No memories of EDSA

JUST BE - Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2016 - 9:00am

My memory of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution is close to nothing.

Aside from the songs Magkaisa, or Bayan Ko, I am sorry that I cannot relate to stories of those more senior because I was very young then.

I grew up in a household with my Mama, an Ilocano loyalista, who claims that life was better during the term of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.

And my idealist Papa was angry about the dictatorship but lost all hope because of the “cronies” of the Revolutionary Government. 

A common sentiment at home was, “gone is a dictator, but came the cronies.”

Can you blame me for not having strong sentiments about EDSA People Power while I was growing up? 

I covered EDSA Dos when I was with Probe. I guess it was history’s way of giving the younger generation a taste of EDSA One — just a glimpse of the nationalism then, but it is never the same. 

Thirty years after EDSA One, I was thrilled to be part of the documentary about EDSA (it will air tonight on ABS-CBN’s Sunday’s Best), visiting the places surrounding the EDSA People Power revolution — Club Filipino, the People Power Monument, Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. I’ve been to these places before, and I pass them many times, but it was a different experience imagining the events that actually transpired. 

It’s a bigger challenge to make the younger generation appreciate People Power, especially when we are plagued by the same problems during and before Martial Law — poverty, insurgence, abuse of power, corruption and human rights abuses. 

So what was it really for?

If it’s worth anything, the revolution gave us a voice to speak our minds, and express ourselves without fear of being detained, tortured or killed. I think the millennials will die without social media! If for this alone, then a dictatorship is something that those apathetic about EDSA People Power, should think about very, very seriously. Freedom of expression is just one of many liberties taken away from us during Martial Law. I cite this an example to elicit a reaction from the youth who are absorbed with social media.

We, the younger generation, take EDSA for granted because we didn’t have to fight for it. We were born free, so to speak.

Normally, we value and fight for something when we are deprived of it. In this selfie generation, I fear that all appreciation for the EDSA Revolution is lost. 

I interviewed former Pres. Fidel Ramos for the EDSA documentary. During EDSA People Power, he was the vice chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Thirty years after, he is an EDSA Revolution veteran. 

If he had not become president of the Philippines, I’m afraid he would have been totally out of the consciousness of our youth, forgotten like the others who were present during the revolution and those who have died and disappeared for justice and freedom during the Marcos regime.   

When I see the EDSA veterans, older year after year, I get sentimental that the spirit of EDSA will be gone in the next generation with no one to remind us of its significance. Someday there will be no personal recollections of EDSA anymore that I can listen to — no more salubong!

I feel sorry for myself for not remembering much about the Revolution of 1986. I do not have a personal recollection of it. 

The People Power Revolution is not only about Aquino, Ramos, Enrile, the church or the military, and I don’’t need any affinity to individuals who were there to share in the glory of EDSA. 

EDSA is part of my DNA because I am a Filipino. EDSA happened because others sacrificed their lives so that you and I would be free. 

So even if personalities surrounding EDSA People Power Revolution have changed, the spirit of EDSA holds true and shall last as long as we allow it to stay with us, Filipinos.

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