Who killed EDSA?

Who killed EDSA? Featured

LAST week, the EDSA People Power Revolution was commemorated. Strictly not a “revolution,” having caused no systemic political structural changes, but in essence, it refers to the ardor of those four heady days in 1986 that fueled remembrances, holding the hope that someday changes would still occur.

Public reminiscences were muted. This is perfectly understandable as the intervening years produced regimes and leaders that failed its expectations, demonizing, instead, its memory. I am reprinting excerpts from my essays, blogs and Manila Times columns as I wrote them over the past 35 years.

‘I remember’ (23 years after the events, The Manila Times, February 2009):

“I was not at EDSA. There was no EDSA in Davao City. But I was part of the decades-long political struggle that eventually brought about the upheaval of those heady four days in February 1986; now known worldwide as the EDSA People Power Revolution.

“…This is a simple recounting from personal memory to answer an age-old conundrum ‘…where were you when it happened?’ Perhaps this is also a way of situating one’s role in the great episodes of the time. We hanker to be part of the momentous movements of history and even begin to presume that we may indeed have been a major participant thereof – when in fact, we simply may have taken on a minor role, bit players in an unfolding drama on the world’s stage. But it is this trifling part, when multiplied by the thousands, that makes the involvement of each of us anywhere within the stream of events singularly significant. In this way, our collective action becomes history-making. We need not have been (present physically) at EDSA ‒ we were the spirit of EDSA…

“…Our gut feeling then was that we were in a maelstrom of a life-altering political convulsion. Yet, we were in a quandary as to what we local people could do. Our immediate concern was how to protect Cory (who we thought was still flying into Davao from Cebu) from the Marcos minions).

“Somehow, an idea began to float about providing not only sanctuary to Cory in Davao, but organizing an armed resistance against the Marcos regime. Mindanao was so vast an area that it was possible to create a revolutionary government, headed by Cory. We looked upon Chito Ayala to bring this to the attention of Cory in Cebu, but by this time, she was incommunicado.”

Cory Aquino, who won the presidential election, was flying down to Davao that weekend from Cebu to campaign all over Mindanao and the other provinces in the country to protest Marcos’ election fraud. Her trip was canceled, and she sought shelter at a nunnery. In Davao, we had to abort preparations for an armed resistance as we were overtaken by the events of February 25 when the dictator fled to Hawaii.

‘I am EDSA – we are EDSA’ (31 years after the events, The Manila Times, February 2017):

“Today…31 years after, I am again putting on paper my thoughts; a little bit more appreciative and perhaps a little bit more dispassionate on the events that transpired – given the distance of years and the dissipation of emotions and passions that propelled us then to bring about this ‘revolution.’

“In 1986, President Cory never promised anything for the country except ‘…the abrogation of a dictatorship and restoration of democracy…” But the long-suffering Filipinos condemned under a systemic structural government anomaly for generations had their expectations way up beyond the capability of the ‘housewife president’ to satisfy.

“I was wrong on my expectations on the ‘restoration of democracy.’ What was restored brought with it the reestablishment of the rule of an oligarchy and the continued perpetuation of traditional politics, albeit with a new set of personalities.

“Many of us in the decades-long struggle for real democracy from the mid 1960s, adherents of parliamentary-federal structure of government, were enthusiastic in supporting Cory Aquino as she was our symbol against the repressive dictatorship. We understood too that she was from the elite, and her values, therefore, were of those of her class, but we were hopeful that she would transcend these with the outpouring of love and adulation shown by the masses – whose values were not congruent with hers.

“A few of us recruited to her administration implored her to continue to rule under the Revolutionary Constitution to give herself more time to dismantle not only the martial law structures, but the unitary system of government, which we then and still now believe perverted the principles of democratic governance. We were no match for the ruling class. Cory surrendered her prerogatives to real socioeconomic-political reforms by rejecting the people’s gift — the 1986 Revolutionary Constitution. She then proceeded to embed her dogmas in her 1987 Constitution.

“This is the Constitution, guarded zealously by her son, President PNoy, that President Duterte and we the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), the PDP-Laban and the majority of the downtrodden Filipinos want to replace with a federal-parliamentary system and a social market economy (SOME).

“These were our expectations. But what were the expectations, then and perhaps now, of the others who participated at EDSA in February of 1986?”

The Yellows and the Catholic Church
“We were all ‘Yellows’ then, as this was the color we wore after the assassination of Ninoy, symbolizing our protest against this dastardly act; and our struggle to boot out the dictator Marcos from power and institute real reforms. The masses that congregated at EDSA were a motley crowd of Filipinos from all walks of life, from the ordinary folks and some members of the elite and some from the oligarchic families dispossessed by the Marcos cronies; members of religious groups, Islam and Christians prominently headed by Cardinal Sin and the Catholics; we all had disparate motives but wielded together by a pent-up anger against the Marcos family.

“These are the antecedents of the old alliances of 1986 under the Yellow banner. President Duterte too was a child of EDSA, a derivative of its reshuffling. In Davao, ‘Nanay Soling,’ DU30’s mother and one of our leaders in the Yellow Friday Movement, begged off from her appointment as vice mayor OIC (officer in charge) to complement our PDP Laban OIC mayor Zafiro Respicio. Instead, she proposed her son. I was then deputy minister (undersecretary) to Minister of Local Government ‘Nene’ Pimentel, and with Davao industrialist ‘Chito’ Ayala, we brought his papers to President Cory in Malacañang. She did not know the Deegong from Adam, but he was appointed nonetheless. History is replete with such twists of fate.

“Millions of us were proud to be ‘Yellows’ then. The metamorphosis of the Yellow symbolism was a slow burn towards its demise caused by conflicted interpretations of EDSA during the Cory-FVR-GMA regimes. The killing of EDSA was a process. The final perversion came about when Cory’s son vied for the presidency, exploiting her memory and destroying her legacy. Like Caesar, many stabbed him. And like Brutus, PNoy delivered the fatal blow.”

But I am getting ahead of my narrative.

Next week: EDSA then and now000
Read 907 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 March 2021 11:21
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