• #EDSA30: In defense of EDSA 1986

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    Second of two parts
    The first part of this column reminds readers that EDSA 1986, that moment when Filipinos boycotted crony corporations and went out to the streets in defiance of a dictator, ready to face tanks and almost certain death, has become so skewed, so muddled, by patronage politics and political bias.

    It also proved to me that there is even more reason to talk about EDSA, the better to understand our behavior for or against it, the better to pin down who is at fault really, for the post-EDSA state of the nation.

    EDSA 1986’s freedom
    Everyone – the left, right, center – tends to blame EDSA 1986 for things that it cannot be, was not at all, responsible for.

    The task at hand for EDSA 1986 and People Power, was to get the dictator to surrender, get him to leave Malacañang. The task was freedom. On the page, and for all intents and purposes, freedom was restored.

    Which is to say that sequestered properties were given back to the families like the Lopezes, which is to say that television and radio could finally go back on the air, without the risk of being taken off the air if they are too critical of government. Which is to say that people could walk the streets, deep into the night until the wee hours of the morning, without fear of being arrested for breaking the curfew.

    The freedom that EDSA1986 gave us allowed for television shows that were fundamental to the nation’s political education. That freedom allowed for political talk shows after the evening news: Randy David and Louie Beltran, Dong Puno and Jullie Yap Daza, Teddy Benigno and Oscar Orbos.

    Sure, in the beginning the tendency was to be kind to Cory Aquino and her government – it was after all just getting its act together, and certainly after 14 years of Martial Rule, even the media needed to find its rhythm, so to speak.

    One remembers how it was at this time that we got to listen to original Filipino music on freed FM radio: Neocolours, Ogie Alcasid, Dingdong Avanzado, The Dawn, alongside the critical-hilarious stance of APO Hiking Society (long before the current version of Jim Paredes). There were newspapers and tabloids and magazines, and these could be critical if they wanted to be.

    I was growing into adulthood in a space where we were free to think what we wanted, and create what we felt like, there was AM and FM radio, there was music and books and publications, there was television. People were thinking and creative, and one could feel it in culture.

    And it was only possible because of EDSA1986. It only happened because of People Power.

    If that is the thread that we follow, then the only reason this column exists, the only reason a newspaper like this can exist, the only reason you might be reading this online, is because of EDSA 1986.

    This is why I celebrate EDSA.

    Real freedom
    Of course 30 years hence it is clear that what the people got post-EDSA was a specific kind of cultural and political freedom that did not necessarily mean the alleviation of poverty or the end of inequality.

    We knew this by January 22 1987, when the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas with other activist organizations marched to Malacañang to demand genuine agrarian reform, and clashed with State military and police. Thirteen activists would die that day, allegedly from shots fired by the Marines (if you are to believe Alfredo Lim).

    We knew this as soon as Cory Aquino revealed her haciendera colors, and made sure that her family’s Hacienda Luisita would remain untouched by the land reform that she was imposing on everybody else.

    We’ve known this all these years, because we’ve seen how elections don’t change nation, because those who win, year-in year-out, are the same people, the same names.

    And certainly five years of Noynoy Aquino has ruined democracy for us even more. Because democracy has become nothing but a campaign slogan, and freedom became nothing but a strategy. One that banks on numbers and statistics that are contradicted by life on the ground.

    Then I realize that at least I have the freedom to think that. That at least I grew up in a space that has taught me not to fear thoughts that are contrarian, not to fear thinking that goes against the grain. At least I have the freedom to write, and speak, even when I know of so many journalists who have died exercising that freedom.

    We are to blame
    That kind of impunity – the killing of journalists, the disappearance of activists, the displacement of the Lumad, the militarization of their communities – that is not the fault of EDSA1986.

    The elite’s continued domination of our political hierarchy, the corruption of government officials, the dysfunctional systems of government, the patronage politics – that is not the fault of EDSA1986.

    All the questions that militant activists ask of EDSA 1986, all the assertions that they make about what has happened since … those are not questions to ask of EDSA1986.

    Those are questions to ask of us. Because really, post-EDSA1986, what did we demand of government? What did we demand of ourselves? How do we take a stand on issues: do we continue to look at people and their names, versus their ideas and track records?

    Post-EDSA1986 did we learn enough to vote differently, to vote not for the elite and wealthy? To vote not based on personalities, but based on programs and platforms? One remembers Jovito Salonga losing terribly to Cory’s anointed Fidel Ramos.

    Post-EDSA 1986 has our media leveled-up the discourse, and matured to the point of playing a fundamental role in forcing us all to open our eyes to the injustice in nation, and push us to act on these injustices? Are media truly independent, or are they in the pocket of a politico or an oligarch, or both?

    I don’t know that we have a lot of questions about EDSA 1986 still, the history has been written, history is clear about what happened on those four days in February 1986. We have a lot of questions for us, for those of us who have survived it, and have stopped asking questions about nation, have stopped digging deep enough about issues, have stopped … thinking really, about where we stand in the greater scheme of things and the changes that we have yet to see in nation.

    But of course we don’t like turning upon ourselves.

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    12 Comments

    1. Amnata Pundit on

      If its a choice between dictators and hypocrites, I will choose the dictators anytime.

    2. Don’t just rely on what u read on PDI or information you watched on ABS CBN, the people you talked to who lives in Makati, you should spend sometime going out and see the real situation of this country, that was brought by the system after EDSA!!

    3. I believe that a variation of the present state of affairs would exist even if Marcos was never elected.
      It is the nature of Phil politics. The economic set back to tens of millions of people must not be forgiven or forgotten but it is difficult to swallow the thought that “if only there was no martial law, everything would be fine”, just as much as “if there were no EDSA everything would be fine” is difficult to believe.
      Things would be a little better, but “fine”? I doubt it. My point? EDSA allowed the return to a variation of the natural state of Phil politics after Martial Law temporarily set it aside.

    4. parang may mali…

      ABS-CBN was sold by the Lopezes.. may letter po ang mga lopez sa Pres. Marcos madam.. pero ibinalik ni Cory ng ganun ganun na lang..

      Anyhow it’s already been given back to the Lopez without any return of payment..
      May mali pa den.. di po ba dapat ang mga networks was the one providing the people ng mga TOTOONG balita?? hindi para siraan ang mga taong kalaban ng mga pinapaboran nilang indibidwal?? yan po ang ginagawa ngayon ng ABS-CBN.. kaya po may mga nanawagan na iboycott ang network na to..

      Curfew?? What’s wrong with it if it will make you safe?? Even parents are doing this to their children..
      Curfew was a tool to determine who are the ones doing criminal acts..di po ba ang mga akyat bahay gumagawa ng pagnanakaw sa kalaliman ng gabi? right??

    5. The irony that this columnist still “celebrate” EDSA1986, even after writing about the atrocities of the EDSA “heroine” and the effects after the said revolution

      While it is very obvious that the downfall of the Philippines was caused by EDSA1986, this columnist want to shift the blame on the leaders of post-EDSA, without even checking that most admins (except Erap) were all allies of the Aquinos, who benefitted the most out of EDSA1986.

      And BTW, try to walk in Metro Manila alone from late night to dawn. Let’s see if you can still survive going home safely. It is “safer” because there’s no more curfew you say?

    6. Hija, one of the very first act of quo rhee upon assumption of office was an act of graft. If you do some research, ABS CBN can not pay its loans to DBP so it was foreclosed. It just so happened that the foreclosure was done during martial law. But before martial law, it can not pay its loans already and was even given ample time for redemption. It even tried to sell it and get whatever it can even if it would be crumbs already since a foreclosure would leave them nothing. For quo rhee to return a foreclosed asset owned by the people, DBP being the bank of the government, is an act of graft.

    7. Delusional! hahaha, wake up Girl, lalong naghirap ang mga tao dahil sa Edsa revolution of the elite and of the easily duped masses like you!

    8. Yes, the only freedom EDSA 86′ has brought is the freedom of the communist organization to be subsidized by the government. Not just subsidized but some are receiving government salary and PDAF and DAP because they represented their organization as Party-list. What a shame you call these as FREEDOM.

    9. Fast forward on

      He he was it really really PHil people power or imperial Manila power remember ther wher about 65 million pop how many join say 10 million or less what about as in the province , we never been consulted FYI

    10. EDSA30: The evil revolution that brought death and destruction!!! Shame on you. What freedom you’re talking about? As of today more journalist being killed, more activist being kidnap and murdered, criminality and lawlessness are running amok! How dare you to celebrate… Filipinos realized now that life is much better in the “golden age” as New York Times say so.