#EDSA30: In defense of EDSA 1986

12

First of two parts

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I am part of the generation that benefited from the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

I know only of living in freedom and democracy. I know only of a free press and a mother who wrote for broadsheets and political tabloids ala Pinoy Times and Isyu. I grew up with political talk shows hosted by Randy David and Louie Beltran, Dong Puno and Jullie Yap Daza, all of whom dared critique government and the state of the nation.

I grew up with writers who could write what they pleased, no matter how political.

But also I grew up in the State University in the 1990s. I met people who were later disappeared, captured while doing work in the provinces, jailed on trumped up charges, illegally detained without the benefit of a lawyer or phone call to family.

I started going to rallies during Ramos’s government, I was part of EDSA Dos during Erap’s government, I started blogging during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime, I started writing this column under Noynoy Aquino’s government.

Do I write without fear? Of course not. But I also know that it’s entirely possible that I’m not seen as a threat, that I’m that token critic that government likes to hold up for all the world to see, so they can say: Look! we’re not mad at critics! There’s freedom in this country!

The promise of EDSA1986
But that’s the thing: there is freedom in this country. That was the promise of EDSA1986 after all. It was the promise of freedom from a dictator, the promise of getting back our democratic rights to free speech, assembly, and press.

To me, this is what we celebrate every year, regardless of whether government makes a big deal about it or not. We celebrate that in 1986, people came out to the streets to defy the dictatorship, and no one organization can take credit for it. We celebrate that 30 years ago, Filipinos dared leave their homes and go out to the streets, knowing full well that tanks could mow them over, or that the dictator could order them dispersed – as violently as they had known it to happen.

Thirty years since EDSA1986 though, so many have taken to questioning its importance and value, without realizing that it makes us complicit in EDSA’s forgetting. Because you can complain about a younger generation not knowing enough to actually care about EDSA1986; but do we help at all by refusing to work with the facts about EDSA, by refusing to actually ask the questions that are important to its understanding?

Case in point: Malacañang celebrated EDSA30 with President Fidel V. Ramos, but Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was nowhere in sight, and neither were Senator Gringo Honasan and Vice President Jojo Binay.

Malacañang is not alone in this re-writing of history. The Marcoses have been going all out trying to discredit what was achieved by EDSA1986. And yet there are also the re-writers of history who become unlikely Marcos allies, including the militant Left and mainstream media, who question EDSA1986 for promises it did not make, and demanding that it be more than it ever set out to be.

In the process of questioning EDSA1986 beyond all that it sought to do, the millennial who couldn’t care less about it, is given even less reason to care. After all: if the sectors we are supposed to trust cannot get its act – or its national history – together, why even imagine any given event to be important at all?

The boycott and #EDSA1986
Every year, what I’ve found worth celebrating in fact, is not just the freedom and democracy that I enjoy; but also the fact of the boycott pre-EDSA. To me, this was people power, too, when Filipinos did civil disobedience like it has not done again. Sure Cory was the one who called for it. But it was the people who made it happen. A day after the boycott:

“Crony banks, corporations, and media were hit hard by the boycott. Deposit withdrawals were reportedly heavy not only in the seven banks in Cory’s boycott list but also in banks either partly or wholly owned by known Marcos cronies. Nestle pulled out its ads from government TV Channel 4 and newspaper Bulletin Today. San Miguel-A shares went down to as low as P11.50 per share, while B shares went down to P14.50 per.

“The financial fiasco extended to the beverage industry. Beer quaffers suddenly shifted to gin or hard drinks. Restaurants, eateries and cafes refused to serve San Miguel beer as well as Coca Cola, Sprite and Royal True Orange. A small number also stopped drinking Pepsi Cola, Seven-Up and Mirinda, thinking that these softdrinks were also under the control of a crony.” (EDSARevolution.com, Before EDSA)

Five days after the call for a boycott, there was:
“<…> a total of P1.78 billion in withdrawals from crony banks and the Philippine National Bank, Security Bank & Trust Company, Republic Planters Bank, and Traders Royal Bank. The first to get their money out of the crony banks were groups belonging to the clergy; in Union Bank, the clergy represented at least 12 % of its deposit base. As a result, deposit upsurges were recorded in Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, and Citibank. Bulletin Today, the country’s largest circulated newspaper (circulation 350,000) trailed the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malaya, and The Manila Times. Rustan’s department store was empty; most of its customers moved over to SM Shoemart, Anson’s, and Robinson’s.” (EDSARevolution.com, Before EDSA)

The build-up to the four days of EDSA1986 included this boycott. There is no understanding the importance of EDSA1986, without acknowledging how people power was able to take down these companies and corporations. It was a take down that was set to continue, had the dictator and his family not left Malacañang, four days into EDSA.

This is what I know about EDSA1986. It was about regaining freedom and democracy, but also it was about a united people revealing awesome powers. And this is what makes me hopeful about nation. EDSA1986 allows me to believe that at some point, when it is most important, Filipinos will know to do people power again, and this time around it will demand not the superficial shifts from one leader to another, but will demand that systems change, enough to finally change Filipino lives as well.

That should be our promise to EDSA1986 though, not the other way around.

Next column: Martial Law, EDSA1986, and post-EDSA Philippines, and the question of what has since happened.

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12 Comments

  1. I prefer to read the comments than the article. It gives me correct and reasonable information and sentiments of Filipino people.

  2. oy day, ang edsa 1986 ay ara burahin ang kataksilan ng mga aquino sa bayan : benign aquino nung oanahn ng hapon, aquino na pumatay sa loyals ng antonio luna.

    para pihgilin ang pagdidistribute ng lupa,ng mga maayayaman sa mga mahihirap dahil un na ang giangawa ni marcos

  3. Seems as if this Girl was cosseted and wore blinkers to the fact that just as many perished under Cory Aquino and Aroyo’s corrupt terms all in the name of hanging onto what they had robbed from the Common people’s, Bare Footed and Pregnant comes to mind…. It would be interesting to hear her points of view on the Asian Dollar proposal ?

  4. Ms. Writer, please read the article of Sir Tiglao today…

    Check your history too madam writer. Edsa 1, was not the beginning of democracy in the Philippines. But edsa 1 was the beginning of MASSACRES….!

    YOU ARE WRITER, YOU SHOULD KNOW……!

  5. You seemed to exposed one of the reason why the economy collapsed during later years of Marcos regime. Thank you for the confirmation of this info at paragraph 14.

    The Yellows SABOTAGED the economy to bring it to its knees (via boycott). And then the Yellows made it appear that IT IS BECAUSE OF MARCOS that the Philippines is collapsing.

    This is very similar strategy used to SABOTAGE the economy during Erap’s term, by starving our dollar reserves.

    The usual LiES of the Yellows are becoming more obvious.

  6. Just to remind the writer that most if not all of those incarcenated or disappeared are members of so called front organizations of the CPP-NPA. The CPP-NPA is likewise doing psychological warfare by doing salvaging their own people so the military can be blamed. These has been exposed by their own top commanders who surrendered during the time of Cory. One of these is Kintanar who was likewise assassinated when he made the mistake of exposing the meeting of Joma and Ninoy in Forbes Park residence where they planned to bomb the Plaza Miranda meeting de avanse of the Liberal Party which Ninoy was the secretary general that time and which made himself conveniently absent from that very important political campaign meeting. Ninoy’s reason is that he is attending the party of Doy Laurel, a Nationalista, at the Jai-Alai
    Following the point of view of the writer that thousands were killed, tortured and disappeared during Martial Law, then, why don’t they charged the members of the Military who are involved? Why don’t they charged Fidel Ramos who was in charge of the Constabulary and Enrile who was the Defense chief at that time. Doing a rebellion against Pres Marcos does not absolve them and other military members of these crimes, if it really exists. I’m pretty sure that those who implemented those orders, if true, are the lieutenants before and are most likely colonels or generals by now or newly retired top ranking officers.
    Why are they not running after these people? Is this issue about Martial Abuses are all for propaganda purposes only which cannot really be prove in the courts of law? Is this just like Ninoy’s murder which the Cory and Pnoy does not want to open and oftenly used deliberately for their own propaganda purposes?
    I think it’s high time Filipinos should question the validity of these charges of Martial Law abuses and Marcoses ill-gotten wealth because none of these charges has been proven after 30 years and no family of Pres Marcos has been sentence because of these charges. In fact, Imelda was charged in US with violation of RICO law and evidences pertaining to this case were provided by Cory’s government whch even Cory assured the public that Marcos will be convicted because of the stric American Justice system and because of the overwhelming evidences they provided. Salonga and company even coordinated and collaborated with the American lawyers in this case to convict Imelda. After months of marathon hearing, Imelda was absolved.

  7. Hardly true freedom of the press when you have the unenviable record of the country most dangerous for journalists, assassinations are wide spread.

  8. “But that’s the thing: there is freedom in this country.”

    Freedom from what? Freedom to despise traffic laws, that’s why Metro Manila residents criticized former MMDA Bayani Fernando accused him of treating them like cows for putting fences in EDSA because we just cross the streets whenever they want?

    Freedom to turn on our videoke until dawn disregarding our sleeping neighbors?
    Freedom put on loud speakers on our cars as if we own the streets? Anyone who lived peacefully during Marcos years can enumerate the huge difference of today and the Martial Law years.

    On the contrary, what we’ve got is only the freedom of the press to express whatever comes to their mind. Freedom of those what want to go to the streets and express their sentiments against the government minus the fear of being arrested.

    What did that illusion of “freedom” brought us today? The most important thing to learn from EDSA uno and dos is that we can throw any government we dont like if we mobilize a large number of people. Other than that, nothing more.

    So 30 years after EDSA, ask yourself where is the Philippines now with that illusion of “freedom”? Sabi nga ni Dong Abay ng Yano, “Kumusta Na?”

  9. We have a free press? Sorry,but you seem to be at a lost denying the fact that in almost 6 years of Pnoy in office,more than 60 journalists and broadcasters alike were gunned down trying to tell the public what is happening in and around the country. The worst number of crime involving people working on broadsheets,radio and TV killed in the history this nation have ever seen.All in all,if you will include all the administrations that followed after Marcos was deposed,and including this administration,there were almost 200 deaths that was reported,reason why journalists all over the world was calling for an end to this impunity happening in the Philippines. And let me remind you also,that,all of this is taking place while every other administration after EDSA 1 were telling our people,the public,that that our freedom had been regained and that freedom of speech had been returned. Now,the 69 dollar question every Filipino should ask is,are we really free? Did the essence of democracy and the freedom to assemble,to speak and to write (as we please) really present and is in effect? Did we lost it (freedom of speech) before EDSA,or is the same,before and after the 1986 revolution as the yellows are bragging. Are journalist being killed or gunned down by the hundreds during the Martial law days? Are Filipinos being denied of their freedom to assemble and to denounce Marcos before and during the Martial rule? Were rallyists being denied access to assemble at Mendiola or in any other place they want to? If the answers to all the questions i raise are all YES,then probably you were right.But if the answer is a decisive NO,then we ought to ask ourselves if we are better off today,30 years after EDSA,than who we are and how we were living our lives during the Marcos years…I for one knows how awry and sorry how the Philippines have become since that day of INFAMY in 1986…Worst,people who are against Marcos,for what their reasons are,continue to have a blind faith into what the Cojuanco/Aquino clan and their communist and oligarch friends and co-conspirators have promised and lied upon for 30 years and counting…Time to wake up and move on for the betterment of our country…

    • Totally agree with you

      The Filipinos, right now, is not really “free”. We are far from it

      So many Filipinos were treated like slaves. Working so hard and paying very high taxes. We are denied with the most basic needs that the government was required to provide. Everything, from services, security and justice. And all of these are not “free” either. You must pay for every permits, clearances and licenses.

  10. jeff jaramillo on

    Unfortunately, the type of people and activities of those who disappeared or incarcerated during martial law years were neatly omitted by this writer.

    Assuming that there were hundreds of people who were jailed or whatever type of punishment during those days, please take the number of people who are jailed this year and compare it to martial law years, then you will find out that martial law years is far lenient to lawless people

  11. “I grew up with political talk shows hosted by Randy David and Louie Beltran, Dong Puno and Jullie Yap Daza, all of whom dared critique government and the state of the nation.”

    That proves there is freedom of speech then, that politicians against Marcos could air their grievances against the government and have intelligent discourse on tv shows, any political issues. that’s why our mind was poisoned and began to despise the Marcoses. But now we know better.