CEBU CITY: President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday morning led the first ever commemoration of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution at the Cebu Capitol grounds in Cebu City, tracing the peaceful revolt’s roots in this central Philippine province.
President Aquino ditched his prepared speech and his teleprompter and immediately answered the question why the celebration was held in Cebu, 28 years after the revolt that toppled a dictatorship and catapulted her mother, the late president Corazon Aquino, to the presidency.
”Bakita ginawa sa Cebu? Bakit hindi (Why hold it in Cebu? Why not)?” he said.
President Aquino said the first chapter of the EDSA revolt started in Cebu.
He recounted that when he came to Cebu in 1983 after the assassination of his father, Philippine hero senator Benigno Aquino Jr., he saw no sign of the dictatorship.
”Parang malaya na ang Cebu (It seemed Cebu was already free),” he said.
Cebu was then the bastion of the opposition against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
A group called the Pusyon Bisaya, led by firebrands like the late Natalio Bacalso, Bartolome Cabangbang of Bohol, lawyer Valentino Legaspi and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., the father of Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, defeated the entire slate of the administration party in the 1978 elections for the Interim Batasang Pambansa.
President Aquino also recounted that Cebu took care of her mother during the early stages of the EDSA revolt.
The then Mrs. Corazon “Cory” Aquino spoke at a rally at the Fuete Osmena in Cebu City on Feb. 22, 1986, announcing the start of a civil disobedience campaign when then Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos and then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile defected to the opposition in Manila.
Former Cebu City south district congressman Antonio Cuenco, who believed Mrs. Aquino was a target of government agents, hurriedly ferried her and daughter Kris to the monastery of the cloistered Carmelite nuns in Mabolo, Cebu City, where they were joined by incumbent Cebu City north district Rep. Raul del Mar and supporters.
EDSA, President Aquino said, was the symbol of the Filipinos’ love for his fellow Filipino.
”People went to EDSA not for any personal gain,” he said.
He said it was a symbol of the unity of the Filipinos and there is no challenge that cannot be surmounted for as long as the Filipinos are united.
President Aquino sat on an uncovered stage under the mid-morning sun in front of the Cebu Capitol together with some dignitaries during the “Salubungan” or the reenactment of the meeting of civilians and solidiers in the EDSA revolt.
Among the dignitaries were Gov. Davide, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Cebu Reps. Raul del Mar, Luigi Quisumbing, Rodrigo Abellanosa, Wilfredo Caminero and Samsam Gullas, Secretaries Mar Roxas, Paquito Ochoa, Herminio Coloma, Corazon Soliman, Voltaire Gazmin, rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson and Rene Almendras.
Yellow balloons made into a ribbon were released at the end of the ceremonies as the crowd of thousands sang the iconic song “Ang Bayan Kong Pilipinas.” PNA