(Second of a series on ‘Retaking EDSA’)
HISTORIANS label EDSA as a revolution not for its being one, but for how it was named.
Thus, the act of naming became what constituted as a factual event, regardless of whether what transpired was factually a revolution.
The reality is that the power to name is a product of power politics. There was no consensus, and if we go by numbers, the people who went to EDSA and the parallel protests held in several urban areas, did not constitute a majority.
It is also a fact that the only movement that can rightly claim being revolutionary was even absent from EDSA. The forces of the armed Left opted out of what has been called a “revolution.”
This only strengthens the argument that the writing of history is determined by the perspectives of the elites, from the top and center, and that most of it are not actually about facts but about states of mind, or what the Annales historians referred to as “mentalities.” These are the general mindsets by which collective experiences of everyday life, such as EDSA, are mapped, configured and given meaning by a significant number of people. And “significant” doesn’t even have to be a majority.
And in a society controlled by post-Marcos elites, EDSA has become a narrative that is told from the perspectives of how intellectual and political elites mapped, configured and gave meaning to the events associated with the period. Thus, it is a partisan reading that has acquired the character of a fact, and any attempt to correct its misrepresentations would be considered as historical revisionism.
This is a phenomenon that is true even for the manner martial law was represented. The whole period of Marcos rule was represented through the “mentalities” of its so-called victims.
Our written history is full of narratives of pain and suffering of people who became the objects of martial law’s oppressive power. These were the dominant representations that were given space and words. There is scant attention given to voices that were affirmative, even supportive. These were not recognized as being legitimate experiences. And when attention is given, it was to diminish and dismiss these as remnants of a discredited loyalist voice, or as hateful revisionist assertions.
But there is a need to revise the way history is written and told. No one can dispute the fact that the universe of “mentalities” is not fully revealed. It will remain partial and unfortunately partisan. History was hijacked and turned into a franchise to which intellectual and political elites claimed entitlement.
There is much partisan storytelling being done about EDSA. The Aquino narrative has been given prominence despite the fact that Cory Aquino was merely its beneficiary, and was in fact hiding in Cebu for most of the uprising.
The real narrative is found in the voices of Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, two of Marcos’ lieutenants who incidentally implemented more directly the horrors of martial law. Their rebellion, motivated by personal considerations, is what triggered EDSA.
Unfortunately, their voices were earlier coopted into tactical collaboration with and were silenced by, because they also benefited from, the Aquinos and the pre-Marcos oligarchy which returned with a vengeance after EDSA.
The resulting narrative that was entrenched was one that silenced voices from the bottom and the margins. It was a narrative that was safe and profitable for the political elites to propagate.
There was scant attention given to the real motivations of people who went to EDSA, except to gloss over it and tell it as an expression of outrage. There is still nothing heard about the voices of those who stayed home, those in the provinces, at the political and physical margins.
There is also more to be uncovered about the absent voices of the armed Left.
More damning is the fact that there is very little analysis done to further probe the presence or absence of ideology in EDSA.
Instead, what we see is the deployment of the romantic view of EDSA as a peaceful people-power revolution. Yet, there is little attempt to curate and theorize about the views concerning EDSA of all types of ordinary people.
Ramos eventually became President, even as Enrile was pushed to become opposition.
And when Enrile came out with an entirely different narrative, he was readily accused of historical revisionism. This is from people who would rather believe the hearsay tales of Raissa Robles about a period in history which Enrile had more direct participation and knowledge of, and in which Robles had less or none.
There is so much to be done to correct the lies written about, and to reveal the hidden stories, of EDSA. And the challenge is to articulate those narratives hidden by partisan historiography. Fortunately, many people are now willing to take the challenge and reveal the other “mentalities” that were hidden and give voice to those who have been silenced.