevailing historical distortion,” Dueck said.

Education, she said, is very important in ensuring that the youth will be told of the horrors of the past and ensure that there will be no repeat in the present. However, she noted that in the Philippines, there appears to be less and less government budget to preserve and promote the country’s history.

In the budget proposal of Marcos Jr. to the Philippine congress, government institutions such as the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), National Archives of the Philippines (NAP), and National Library of the Philippines (NLP) will be receiving big budget cuts.

“Right now, we (Philippine-Manitoba Historical Society) feel that we have to do something about our situation,” Amora-Dueck pressed. “We are afraid they [government] will bury our history. We are afraid they will burn all of our archives and books. We resist the red tagging of our books. We are quite fearful to risk the lives of our truth-tellers like our journalists, historians and teachers.That’s why we made a movement, a massive international pressure to stop all of these from happening.”

Nico Bryle Alfafara, also a co-founder of Philippine-Manitoba Historical Society (PMHS), described it as a dynamic organization.

The community is currently composed of seven board of directors and several volunteers. There are members who have their own families and members who are workers. Some members are students living in Canada.

“The people in our organization have a similar mindset and aim for a similar direction,” he said. “We value the preservation of the truth, and making sure that we do not allow disinformation. Even though we are currently few in numbers, we are able to create an event that can change the minds of a lot of people.”

Response of fellow young Filipinos in Canada

Alfafara said that there are many young Filipinos, either immigrants or were born there, who seem “detached from what is really happening back home.”

“I saw the differences due to time zone and distance. Their only sources of information are all based on social media and headlines. They do not have that natural incentive to dig deeper into what is exactly happening,” he said.

He said that with Philippine history not being taught to them, they can easily be victimized by the massive disinformation available online. “It is alarming for me that’s why I’m too invested in trying to make sure that we [PMHS] counter these (false) narratives. Because when we base our decisions on distorted history and fake news, we will continue voting for bad politicians and it is going to be a cycle.”

For Dueck, she stressed the importance of their activities as it would be the youth who will “inherit everything.” She added, “I believe it is not too late. But we have to act fast.” (JJE, DAA)  (

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