As this issue goes to print, we also enter the week of remembering the anniversary of the EDSA People Power 1986 uprising that brought down the Marcos dictatorship. Older Filipinos still remember that event and know how that felt. Those who were youngsters at that time remember being left at home with other relatives while their parents and older siblings went to the rallies. Or remember wearing the yellow t-shirt that their parents made them put on when they were brought along. Others remember keeping vigil, listening to the news, and making ready for any possible scenario.
EDSA was not an overnight miracle born from a week-long event in February. It was years in the making. Living and suffering under the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship, people from all sectors, communities, and areas around the country were reeling under poverty, militarization, development aggression, killings and massacres, high prices, unemployment, corruption, social injustice, you name it. The protests, strikes, rallies, and marches that erupted all over the archipelago went to make the road to EDSA possible. It was a long struggle because of the fascist repression of the Marcos regime. One group or two cannot claim EDSA People Power for themselves. It was not an exclusive yellow event, as some would like to describe it. It was a people power event, stress on the word “people”.
No less than VP Leni Robredo, the surest bet to win the May 2022 presidential elections recognized the significance of the 1986 People Power. A friend reminded me that in 2019, VP Leni told the people during the commemoration in Naga that it was not the “Yellows” who made People Power happen. Leni is right, it was the united people armed with political will who moved as one to kick out the Marcoses from power. “Laging natatatakan ng kulay ang celebration ng (They always mark with color the) Edsa People Power Revolution, but we know this celebration is not about the ‘Yellows’ and other groups, but to remember the Filipinos who sacrificed during that time for the freedom that we are enjoying now.”
EDSA People Power was also a moment when certain people and groups with vested interests switched sides, i.e., from the losing side to the winning side. The Marcos side was the sinking ship and rather than be doomed, they jumped to the people’s side, their lifeboat to safety, and some even remade themselves into “heroes” (and people thought they were genuine). But there were others who also found the courage to join their voices and march with the others to say “Enough, Tama Na.”
EDSA was not just a Makati event, nor an EDSA road event, even if it is the name used to describe the Philippines “shining moment”. Ito ang handog ng Pilipino sa mundo, ang pagkakaisa ng bayan para pabagsakin ang diktadura at patalsikin sila sa bansa. The son of the late dictator Marcos, Bongbong Marcos, Jr. should know this by now: if the Marcoses were the authors of the “Golden Years”, then why were they all kicked out and airlifted out of Malacañang? Why did Marcos Jr. and his family need to revise the history of the Marcos years to one of peace, order, prosperity, and all that fake news? Because Marcos Jr. desperately wants to go back to Malacañang with the current dictator’s daughter Sara, no matter what the lies and the cost.
We know that not all the dreams of EDSA 1986 were realised. Decades after EDSA People Power, the unjust structures and stronghold of the military and police remain in place, the problems of landlessness, subservience, poverty, militarization, culture of impunity, graft, and corruption remain our nation’s problems. The rich have become richer, the dynasties remain strong in the business of being in government, and the powerful have become even more powerful and deadly. EDSA became the endpoint, when it was supposed to be the beginning of a nation that puts the people’s interests first.
But we live and learn.
And that is why we are where we are today. The imperative for unity now has never been greater because the stakes have never been higher. Do we unite now to ensure that the Marcoses and the Dutertes are defeated and prevented from coming back to power? Can Filipinos inside and outside the country set aside organizational, political differences, personal agendas, and interests and come as ONE to link arms, march and organize together to move mountains in the face of the goons, gold, and guns and red-tagging of the other side?
EDSA People Power veteran Sister Mary John Mananzan of St. Scholastica’s College, in one of her many protest speeches, encouraged the Filipino people to “go back to basics” and build unities with different sectors. While history does not repeat itself (for which we must be thankful), we need to learn the lessons and legacies of EDSA People Power and use them.
We have the chance to do that. On February 25, 2022, at 7pm Vancouver time and date, Sister Mary John will help us remember the 1986 EDSA People Power. Just type the link: https://tinyurl.com/EDSA36 (or Meeting ID: 828 4313 2650 Passcode: 693082). The event is hosted by the Vancouver Coalition 4 Leni and Kiko together with event partners Bayan Canada, Malaya Canada,1Sambayan Canada Chapter and 1Sambayan U.S. Chapter.
Simple lang po. Ang pinatalksik sa EDSA, huwag nang ibalik pa. No to another Marcos in Malacanang!
Photo credit: BAYAN