Remembering EDSA People Power
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2020 - 12:00am

Today we celebrate the 34th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. It’s not just a day to stay home from work or go out with friends and family, but a day to look back on an important part of our history and hopefully remember why the revolution mattered and how it impacts our lives today.

The world has changed drastically in the past 30 plus years. While we maintain that we continue to value our freedom above all else, there have been many changes in the way the governments around the world work that show that that is not really the case anymore. Fear has given way to isolationism and this is causing people to give up freedoms they otherwise fought for.

We are seeing some of this in the Philippines. Over the past several years there has been a decrease in people’s belief in a democratic system and when certain civil liberties are being exploited or taken away, no one seems to complain anymore. It is said that a democracy wherein people no longer believe in democratic principles is just a dictatorship in disguise. That’s something to ponder on.

When martial law happened before it didn’t just happen overnight. It was a step-by-step process that saw people losing their freedoms little by little. At first one thing became okay, and then another, and then another. The line was crossed slowly and not in just one big go. That’s something that is important to remember these days when we say that “this is still okay” or “at least it’s not as bad as before” whenever things happen.

After all, many people who came to denounce martial law were in favor of it in the beginning. Marcos was a very powerful and persuasive leader who promised to make big changes in the Philippines. He pledged to get rid of corruption and put in reforms for the good of all the people not just the ones with money and power. His promises were enticing and many wanted to see him succeed in creating a Philippines that was good for all and not just a select few.

However, things got out of hand. As they often do. And soon, more and more civil liberties were lost. Eventually, you were no longer allowed to say what was on your mind if it went against what the government said. You had to agree or hide your opinion. It was a slow but eventual slide into dictatorship and many people didn’t even realize it was happening.

Which brings us to today. Yes, there are many things that are different, but there are also many things that are the same. To be fair, I truly believe that our president wants to make good on his promise of creating a better, safer, and corruption and drug free country for all Filipinos, but he is also on a very slippery slope. The nature of a democracy is creating a system of check and balances and I hope that the administration realizes that checks and balances don’t always mean that someone is “against them” per se. It just means that it is democracy in action.

Does remembering People Power still matter today? Yes, more than ever. We need to be able to remember our history so that we don’t repeat it. We can continue to support our government and at the same time, exercise our right to question certain decisions that don’t seem right. In fact, as a democracy it is our duty to do so. We just need to look at all the evidence and ask the right questions. I believe that openness and transparency is the only way forward for both the government and the people. If we can work together we can still achieve great things.

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The start of the year was exceptionally rough on everyone. From volcanoes erupting to fires raging uncontrollably in Australia, it was a fearsome show that Mother Nature might not be happy with how we are treating her. Fortunately it looks as if the volcano has calmed down and news reports from Australia have said that the forest fires are finally under control.

However, just because we made it through doesn’t mean that we should just forge the lessons these incidences were trying to teach us. We need to take better care of the environment. Not just for us to survive, but for the next generation’s survival too.

Just recently, several forest fires razed Benguet and Baguio due to lack of rains possibly brought about by changes in the weather patterns. These changes in the environment may seem small but they can have great impact. Climate change has completely altered the way weather patterns work in the world and in the country and our “colder” season has moved from December to late February into March. While that might not seem like such a big deal, the butterfly effects from these small changes are bound to impact the natural world.

I hope that they are able to control the fires in Benguet and Baguio. Several have already been put out, but there are a still a few more that need to be controlled. And hopefully we all commit to making important changes about how we interact with natural world moving forward. Small changes like saving water, ditching plastic, and being conscious of electricity usage can make a big impact. And hopefully these will be coupled with big changes like less carbon emissions and less deforestation.

We only have one world. We need to protect it.

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By the way, I’d like to take this time to advise our dear readers that my column “Introspective” will now be appearing in the Business section of the STAR starting on Wednesday, March 4, and every Wednesday thereafter. Thank you for your continued support and patronage of The Philippine STAR.

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