by: Bejamin Pimental
Reposted from Inquirer.net
The uprising could have turned into a bloody tragedy. And to be sure, there were close calls, including the now-famous face-off between protesters, led by nuns, and soldiers backed up by armored personnel carriers.
But incredibly, perhaps miraculously, the ranks of the forces opposed to the dictator held.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, I actually don’t recall feeling afraid during those sleepless four days. Worried at times, yes. But as the saying goes, “Fear is contagious, but courage even more.”
For that was truly a genuine moment of courage for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Not the swashbuckling, macho type of courage. But something deeper, more deeply-rooted—the courage of a people willing to stick together and face whatever a bully had to offer.
It’s fashionable nowadays to lament that the changes many Filipinos expected from Edsa never materialized. The country has continued to reel from poverty and mind-boggling inequality. The political system is mired in debilitating corruption, driven to paralysis by one of the most shortsighted and greediest elite classes in Southeast Asia. Disillusionment with government, and with politicians, is widespread.
People have reason to complain, to become discouraged, even disgusted with those who took over after we kicked the dictator out. There are so many things that still need to change.
Partly because of all these, I was actually going to just let the Edsa anniversary pass without any comment.
But then comes the late dictator’s son, now vying to be senator, publicly proclaiming Edsa a “failure”
“My family and I could accept Edsa 1, but if there have not been any changes and the Filipino people continue to be poor, I’m sorry to say but I cannot accept it,” Bongbong Marcos has been quoted as saying.
Now I may be somewhat sympathetic to someone who denigrates a historic uprising that unceremoniously booted him and his family out of the country.
But we simply can’t let a statement like that stand without challenging it. In any case, Marcos Junior may have just done us a big favor. He just reminded us why Edsa was a good thing, and why we should continue to celebrate it.
Reason No. 1: We were able to kick out a dictator!
Edsa put an end to a 21-year nightmare when a bully and his cronies ran amuck in our country.
It put an end to a time when Filipinos were constantly afraid of saying or doing anything that may offend the regime—and that actually was seen as normal.
It put an end to a time when political leaders and their families could amass unexplained wealth, and that was considered just part of being in power.
Sure, there’s still fear, corruption, and political abuse. But only a fool, or a crook who cashed in during the time of dictatorship, would argue that the Philippines would be better off being run by a bully who thought he had the right to stay in power forever.
In any society, there will always be issues that were once debated heatedly, but which have been put to rest.
That’s true in America where people once debated, and even fought a war over, such issues as whether citizens should have the right to own slaves, or whether women and minorities should have the right to vote or hold public office.
That’s also been true in the Philippines.
And I’d argue that Edsa should put to rest at least one important issue. The uprising must serve as powerful reminder of the most important lesson from the Marcos nightmare: That dictatorship is wrong. That one-man rule—or one-party rule—should be rejected, and never, ever be accepted as a way to run a country.
There may be many debates on other issues—over the best form of government, or the right balance between development and environmental protection, or the most effective way to fix the economy.
But the key lesson of Edsa should not be obscured by the myriad of problems the Philippines is struggling with at present.
It would have been great if Edsa had led to the dramatic eradication of poverty in our country, or the steady dismantling of oppressive structures in society. But, during those four days, the chief goal, the main aim of the Filipinos who came out during those four days to defy Marcos was to get rid of a dictator.
And guess what, Mr. Marcos—They did it.
So Marcos Junior is wrong. Edsa did not fail. It was a resounding success because it accomplished an objective that many Filipinos actually believed could never be reached.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos acting as one defeated a bully.
That’s a victory still worth celebrating, worth remembering every year, and telling our children and grandchildren, so that we can, at least, put that issue to rest forever, and move on to the other important problems.