By Fidel V. Ramos
Former Philippine President
(Last of Two Parts)
“Whereas, on 25 February 2018, the country will commemorate the 32nd Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, which restored and ushered political, social and economic reforms in the country…..” – Proclamation No. 269 of President Rodrigo Duterte, 17 July 2017
“Mayor Sara recalled her eight-year-old self, 31 years ago, how President Duterte woke her up to be part of Davao City’s version of the historic nationwide event. ‘On the evening of 25 February 1986, my father interrupted my slumber and told me to get dressed because we have to go downtown. He told us: Timan-i ninyo ning gabhiona ni. Ayaw ninyo kalimti (Remember this night. Do not forget this)’.” — From “No One Has Monopoly of EDSA Spirit,” Manila Bulletin, 25 February 2017
Taking off from our column titled “EDSA People Power Anniversary 2018 – First of Two Parts” (Manila Bulletin, 11 February 2018), we restart by invoking the powerful “Spirit of EDSA.”
There are many valuable lessons to be learned and mistakes to be avoided from our People Power Revolution of February 1986. True enough, regime change was achieved non-violently through the power of the people. Filipinos, however, should no longer count on “People Power” confrontations to effect future structural changes because these could be violent and bloody, and lead to civil war with the AFP/PNP fighting the AFP/PNP.
INSTEAD, AS CONCERNED CITIZENS, WE FILIPINOS MUST NOW STRENGTHEN OUR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS, EDUCATE/MOTIVATE OUR PEOPLE TO BE COMPETITIVE IN THE WORLD, AND REINFORCE OUR SOCIO-ECONOMIC COHESION AS A TALENTED, COOPERATIVE, PATRIOTIC, GOD-LOVING PEOPLE.
UNITY, SOLIDARITY, AND TEAMWORK
IN OTHER WORDS, TO ACHIEVE A BETTER FUTURE, FILIPINOS NEED TO BE ARMED WITH THE QUALITIES OF UNITY OF PURPOSE, SOLIDARITY IN VALUES, AND TEAMWORK IN NATION-BUILDING.
The Spirit of EDSA emanates from the Filipinos’ act of unselfish caring, sharing and daring for the common good – of believing that significant change could be achieved through lawful but courageous acts and decisions. Our People Power Revolution at EDSA could have ended in massive bloodshed. But, by God’s merciful wisdom, the 1986 EDSA crisis was resolved peacefully – and triumphantly – resulting in bloodless regime change that restored our democracy and civilian supremacy.
Still, many wonder: “Why did EDSA in February, 1986, happen? Why did more than a million people, armed only with their convictions, democratic faith, and God’s protection, defy overwhelming odds – the threat of tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships, fighter planes, and combat troops which could likely inflict sudden death or grievous injury?”
The answer simply is this: we gathered at EDSA and made our stand against dictatorship because we loved freedom, and were tired of the political system imposed upon us. We wanted our freedoms back plus a better future for ourselves and for those after us.
The Spirit of EDSA teaches us that every citizen – poor or rich, young or old, lowly or elite, Grade IV dropout or Harvard Ph.D, can make a vital difference by respecting the law, paying our taxes, raising a proper family, and helping those in need.
Whoever today treasures the Spirit of EDSA must first internalize it by doing some positive acts to CARE, SHARE, and DARE for others. Those in authority now – wherever they were in February, 1986 – should today champion the SPIRIT OF EDSA, and spread it by word and deed, especially to younger Filipinos. This means taking actions that enhance, not diminish, our democracy; curb corruption and cronyism; undertake poverty alleviation and social reform; and insure justice is delivered to the suffering and powerless.
The Spirit of EDSA does not belong only to the past. It belongs to the present and to the future. The Spirit of EDSA, indeed, belongs to all time. Like it or not, our People Power Revolution at EDSA is a continuing revolution – an unfulfilled vision we must win without further loss of time and goodwill.
ON THE OTHER HAND, OUR GREATEST LOSS AND THAT OF OUR POSTERITY WOULD BE OUR FAILURE TO IMPART THE VALUES OF THAT TRANSCENDENT 1986 EVENT TO OUR LEADERS WHO NOW BEAR THE TORCH OF RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY, AND ALSO TO YOUNGER FILIPINOS.
THE ‘SPIRIT OF EDSA’ UNIFIED AND STRENGTHENED FILIPINOS
AT THIS POINT IN HISTORY, WE RECALL THAT THERE ARE THREE SHINING MOMENTS WHEN FILIPINOS COLLECTIVELY FELT REALLY INSPIRED AS CONCERNED CITIZENS. THESE STOOD OUT AS LIFE-CHANGING BLESSINGS THAT RESONATED ACROSS SOCIAL CLASSES AND GENERATIONS EVEN TO FAR AWAY MINDANAO.
Take Mrs. Soledad “Nanay Soleng” Duterte, a public school teacher and PDU30’s beloved mother. Nanay Soleng had passed away at age 95 on 4 February 2012. In a parting tribute, Davao City Councilor Arnolfo Ricardo Cabiling affirmed: “Nanay Soleng was the soul and inspiration for good governance and public service….. being Maka-Diyos for her dedication to God, Maka-Bayan for fighting a dictatorship and helping Filipinos regain our democracy, Maka-Tao for her love of humankind, and Maka-Kalikasan for her defense of nature and the environment.” (“Get To Know Rody Duterte’s Mother,” asiandragonmagazine.com)
No anecdote about those proud four days is more vivid than what General Jose T. Almonte AFP (retired) recalls in his book, “Endless Journey – A Memoir” (2015), with Marites Danguilan Vitug, to wit: “Retired General Romeo Espino, AFP Chief of Staff during the Marcos years until 1981 [longest tenure in AFP’s history], was with us at the (rebel soldiers’) command center, which was FVR’s office in Camp Crame. I noticed that for three days, all he did was sit on the same chair, as if he was glued to it. He rarely stood up. Together with Gringo Honasan and Red Kapunan, we approached him.
“’Sir, you have been sitting there for the last few days. If you need to go to the restroom, we will guard your chair.
“His answer surprised us: ‘If Marcos bombs this office and I am in the restroom, all of you will die and I will still be alive. Don’t you know that this is the best time for a soldier to die?….”
THESE FILIPINOS – GENERAL ESPINO AND NANAY SOLENG – WERE AMONG OTHER CONCERNED CITIZENS RESISTING MARCOS’ OPPRESSION WITHIN THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES, PLUS THE MILLIONS THAT CONVERGED AT EDSA AS PRAYER-WARRIORS AGAINST ATTACKING LOYALIST FORCES. ALTHOUGH THE PEOPLE WERE MOSTLY STRANGERS TO EACH OTHER, THE “SPIRIT OF EDSA” UNIFIED AND STRENGTHENED THEM TOWARDS A COMMON PURPOSE.
THREE SHINING MOMENTS IN PHILIPPINE HISTORY
SINCE BECOMING A NATION 120 YEARS AGO, FILIPINOS HAVE STRIVED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM, ENDURING PEACE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – TOWARDS A BETTER FUTURE TO BE SHARED BY GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS.
These three defining beacons in Philippine history should guide Filipinos – the revolutionary Spirit of 1896 at Pugad Lawin; the patriotic Spirit of 1942 at Bataan and Corregidor; and the liberating Spirit of 1986 at EDSA.
Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros’ “Cry of Pugad Lawin” when they tore up their cedulas (tax certificates) on 23 August 1896 was the spark that lit the flames of the Philippine Revolution against Spain.
More than 70 years have passed since WWII. The Bataan Death March took five excruciating days – in the scorching summer sun, and without life’s barest necessities, it may as well have been eternity. Many fell from sheer exhaustion, wounds, disease, hunger, and cruelty. Others died in the Capas Concentration Camp under horrible conditions. War, of course, has always been the worst of man-made disasters. Long ago, a sage observed, “in peace, the sons bury their fathers; but in war, the fathers bury their sons.”
The 1986 People Power Revolution at EDSA was not just a four-day phenomenon, neither a one-day commemorative event each year. EDSA straddles several generations of heroic struggle. EDSA is part of a continuing revolution – one fine block added over the years to the never-ending task of nation-building – an unfulfilled vision that Filipinos must win and continue to sustain. Its most significant outcome is the opportunity to infuse our people with new resolve to make the Philippines better than before.
FILIPINOS SHOULD TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN THAT, IN RECENT YEARS, THE COLLECTIVE POWER OF COMMON PEOPLE AND OUR SPIRIT OF EDSA TOUCHED OFF SIMILAR UPRISINGS – FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE AROUND THE WORLD – IN THE MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, EASTERN EUROPE, AND LATIN AMERICA.
RAISING AWARENESS AMONG THE YOUTH
EVERY YEAR, WE CELEBRATE THE PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION WITH A GATHERING OF LEADERS, SOLDIERS, POLICEMEN, FAMILIES, STUDENTS, AND ORDINARY PEOPLE AT THE EDSA PEOPLE POWER MONUMENT (“SALUBUNGAN”) AND AN EARLIER WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY AT THE LIBINGAN NG MGA BAYANI TO HONOR FALLEN WARRIORS, LAW-ENFORCERS, VETERANS, AND NATIONAL “EMINENTS.”
BUT, BEYOND ALL THAT, DO WE REALLY TRY TO REMEMBER WHY THAT TRANSCENDENT, GOD-INSPIRED EVENT HAPPENED?? AND DO THE YOUNGER ONES, PARTICULARLY THOSE BORN AFTER 1986 WHO MAKE UP A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF OUR POPULATION TODAY (AND MANY OF WHOM ARE NOW PARENTS THEMSELVES), UNDERSTAND WHY THE EDSA PEOPLE POWER REVOLUTION HAPPENED???
SURELY, RESPONSIBLE FILIPINOS MUST EDUCATE THE YOUNGER ONES!!!
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