Today marks the 26th anniversary of EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, the national highway in Manila, Philippines) People Power Revolution.
The Philippines was under the dictatorial and authoritarian ruling of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. who served as president of the country for 20 years. The EDSA Revolution led to the end of his regime and restored democracy to the Philippines. To know more about EDSA Revolution, click here.
The 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution was the culmination of the Filipinos’ disgruntlement over the corrupt governance of President Marcos. This awakening process of the Filipinos started in 1983, with the assassination of Marcos’ erstwhile foremost critic and opposition leader, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., father of current Philippines President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, III, also known as P-Noy. It led to the country’s economic downfall and eventual bankruptcy.
The Philippines and the United States are very close allies. With prodding from Washington, a presidential election was held on February 7, 1986 declaring Marcos as the winner over opponent Corazon Aquino, wife of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. There was reportedly massive fraud, irregularities, cheating and tampering of the electoral votes.
The Filipinos couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the declaration of Marcos as President. With representatives from civilian, political, military, and religious groups, two million Filipinos marched to EDSA in protest. The four-day revolution ended with the departure of President Marcos and his family to Hawaii, upon prompting of President Ronald Reagan and with the assistance of the U.S. government.
Watching history unfolding from a distance
I was not in the Philippines when the revolution happened. I was in the U.S. attending a work-related training. I had just flown in from New York to San Francisco. I had a scheduled flight back to the Philippines on the day that the revolution started.
It was so frightening to watch the dramatic unfolding of the historic events on TV. No one had any certainty on how the revolution was going to end. How long will it last? How many lives will be sacrificed? What’s going to happen to the Philippines?
My father joined the millions who marched to EDSA. He was a civilian who had military connections and had some access to the inside stories. So he had a pretty good grasp of what was going on.
I remember distinctly how different the picture was that was being painted by the U.S. media compared to what my father was telling me. I was petrified watching the news. Yet he reassured me that it was actually a joyous event and didn’t even feel like a revolution at all. He even strongly encouraged me to go back as soon as possible in order for me to experience the joyous celebration and be part of a monumental occasion in the history of the Philippines. Still, I decided not to fly back to the Philippines. I took the first flight back to New York and stayed with my cousins while awaiting the Philippines’ destiny.
Who would have thought?
Twenty six years ago, who would have thought that the Philippines would see the day when the Marcos regime would be toppled down? Twenty six years ago, who would have thought that the Philippines, a patriarchal society, would one day install a female President? Who would have thought that 26 years later, the son of the man who proudly and bravely proclaimed that “the Filipino is worth dying for”, would one day be commissioned with the daunting task of cleaning up the mess of regimes past.
Yes, EDSA Revolution led to the proclamation of the Philippines’ freedom from oppression and restoration of democracy. Sadly though, widespread corruption continues to find its way into the Filipino way of life and consciousness.
But I am an eternal optimist and there’s always hope.
During the proclamation of P-Noy on June 30, 2010, I had a déjà vu experience. The energy of the event was so similar to the proclamation of U.S. President Obama two years prior. Who would have thought that the United States would one day proclaim an African-American President?
On both occasions, I was having chills, I was crying tears of joy, and I was so full of hope. And after having lived through six presidents, as I watched P-Noy take his oath and march along Quirino Grandstand, albeit a little bit awkwardly I must say, I proudly claimed, “That’s my President!”
I had just come back then from my four-year sojourn in Northern California and P-Noy’s proclamation was very reassuring and comforting. Admittedly, I initially doubted his capabilities given his lack of experience. Yet I realized then that not being a seasoned politician is in fact his asset more than his weakness. Seasoned politicians can easily maneuver their way through the halls of corruption and effortlessly stay on the path of abuse of power.
Following P-Noy’s proclamation, Jeannie Javelosa wrote the article, Our Aquarian President, on July 2010 in her weekly column, A Spirited Soul of the daily Philippine Star. She described how the planetary positioning and astrological influences were so in alignment with P-Noy’s astrological natal chart, as well as the day of his proclamation.
Jeannie describes P-Noy as “a radical idealist who will try to make practical the ideal, and to bring the vision of change to a reality”. She added that while “he is a late starter, and will need time to gather some steam, he will get there and we, the people will just need to prove also that we are there with him for the positive changes we all seek”. Click here for the article.
The Philippines certainly has a lot of catching up and cleaning up to do. But this task is not and cannot be the sole responsibility of one individual. Even if that individual happens to be the President of the nation.
The future and recovery of the Philippines, or any country for that matter, cannot be left solely on the hands of the nation’s leader. The hierarchical model of leader-follower is very Piscean, the age that we are moving away from. It can no longer fit in the Aquarian Age which is characterized by freedom, equality, empowerment, transformation, collaboration. Old models and systems simply do not fit in. Today, no one can deny the global shifts taking place, with old structures and systems falling apart.
As I said, I am an eternal optimist and there’s always hope. This may not be shared by many of my countrymen but I just know that change is inevitable. Those who resist it will be left behind, fall away, and fall apart together with the old models and structures. Those who embrace change, will be part of the new society, new culture, new consciousness, new world. And only an Aquarian President, like P-Noy can effectively usher in the dawning of the new.
And as we celebrate the 26th anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution, may we always bring to our awareness the promise of freedom and change, and strive for the fulfillment of that promise. Generations to come could and would then proudly say, “Our ancestors dreamed of a nation that’s free and driven by equality and integrity. And now we are enjoying the fruition of that dream”.
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