EDSA and stealing a revolution



(Third of a series on ‘Retaking EDSA’)
EDSA was not a revolution. In fact, it stole from the people the possibility of a true revolution.

Some of its diehard believers argue even until today that EDSA was a successful revolution because it achieved its goals of ousting Marcos.

In addition to the problematic argument that EDSA was planned and hence it had a well-defined goal, you end up confronting the equally problematic implication of such a claim: that it was all about Marcos.

EDSA is imaged as a personalistic uprising to banish one man and his cabal, but never to exorcise our society of the debilitating effects of pre-Marcos oligarchic rule and all its structural embodiments that took root in how elites gained authority and power, and how such gained legitimacy.

This is precisely how EDSA unfolded. The elites hijacked the narrative of a people’s anger. The coup of Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos was not about the poverty and deprivation brought about by plundering cronies. Cardinal Sin’s call was to protect Enrile and Ramos from impending arrest. And Cory Aquino’s ascension to the presidency was not about peasants being given back their lands stolen by her cacique class, or liberating them from bondage. It was about her class taking an opening to retake its position as primary beneficiaries of an elitist political economy that was restored after EDSA.

Cory Aquino is painted as the bringer of democracy, when in reality she is the pawn of her clan and her class to make their interests safe and secure, and thrive in a post-Marcos Philippines. The very first thing she did was not to free the peasants from the land and uplift the working conditions of the urban poor. How could she? That would have meant working against her class interest, borne by her and embodied in that piece of land in Tarlac called Hacienda Luisita.

Instead, she immediately returned to the Lopezes their empire, for free, even if such had already been paid for by Marcos on behalf of the state.

And the elites painted this act as part of the return of democracy.

EDSA’s greatest crime to the Filipino people is that it stole the thunder from a growing social movement that directed its wrath against the structures of oppression which festered in Philippine society. The elite forces of restoration effectively painted over these simmering structural challenges with the mirage of a democratic society, of having a constitution and rituals of presumably free elections being a safer alternative to a bloody uprising.

Indeed, one can entertain the thought that perhaps the Filipinos are not predisposed to a bloody revolution. But certainly, EDSA took advantage of this to further cement elite rule now masked as democracy.

Part of EDSA’s narrative is the celebration of mythologies that further affirmed the logic of the lie to make it factual and true.

Ninoy Aquino was deified as a hero, even as later it was shown by a noted historian, Professor Ambeth Ocampo, that he may have even have had the predisposition to support martial law, and even harbored an authoritarian streak, and of wanting to execute corrupt officials.

There were attempts to elevate Cory Aquino to become the patron saint of democracy, bringing the idolatry to a different level when some of her sycophants initiated moves towards her canonization. Yet, declassified US intelligence documents point to a Cory asking the US to bomb rebellious military forces, without due regard to civilian casualties, one that not even the demonized Marcos would have done during EDSA.

The turning of lies into facts, which are clear examples of the early versions of fake news on a grand scale, was structural to the mythology of EDSA.

And the elites whose political fortunes profited from this mythology would continue to propagate this, if only to continue duping the Filipino people into believing that what we had was in fact a revolution that vanquished the darkness of Marcos and led us to the light of the Aquinos and the Liberal Party.

Noynoy Aquino won the presidency despite his being a non-performer because he was an Aquino. Bam Aquino became senator because he projected himself as a Ninoy doppelganger.

And the mythmaking continued even to people like Jesse Robredo who was deified as the paragon of good governance, without any attempt to investigate his own private sins and flaws Leni Robredo is now being projected as an able presidential material even with the glaring evidence of her lack of capability.

And then we have Leila de Lima being projected as an image of every virtuous woman.

The legacy of EDSA is in counterfeited history, excellence, virtue and heroism to sustain a lie that is safe for the elites who stole from the people the possibility of a real revolution.

Loida Nicolas Lewis summed up the mythmaking. It doesn’t have to be true. It just needed to look like that.

It’s about time we retake the EDSA narrative from these fakers.


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  1. Blowing of thick clouds ahead as the author labors it, will clear the path for future generations senses. The significance still significant after over 3 decades matures out. Cracks slow to notice big yet are working full time to return the order. The author neither to, mid, and pro his writing connects.

  2. Wow!

    This is exactly as I perceived it to be. EDSA as how it is being depicted now is not the EDSA that happened. The reason why it is called EDSA People Power because of the peaceful revolution of the true unsung heroes, the PEOPLE. And one more thing that was completely ignored is the fact that if the former strongman did not yield to the people, then it would have been a massacre.

    It was never about the Aquinos, FVR, JPE, or Cardinal Sin. It was an uprising of the people and the so called dictator yielding to the will of the people in order to prevent bloodshed. Thats about it. And then the Aquinos came and used the opportunity to be installed into power. The so called Democracy was actually the rise of oligarchy. The people are so naive to think their political leaders who opposed the Marcoses did it for the people. They failed to realize that these politicians re-claimed EDSA as their own, celebrating this every year with famous characters relevant to the uprising, not necessarily significant but just related.

    But EDSA should be celebrated, however, to give back the glory to the people who stood up to the dictator and not to celebrate their fake leaders. And this should be highlighted to the people.

    Anyhow, whoever is in power will always rewrite history. Just like the truth about Emilio Aguinaldo who was depicted as a Philippine hero, the story of Ninoy and the Aquinos will eventually come out in the open. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but it will come out.

    • Dont forget, only 2 million went there in Edsa supposed to support the removal from power of Marcos, the rest of silent majority might not have shared the same sentiments. as Im also seeing old videos where the supporters of Marcos sometime after his removal, also did their own rally, and their numbers cannot be underestimated too, but was not highly covered by Oligarchs media that time who swore alliance with incompetent the housewife Cory, remember the Edsa 3 of Erap, its just like that, ring a bell. The only way we would have know of the majority of sentiments, was if there was a valid actual Election after Edsa, and not just appointment or grab of power of Cory. See it all loud and clear, its wrong in everything. that event should not be celebrated, it did not do good for the country, but put the Filipinos in shackles for 31 years, where only the few benefitted, but worsen the country’s progress, now it lagged behind its neighboring countries today. What’s wrong with Philippines politics is, the country has vicious political oppositions, because of personal ambitions they dont see beyond and only see their pockets and greed for power. Im sorry for Marcos, he is a fallen Hero just like Bonifacio, he was betrayed, he was not able to weigh the viciousness of his opponents, like they are ready to destroy the nation for personal gains, in colloqual terms its “crab mentality” keeping the nation backwards and not moving forward to the glory it truly deserves!

  3. Rene Pamintuan on

    A real revolution would have resulted to far greater and deeper social and political changes specially for the striving masses. But that is not the case. The results would speak for themselves. The last thing the Aquinos would do, and in fact failed to do despite 30 years in between two Aquino presidencies, is to give out to the farmers and masses their share of the Hacienda Luisita. That speaks volumes.
    Meanwhile the rich became richer, while the poor became poorer. EDSA could have resulted to a more equitable existence in our society, but that didnt happen. It didnt because the directions were not meant for that, but to gratify the ruling lords of high society into farther wealth gathering, political and economic control, and the use of a captured media to create more legends and myths.
    It was not a revolution but a change of Oligarchic controls. We became mere pawns to make that happen, thanking them as they mesmerized us with mythologies and legends that a captured media glorified and imposed on a hapless people.

  4. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the Filipino people can let someone like Marcos back into their hearts even through taking down his opponents. But hey, there are plenty of abused people who keep coming back to their partners. If the Philippines wants another Marcos then keep these trends going.

  5. How mistaken you are, you can fill a whole book with all the national development projects by Marcos, sabotaged by insurgency or the yellow blooded oligarchs. These were dismantled or mothballed like the BNPP, while the other Pres. Marcos or Imelda projects were re-named Aquino, ang kapal talaga nila.

    Besides Marcos was already old and sickly and quite frankly getting soft when he lifted Martial Law. So the vultures took a shot at grabbing power, known as the EDSA coup. Blame the Church militants that we believed back then. But not anymore, they have been exposed as the politically power-hungry neo-prayle Damsaos that they truly are. People realized that they have been misled by an aptly named Cardinal Sin.

    These same forces are hoping to try the same trick against Du30 this coming EDSA day.

  6. I followed the EDSA revolution and it indeed was nit a revolution but a self preservation move of Enrile, supported by Ramos. The call of Cardinal Sin was to protect the two nit to support a war. People went to the streets because of that call. As he wanted to perpetrate power for him and his famiky, Marcos was very sick and he already had lost the grip of government. Where was Cory? She was sheltered in a convent in Cebu, and she was nit in the forefront of the revolt…..

    • A cardinal with birthright name of Sin was in decisive hurry during those struggle to pick a sinner or sham saint idol. Cardinal prefers the sham saint and delivers it to the media and crowd. If he had volunteered himself to lead then safely its liturgical mission could had advanced. It would be a theological government in transition. It wouldn’t be anymore of a mob rule, junta, and much more than the street or roadway revolution offering it back to the oligarchies. Cardinal despised that sickly dictator so to idolize a saint dictator in the making to take over.

  7. Yes we should commemorate EDSA, after all Epifanio Delos Santos was one of the greatest Civil Servants in Philippine history, if also a collaborator with the Americans invaders.

    Remove all those fake heroes that have nothing to do with EDSA, Cory Aquino(s), Cojuancos, FVR, Enrile, Honasan, cardinal Sin, the Roman Church and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and all those duped into believing we were fighting a people power revolution, including myself.

    Celebrate EDSA the way it was intended, for the civil servant(s) who it was named for.

  8. Yes! This is the time to correct the EDSA myth and take it back from the hypocrisy they espouses all this time! Dont let the yellowtards to succeed and retake what is not theirs in the first place.

  9. Yap! No EDSA! thats bullshit… we did not won democracy, that “edsa” generally made the Filipino living even worse. . massive judiciary backlash for the poor.

    They can make any worse plan or moves just to sustain into the power & endurance in longevity over the top.

    “Kill that bastard & we will be still on top” Thats too sad, till now their mouth were glued, effortless to spread who are the real engineers of the certain assassination.

  10. I witnessed EDSA in the 80s as a senior in college. At that time, I was anti-Marcos and a leftist although I have never believed that Marcos, a brilliant statesman, would be behind the assassination of Ninoy since I also was privy to the fact that he warned Ninoy not to come back because of a possible assassination that he knew would be blamed on him just like what happened with the bombing of Plaza Miranda that I also thought at that time was Marcos’ doing. Anyway, after experiencing the revolutionary government of Cory which was also a dictatorship on a smaller scale by the way, I cringe at the main media’s labeling of her as the icon of democracy. Oh please…just because she was the president after Marcos doesn’t make her an icon of democracy but maybe she can be relabeled at the icon of democrazy. I was fooled once. Never again!

  11. Excellent article of the real impact of EDSA. The people were used and the elites were returned to power.

  12. Thank you Prof. Tony for making this crystal clear. Removing Marcos and installing themselves in power was the agenda of the Aquinos and Cojuangcos! It was never the agenda of the Filipino people. The agenda of the Filipinos was inclusive prosperity which in 1986 had already been achieved by Japan, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. Today, 31 years after the EDSHAM revolution, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan are well ahead of the Philippines in terms of inclusive prosperity. Even in the province of Tarlac it is only the Aquinos and Cojuangcos who enjoy prosperity. Tarlaquenos are poorer after two Aquino presidents and several senators, congressmen/women and governors from the Aquinos and Cojuangcos.

    • But Marcos could have transformed our country into a more progressive one with all his power during martial law period. He squandered that opportunity by his abuses and corruption which triggered the EDSA incident in the first place. Which means that Marcos was ultimately responsible for giving the Aquinos and followers to be in power after his departure. I don’t think the big crowd who went to EDSA would have happened if the people were satisfied with Marcos. I believe the people willingly went to EDSA primarily because they wanted to end the Marcos rule and NOT because they like the Aquinos.

    • red planet on February 23, 2017 4:46 pm

      How mistaken you are, you can fill a whole book with all the national development projects by Marcos, sabotaged by insurgency or the yellow blooded oligarchs. These were dismantled or mothballed like the BNPP, while the other Pres. Marcos or Imelda projects were re-named Aquino, ang kapal talaga nila.

      Besides Marcos was already old and sickly and quite frankly getting soft when he lifted Martial Law. So the vultures took a shot at grabbing power, known as the EDSA coup. Blame the Church militants that we believed back then. But not anymore, they have been exposed as the politically power-hungry neo-prayle Damsaos that they truly are. People realized that they have been misled by an aptly named Cardinal Sin.

      These same forces are hoping to try the same trick against Du30 this coming EDSA day.

    • @Protacio, you’ve been MK ultraed, meaning you’ve been fooled, you’re wrong, what squander are you talking about when all major infrastructure in the country is his own doing and most of those facilities are still in operation today, we still use it like Hospitals PGH, NKI, railways like LRT, etc even MRT and the Cs road were conceived during his time. Except for Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was discontinued by Cory because of personal grudge. Marcos still has many plans for the country, like creating flood gates along Laguna de Bay to Pacific so Metro Manila will not be flooded, well obviously it did not happen so year after year Metro Manila is getting flooded during monsoon season. But because of continued detractors and vicious oppositions or crab mentality, he was taken down, and resulted in nightmare where for the last 30 years Philippines progress lagging behind our neighboring countries. The kinds of leaders like Marcos comes only once in a blue moon, its regretful that unprincipled oppositions was his downfall, if social media was around during his time, the people who truly supported him could have done something to correct the lies and not fall for bias reporting and media controlled by Oligarchs.