Remembering Edsa People Power 1986

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By Fe San Juan Hidalgo

Citizen Fe

Monday, February 25, 2013

I AM privileged to have experienced events of the Philippine history as they happened (circa late 1930’s up to the present). One of the most memorable of these milestones is the Internationally Acclaimed Edsa People Power Bloodless Revolution of 1986.

The Filipino people experienced euphoria possibly unequaled till the present. I was then a professor in St. Scholastica’s College, Manila. This event happened from February 22 to February 25, 1986. I was glued to the television set every step of the tumultuous events while at home.

To keep track of the happenings, I bought a small transistor radio and carried it with me wherever I went. The then, Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, was calling all people to converge at Edsa near Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. Two high ranking military officers announced their abandonment of Marcos dictatorial rule. People came to Edsa in big groups from all corners of the metropolis and its environs.


I had an encounter with the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, where he was the graduation guest speaker when I graduated with my Masteral Degree at St. Louis University in Baguio, 1965, his first term in office. I listened intently to his speech lasting for more than an hour without any notes or prompter. I was so impressed. I heard about his very well-planned dream for our country. As he pinned my medal for my Cum Laude merit, he whispered to me — “Congratulations, I am sure you will be a good citizen of our country.”

Yes, I dreamed with him. That time, I also read the current issue of Reader’s Digest. I read about the Philippines as number two among the most progressive countries in Asia. These are all the opposite events which I had witnessed in 1986.

What happened? How did Mr. Marcos fail to fulfill his promise? Power breeds corruption came to my mind and his first lady was an active accomplish all the time.

This February 2013, we are celebrating the 27th Anniversary of Edsa People Power of 1986. Two million Filipinos with courage, faith, and resolve gathered in the streets of Edsa and its environs to demand that the dictator, Marcos, to step down.

After proclaiming Martial Law in 1972, there was widespread repressions of people’s rights, no freedom of speech, he manipulated legislative, judicial, and military branches of the government. I remember, my husband and I were apprehended in Session Road, Baguio City because we were in the company of the sister of Jose Diokno, an active citizen to fight martial law. The police officers were that strict.

In August 21, 1983, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was assassinated in the airport tarmac after arriving in the Philippines. Aquino was one politician well-loved by all Filipinos. I lined up under the heat of the sun in the patio of Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, the venue where Mr. Aquino may be seen by the people to pay their respect. I saw him with his bloodied face. He was wearing his Bonifacio style attire also splattered with blood. This was the wish of his grieving mother. Here, I saw a true hero.

Aquino was a threat to the dictator’s rule. EDSA people power bloodless revolution marked the end of the abuse of power and the beginning of a united struggle for a realistic political change. The dictator left with his family and fled to Hawaii. Corazon C. Aquino, Ninoy’s widow became the new President of the Philippines. One big lesson learned in this big event at Edsa is this. There is strength where there are righteousness and unity. Two million people from all walks of life prayed together and found strength and comfort from one another. There was euphoria. All were joyful, greeting one another, with the now famous L sign with their thumb and forefinger. This meant Laban or Love.

My first hand experience of this unique event happened February 25. With a brave lady co-teacher, we hitched a ride in the car of two strangers. One of them wore a colorful striped polo shirt. He showed us the morning newspaper and proudly told us that he was there with his shirt on. One of the numerous men who held on to an armored tank to prevent this from advancing towards the crowd. We passed the 7/11 convenient store and bought goodies, candies, and drinks in sachets. We walked near JUSMAG and a TV channel building in the side street. So many people there are all smiling and rejoicing. We gave them their snacks which were gone in a matter of minutes.

Mama Mary in the brink of a possible bloody confrontation, Filipino against Filipino, in what is now known internationally as People Power of Edsa. She showed herself in all her beauty and strength, manifested in a numberless change of hearts in every soldier’s bosom, the whip of wind which turned the other way to save numberless innocent civilians from tear gas, the war weapons, like the armored tanks, which miraculously turned about from the supposed targets. There was the spontaneous outcry of love and care instead of hate and animosity. The meekness melted an angered heart. The heated barrels of guns were silenced by the beauty and strength of rosary beads, fragrant flowers, and offerings of food. We saw the lifting of the peoples’ hearts and minds to God as one carried away with the inflamed devotion to the Almighty. The memorials to this event are the Statue of Our Lady of Edsa and the monument of People Power near White Plains.

All of us who witnessed this one-of-a-kind episode in our history should tell all the generations yet to come about this unforgettable event. Love for country and its people will swell in their hearts. When will we have this ideal political atmosphere the way politics are being practiced nowadays? Let us all work together to make this revival possible.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 26, 2013.


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