(Last of a series on ‘Retaking EDSA’)
YOU can only fool the Filipino people for a while, but not for long, not for 31 years.
There is a limit to the power to weave myths, and tell lies. Such power has an expiration date. And it appears that such has expired.
When the people decide to throw away the moralistic holier-than-thou attitude of the elites, one that for a long time had held the power to paint the narratives of a country according to their liking, and not according to the people, then it is a sign that people have had enough.
EDSA was imaged as a revolution against the dictator Marcos. In fact, most political scientists saw it as a transition from authoritarian rule, rather than a transformation of the structures of authority and the ideologies that governed such systems of authority.
But when an overwhelming number of people, 16 million of them, perhaps even more, if votes were really counted honestly, decided to vote for a man who did not hide his preference to give Marcos the burial that he deserved as a former President, then we know that the myth has unraveled.
And more significantly, when even the son of Marcos, his namesake, garnered millions of votes, and finished as a close second in an election so tight the results of which remain contested with telltale signs of fraud, then we know that the so-called EDSA revolution has failed.
It was actually inevitable.
The revolutionary moment which EDSA was supposed to be an integral part of, as embedded in the aspirations of the First Quarter Storm, the urban workers’ struggle and the peasant movement that emerged during the rebellious times of the 1970s, was arrested by a mentality that painted the political transition as one that rooted all pain and suffering to the dictatorship of Marcos, and Marcos alone.
This effectively left the structural roots of the people’s misery unattended to. Worse, the post-Marcos political and economic elites, with the cooperation of the intellectual elites who framed society’s ills in a two-dimensional fashion of “Marcos is bad, Ninoy and Cory are saints” narrative, have even replanted the seeds of inequality and exclusionary hierarchies.
Another EDSA happened, where the elites again mobilized to take away power from someone they painted as the enemy of the people. Erap Estrada who rode to power on the strength of his identification with the masses became an inconvenience for the elites, and once again they moved to take him out, again with the help of the people.
But the second EDSA was more blatantly opportunistic in character. It was nothing but a naked move by the elites to rearrange power to install someone who was more directly one of them. It was nothing but a continuation of the pattern of elite machinations that appropriated people’s anger to turn a power grab into allegedly a people power.
The people eventually saw the lies and unmasked the myths.
And President Rodrigo Duterte is a child of this awakening. He is nothing but a consequence of people’s realization that they have been duped into thinking that the two EDSAs happened so that their pain can be assuaged and their suffering lessened.
It did not happen.
Six years of another Aquino have exposed in clear terms the lies and the deception, of how image and mythmaking have been deployed to create an illusion. There was the hope that the Cory Magic that was able to hide the Luisita and Mendiola massacres would be inherited by her son to hide his smiling face during the Luneta hostage crisis, his ineptness during the Mamasapano tragedy and his lack of sympathy during Yolanda.
The post-Marcos elites are hoping that their magic tricks will still mesmerize the people.
But the magic to weave myths and tell lies is gone.
As we speak, forces against President Duterte are once again relying on political theater, with staged revelations of a perjured witness and contrived hysterics of a discredited senator, aided by the usual tactics of her colleague, a failed coup plotter, designed to once again whip up a storm of people’s anger enough to lead them to another EDSA.
But things have changed. The people are now retaking the revolutionary moment, one that is no longer singularly commanded by the elites, even beyond the armed revolutionaries from the Left, but by an amorphous power that flows through cyberspace, waged by unpaid social media warriors.
Ranged against the elite EDSA are celebrations of awakened peoples, at the Luneta, in many places in the country, and even in other countries, wherever there are Filipinos who have had enough.
For now, they have placed their faith on a cursing, probinsyano President to bring them the change that they have aspired for and desired.
And the elites have to understand this. They have had their time. Today is the time of the people. The elites should better stand aside and stand down, or suffer the consequences of the people’s wrath.