Episode 6: Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of the EDSA Revolution

After much reading and ruminating on today’s EDSA 25th Anniversary celebration, I realized that in our current batch of UP Law students (Batch 2014), I am one of the few who were alive during the EDSA Revolution. I may be one of an even smaller group who were actually there, amidst the throngs of people who swarmed to the streets to show their disapproval of Marcos ans his regime.

Unfortunately, beyond a vague recollection of a sea of people and an unusually high incidence of the color yellow, I don’t remember a damn thing.

I figure that it has to do with why I was there. The point being, I didn’t have a reason to be there in the first place. I was barely 6 years old, and at the time my main preoccupation was watching Bugs Bunny cartoons – apparently the only set of cartoons allowed at the time. I can’t even really gripe about Voltes V being banned by Marcos at some point, as it was banned the year I was born.

In short, I’m one of those who were born in the tail end of Marcos rule, and had little to no idea of what was going on.

My curiosity and interest in EDSA stems from my being present there and not remembering anything. Many of the EDSA stories I know of are either from stories in mainstream media or from my parents, the culprits behind my presence at EDSA 25 years ago. Try as I might, I cannot bring to fore any clear memory of EDSA, except that at one point my mother was carrying me – why she was carrying me, I have no idea, though I can only guess that my feet had started to hurt after walking for some time.

I want to remember EDSA because I feel that it was a turning point in our nation’s history. After years of abuse, our nation finally came together and said, “Enough is enough.” Our people forced a military-backed, U.S. supported dictator into self-imposed exile – without any form of violence.

I find it saddening that today, the younger generations are too far detached from EDSA, to the point that revisionists have succeeded in at least reshaping the collective opinion of the Marcos era – that it was a time of prosperity and progress, that dissent was few and far in between, and that the future would have been great had it not been for EDSA. Sadly, not enough books chronicling the facts of EDSA have captured the imagination of the young, and so those who wish to undermine EDSA and its legacy need only to put up a website for free and write away. Too often I’ve seen kids jumping up and down, pointing to such websites as authoritative on the subject – even when nearly everything written in it is pure opinion with only a smattering of facts weaved in for support. One website, whose URL I will not place here as I refuse to give them free advertising, even goes so far as to proclaim the Marcos era as some sort of golden age for the Philippines. I won’t go into a refutation here, but suffice to say that the overwhelming milieu of facts say otherwise, and that it is a gross disservice to the Filipino people to omit the memory of those who died fighting Marcos and his cronies and goons.

I guess it’s just my luck that I have a student activist for a father, and that part of his experience was detention by the military and the abduction of one of his dear friends whose body, to this day, was never recovered. It’s also my luck that I took economics as an undergrad, so when people start whipping out economic figures relating to the Marcos era, it’s easy for me to deconstruct it and see how the facts are getting twisted. And now, I am blessed to be taking law in the best law school in the country and learning the legal aspects of what happened during Martial Law, so I can weigh such claims as “Marcos was not a dictator” with more nuance.

Unfortunately, not everyone is in the same boat that I am.

Partly, I also want to remember EDSA for Liam. Whether he likes it or not, Liam will inherit a country to whom the legacy of EDSA belongs. I don’t want him to grow up not knowing why people went there that day. I don’t want him to become a part of a society that has forgotten why the chant “Tama na, sobra na, palitan na” came to be.

Certainly, I don’t want Liam to be interviewed one day, be asked “Kelan nangyari yung EDSA ’86?” and not know the answer.

~ ~ ~

A quick word on the feedback I’ve read on P-Noy’s administration. First, I couldn’t care less what car P-Noy bought – although I maintain he should have bought a Mitsubishi Evo X, as our road system isn’t ideal for Porches. I will concede that as President, even something as personal as this can be considered part of the sphere of public interest. That being said, for as long as P-Noy bought it with his money, and for as long as he was above-board about where he got his money, how much the car cost, and that we’re assured that no public funds were spent on it, I don’t see the problem. Unlike *ahem* other candidates, P-Noy never claimed to be poor. Frugal, yes, but poor? That would have been a big lie, similar to that big lie about the Philippines being a Singapore if EDSA didn’t happen – easily debunked by an elementary review of common knowledge.

Second, some people (and by “some people” I refer to the authors of the website whose URL I refuse to publish) seem hell-bent on nitpicking mistakes made by the Aquino administration. I don’t believe anyone ever promised a perfect government – I don’t even think that’s possible in any country, let alone ours. But I do believe that we were promised a government that would not tolerate crime and corruption. Proof positive of this is the continued efforts to make GMA and her cronies accountable for the anomalies that occurred during her extended term, the impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez for her failure to act on cases filed against GMA and her cronies, and the surfacing of Heidi Mendoza as a witness against corruption within the AFP.

The mere fact that a civilian could come forward with an accusing finger at no less than AFP generals both retired and active tell me that this government has done a good job in fostering an environment where ordinary people are emboldened to fight corruption alongside our authorities. At the risk of sounding overly righteous, I sincerely doubt this could have been possible had any other presidential candidate won.

Curiously enough, none of the former presidential candidates, save for Erap’s occasional press release, has participated in any way, shape or form in pushing for reforms in government. Were their campaign promises merely the usual lip service? I wish someday they’d prove me wrong – but I’m not expecting anything.


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