People Power 25th Anniversary
Today, Filipinos celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EDSA REVOLUTION, which brought the Marcos regime to its knees. On 25 February 1986, Filipinos peacefully won freedom from oppression and neglect by the conjugal dictatorship perpetrated by the Marcoses for two decades. Today, Filipinos can be proud of a legacy of revolution by peaceful means through People Power, the force that restored democracy to the Philippines.
(And as if in salute to the 25th anniversary, authoritarian regimes in the Middle East are falling one by one, each one through sheer people power.)
But after 25 years, how far have we really progressed? What has this freedom afforded us in terms of peace, development, unity, progress?
For 25 years we have endured incompetent, spineless, corrupt government officials, who have unconscionably squandered what the people achieved in 1986. We have had good leaders, too, but they were few and far between. We have even witnessed the likes of heroes in our midst, but their voices seem to have been drowned by the din of apathy.
Do young Filipinos, who were born after the Revolution, know why those of us who bore witness to the peaceful uprising are protesting against Ferdinand Marcos being interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani? Do they understand our anguish over the absurdity and audacity of this demand by the family of the deposed dictator? The explanation should be simple: We revolted against, and ousted, an overstaying president, who plundered the national coffers and tyrannized his opponents. And now there are people who want him to be accorded state honors?
And since we’re on the subject of the Marcoses, what about Imelda? She has been convicted by the Supreme Court for crimes against the Filipino people. …What in the world is she still doing unincarcerated? Are we so blind?
Are we, in fact, not responsible for transmitting our history to the next generation? Twenty-five years are an awfully long time to still be at the bottom of the global socio-economic food chain. Maybe it’s because we as a people have such a short institutional memory, that we forget the lessons of the evil past and thus keep getting ourselves mired in it?
We are a free and democratic state today because of our victory on Edsa that fateful February day. We should forever remember this, lest we unwittingly allow a repeat of the Marcos era. We must not forget, because in truth, we are not yet free from the more insidious evils that plague our country. The 21 years in which Marcos ruled the country brought about a pestilence of corruption and greed, and this has kept our country ailing — economically, socially, politically. Even after 25 years, we are still “the sick man of Asia.”
Early this month, a group of politicians, public officials, businessmen, artists, activists, development workers, journalists, educators, from almost all walks of life, from varying backgrounds, religions and cultures, gathered as one in Antipolo City to re-imagine the Philippines. I was fortunate to have been invited to participate in this unique meeting of minds, called reImagine Pilipinas Bukas. We were challenged with this one question: After another 25 years, where do you imagine the Philippines to be?
Nobody expected to arrive at any prophetic answer. But after three days together, the achievement was clear: as one people, unmindful of ethnic, religious or whatever differences, we can again accomplish our common goals through people power. Not the ‘people power’ that was distorted by subsequent so-called popular uprisings. What we need to realize is that the Filipino people is made up of different communities with different belief systems and histories. But we all do call ourselves Filipinos, and we all do aspire for prosperity and well-being. We can start from there, and proceed with the goals in mind and the tenet of People Power in our hearts.
Maligayang bati sa kaarawan ng Rebolusyon sa Edsa! Mabuhay ang Pilipino!