Thursday, February 24, 2011

Twenty five years ago at EDSA

At EDSA in front of Camp Crame.
Twenty five years ago, in the midst of the peaceful revolution on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in front of the gate of Camp Crame, somebody picked our pocket. Using today's spending econom, the contents were not much.  The wallet came back to us by mail some time during those euphoric days after Ferdinand Marcos, his family, and his trusted cronies were flown out from Malacanang Palace to Honolulu, Hawaii, contents all gone except for our residence certificate and company ID.  The sender, a Protestant minister, said he found it in a gutter on EDSA.

At EDSA fronting Camp Crame.
We were too busy with the camera, and with so many revolutionaries milling around during that bright, sunny 25th day of February and getting into multiple body contact every so often, we would not have noticed somebody's sticky fingers dipping into our back pocket.

Food and water for the soldiers.
One people.

It was not a heavy price though for the victory that came afterward. We soon forgot about it when word got around that Macoy has fled, and we were on board a fraternity brother's Volks Beetle honking down the avenue exchanging victory shouts with other sweat-drenched, exhausted yet ecstatic souls along the way.

One with the people.
The EDSA Revolution, People or People's Power Revolution, or Yellow Revolution remains to us first and foremost a military rebellion. If the mutineers did not get caught, and people did not heed the call of Cardinal Sin via Radio Veritas to go to Camp Aguinaldo then to Crame to shield Defense Secretary Juan Ponce-Enrile, Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos and secessionist Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) military elements, a truly civilian people's uprising could have taken longer to happen.  True, Corazon Aquino was going around the country for the disobedience campaign, but she could not have ignited a people's rebellion that rapidly even if her voters were seething in anger over the results of the fraudulent February 7 election, the 29 NAMFREL canvassers having walked out of their job, and the Batasang Pambansa declaring Marcos the president-elect.

We are pleased to note that the role of the military in 1986 was recognized yesterday when the EDSA revolution museum at the defense department was inaugurated by President Benigno Aquino III with Senators Enrile and Honasan and former President Ramos were in attendance. After all, the military rebels were the ones who ignited EDSA.

It's really time to cast off the yellow magic spell. We should not forget why there were coup attempts during the yellow regime, or why brown-outs came about to ruin our economic agenda for many years.

The battle ground was as far as the eye could see.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan was on its final pre-operational tests and the nuclear fuel was all set for loading into the core when Malacanang ordered that it be shut down for good. That exacted a heavy toll on the Filipino people; they continued paying the multi-million dollar loan for it through many more years.

Neighboorhood associations on the march.
That yellow dictum was particularly painful for people like us who trained very long--here and in the United States--to operate it safely. We look at the BNPP today as symbol of government folly--folly of those who ruled that it be mothballed--more so now that the nuclear option is again on the legislative agenda that includes, among others, the use of the Napot facility.

Even the handicapped were in the thick of the rebellion.
There was no immediate replacement of the nuclear plant, and the existing power generators became severely inadequate to meet increasing electricity demand.  Thus began those infuriating brown-out years, something that the romantics, we suppose, conveniently forget in their glowing recollection of the aftermath of the EDSA revolution.

Cardboard encampment for the EDSA rebels.

Democracy working equally for all such as in the access to education and health services; economic well-being and poverty alleviation; good governance and elimination of graft and corruption--we dreamed of these 25 years ago, and we still do today. 

Student activists doing their street theater act near ABS-CBN on Bohol Ave.
Did we fail the Revolution under four presidents--Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?  Will we succeed under Benigno Aquino III?  The majority of our people voted for him because they thought he has the strong moral courage to lead it.

1 comment:

  1. i was there too! armed with coffee and pandesal to nourish us and banig to lay on. staring at machine guns pointed at us from hovering helicopters.
    left our house, not knowing if we ever were gonna come back.
    that was the sacrifice we made, all of us who were in EDSA that fateful day, twenty five years ago.
    and so today, seeing the events that took place in the span of 25 years, we ask ourselves, was it worth the sacrifice?