A day of reflection

GO NEGOSYO - Joey Concepcion - The Philippine Star

I can clearly remember the day, Feb. 25, 1986. The series of massive protests against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos culminated in the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas. Thousands of people flocked the area, armed with only prayers and rosaries in their hands. Chanting words of freedom, singing songs of nationalism, and crying for the end of oppression. This is the People Power Revolution of 1986. The bloodless revolution that returned democracy to the country.

Last week, we celebrated the 31st anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea chairs the EDSA People Power Commission and I serve as the vice chair and representative from the private sector. In a simple mass and celebration in Camp Aguinaldo, we commemorated one of the significant moments in our history.

With the theme, “A Day of Reflection: Celebrating People Power for Nation Building,” we are reminded of what the Philippines has become 31 years after.

In a short message, I shared my thoughts on how we can continuously celebrate the real essence of EDSA.

“First of all, we welcome all of you to the 31st anniversary of People Power. It’s been 31 years, and today, we are surrounded by a lot of heroes who brought about People Power Revolution. I was assigned as a co-chair about seven days ago, and without the help of Chris Carreon this event would not be possible. So, I would like to congratulate him.”

“In a way, if we look back, I was 27 years old when EDSA happened and my father was 54 years old. I find myself in a unique position being vice chair to ES Bingbong Medialdea in this commission. I don’t know if my father realizes that I’m up here on stage. Somehow he has lost part of his memory, but he is the one who instilled in me the love for the country.”

“Many of you here today surely loves this country. I remember when it all happened here in EDSA  – then general Fidel Ramos, Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, Gringo Honasan and many others here. That was the beginning of the spirit of EDSA. When I was asked, do I regret what happened during those times? For all of us it was the best experience we should never forget. When we toppled the dictatorship, it brought Filipinos together as brothers and sisters. Military and civilians were not shooting one another. It was truly an admiration to see this event happen, and we were well respected all over the world.”

“But, I know, many of us still question if the spirit of EDSA is still in our hearts. It is only yourself who can answer that question. When Benigno Aquino was assassinated, which sparked the revolution, my father started NAMFREL. During those days, he had the impossible dream that one day this country could eventually become a great nation. But one of the reasons why we chose this day to be a day of reflection is because we really have to look back to the past and see how we can move forward. I know that sometimes, it is very hard to forgive. But, we must try to forgive but never forget. There is a big difference in forgiving and forgetting. We must move on to build and to continue the spirit of EDSA and pass it onto the next generation. Your generation is gradually moving on and my generation is entering that next phase. We will not be able to accomplish and fulfill the dream or spirit of EDSA if we are not able to pass it on to the young millennials out there, to really get them to understand what happened on that day. Our blessed mother has truly been a miracle for all of us who has guided us all during those times. Through time and today, we are very fortunate to see the Philippines in progress. The spirit of EDSA can only be achieved if we have unity, peace, and prosperity for all.” 

Yearly, the Spirit of EDSA Foundation, headed by its founder Chris Carrion, awards members of the important groups during the EDSA revolution – the military, religious and civilians.

The military awardees that represented the Philippine Army, Navy and Airforce were DND Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Rear Admiral Bayaui Gaenlan and Gen. William Hotchkiss III, respectively.

The religious were represented by Sister Sarah Manapol for the Roman Catholics, Aleem Said Akmar Bashir for the Muslims, and Bishop Jonel Milan for the Christians. Lastly, the civilians who were awarded were Bobby Aquino in behalf of his late father Butz Aquino for Luzon, Ching Montinola for Visayas, and Uriel Jojo Borja for Mindanao. Together with former president Fidel V. Ramos, E.S. Medialdea, and Chris Carrion, we awarded these groups who were instrumental in making the peaceful call for freedom a success.

With performances from artists and heart-warming messages from people who were been directly involved in the past, the celebration was a recall of the good that has happened.

E.S. Medialdea closed the program with an endearing speech. He shared, “My administration has always believed in the power of the people to chart their own destiny, and establish a government to protect the people’s interest-especially of the poor, and underprivileged sectors as its top most priority. 31 years have passed since EDSA People Power Revolution, and perhaps now is the opportune time to ask ourselves; “What have we achieved after EDSA?” More than a mere commemoration. Now is the time for all of us to reflect and objectively assess what we have lost and what we have gained, as a nation, during that historic event.”

The true spirit of the People Power Revolution is the true spirit of the Filipino people. May we not forget the value of unity. That we may have different preferences or political affiliations, we are all one as a nation. Together, we are building our future together.


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