Professorial Chair holder: Never forget Martial Law

(from left) UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., Teodoro Valencia Professorial Chair holder Prof. Joyce Arriola, and UST Secretary-General Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P.

FILIPINOS MUST remember what happened during Martial Law as forgetting or denying the abuses during the period is a form of silencing its victims, a multi-awarded scholar said.

Prof. Joyce Arriola, holder of the Teodoro F. Valencia Professorial Chair in Journalism, noted that an avalanche of information and the plurality of opinions are competing with the truth behind the Martial Law narrative.

“Some of this information may be true, but some are also false. [Forgetting as an] annulment is done by flooding the market with information, which led to confusion and the muting of the essential story,” Arriola said during her professorial lecture last Nov. 13.

Arriola, also the director of the Research Center for Culture, Arts, and the Humanities, said values such as truth, justice, rule of law, and dignity are being replaced by half-truths and outright falsehoods.

“This is one of the reasons why memory studies should be taken seriously in the Philippine academy today. There have been efforts from some camps to revise history and to deny that the martial law era has ever happened at all,” she added.

Arriola said Filipinos have the “moral obligation” to look back on the past as failure to remember the atrocities during the dictatorship is a failure to empathize with the victims.

“We are duty-bound to remember the past. The moral priority belongs to the victims,” Arriola added.

Arriola presented her lecture “The Prospects of Memory Studies in the Philippines” as part of the professorial chair conferment for her outstanding contributions in journalism. A professorial chair is given to an academic whose contributions in the field of teaching and research are significant.

The Teodoro F. Valencia Professorial Chair in Journalism was named after a columnist, commentator, and University of Santo Tomas (UST) journalism alumnus who was described by the Associated Press as “one of the most influential journalists in the Philippines.”

The professorial chair was established by the Teodoro F. Valencia Foundation, Inc. and UST in 1988 to “improve journalism in the Philippines” and to “affirm UST’s commitment to inculcate in her students a Catholic moral principle and responsible press based on truth and justice,” according to the university’s website.

Arriola, who teaches communication and literature courses at the Faculty of Arts and Letters and the Graduate School, is a recipient of the Outstanding Book Award from the National Academy of Science and Technology and the 2018 Outstanding Achievement in Research in the Humanities Awardee by the National Research Council of the Philippines. She was also the director of the Research Center for Culture, Arts, and the Humanities and the old Center for Intercultural Studies.

The professorial chair lecture was held as part of the Quasquicentennial Anniversary of the Faculty of Arts and Letters. – Nillicent B. Bautista

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