EDSA People Power 1986 redux

EDSA People Power 1986 redux Featured

TODAY, while Covid-19 may no longer be as lethal compared to the past 25 months or so when the Grim Reaper stalked the land harvesting 6 million souls worldwide, our fear of death has subsided, leaving us simply to mourn our loved ones. In time, that too will fade and only the scars of the healing wounds will remain. But the protocols imposed by Covid will somehow linger, altering our behavior and our "concept of normal" for the foreseeable future.

Back home from my vacation-cum-Omicron exile in America, I am confronted with an issue still relevant, particularly to the presidential elections — referring to the last days of February 1986. Its peculiarity revolves around how people perceive and treat events over time, just like our Covid experience, particularly the propensity of Filipinos to adapt to the changing realities, altering details of their own stories to conform to those changing narratives.

People Power uprising

The same is true when it comes to the changes in our perceptions of the events of February 1986, which for the past three decades many of us have hailed as our narrative and memories of the EDSA People Power Revolution (EDSA1). Thirty-six years is more than a generation and half of the participants on both sides of the divide are gone. It is perhaps better for our society that those partisans are now being replaced — by attrition — by the young who have their own stories to tell. And these young Filipinos who have no intimate connection to EDSA1 will nevertheless have to navigate the political crosscurrents generated by the remnants of EDSA1.

The ghosts of EDSA1 are still alive in those few holdouts who are now back to carve their own little stories from our histories and memories projecting the same as "the truth." The main protagonist of course is the son of the deposed Ferdinand Marcos himself who was ignominiously booted out by the original "yellow forces" in 1986. And I can't blame the son for crafting his own narrative. He may well be in a position to proffer his own version to vindicate the family name if he wins. It is obviously the primary duty of a loyal son. It is not the same, however, for the opportunists who must alter the narratives on the whims of political fortunes.

The opportunists

Juan Ponce Enrile is such a one, now 98 years old, who at 62 deserted his mentor, friend and sponsor Ferdinand, now changing his tune, along with Gringo Honasan vying for another term in the Senate. The actual events at EDSA1 would not have happened on those heady days of February 1986 were it not for their bungling with the help of a cabal of the colonels of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). Enrile, Honasan and the RAM provided the trigger.

Were it not also for the call of Cardinal Sin for the people to mass and protect these mutineers, they would have been kaput. And the timely infusion of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) under Gen. Fidel V. Ramos gave a much-needed boost to the mutiny. Cory was not at EDSA during the breakaway on February 22, a Saturday. She was in Cebu for a rally of the original Yellow forces and on her way to Davao the next day. But make no mistake, the EDSA1 phenomenon was a culmination of a cowed people's anger over the injustices and repression of martial law. All these were embodied in a frail woman, a mere housewife who acknowledged she was not meant to lead — but fate and circumstances intervened to elevate Cory as the leader and symbol of a hopeful masses.

Several years after the euphoria of the uprising had subsided and a modicum of normalcy descended upon the people, we had the luxury of introspection. Cory has always maintained that her role was simply to reestablish normalcy upon the "restoration of democracy" ushered in by EDSA1, although many of us in the struggle against the dictatorship, years before the appearance of the Aquinos, had expected more. I wrote then:

Promises unfulfilled

"Many of us in the decades-long struggle for real democracy from the mid 1960s. adherents of the 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 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 to 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 socio-economic-political reforms by rejecting the people's gift — the 1986 Revolutionary Constitution. She then proceeded to embed her dogmas in her 1987 Constitution.

Original Yellows vs Dilawans

"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 ordinary folks to members of the elite and some of 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 pent-up anger against the Marcos family."

"Some of us are no longer Yellows today. Our perception of EDSA1 and our role in it runs counter to what is now being peddled, mostly by those from recent past administrations. For us, EDSA1 is not an Aquino family franchise, nor just a mere booting out of the Marcos family. And it is not a narrative of entitlements of two families.

"For many of us, EDSA1 was a decades-long seething anger against poverty, injustice and the dominance of traditional politicians and their allies in the oligarchy in the economy and throughout the political structures

"The final capture of the color Yellow was consummated upon the serendipitous exquisitely timed demise of the EDSA1 icon when an opportunistic son rode on the people's residual love and nostalgia to win power. Yellow from then on came to symbolize his own vengeful and exclusive 'Daang Matuwid' regime, metamorphosing into Dilawans. PNoy, in his brimming arrogance, tried to exact from the people who once took part in the EDSA revolution, a certain sense of loyalty and adulation similar to that shown his mother. He failed.

"This May, we may have either the Marcos son or the Aquino successor at the helm of power...or another one instead. Poetic justice dictates then that at the very least "vice is punished and virtue rewarded in a manner ironically appropriate."

Choose wisely!

Read 532 times Last modified on Wednesday, 02 March 2022 11:58
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