14 years to EDSA
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

The 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution was the culmination of a 14- year struggle to overthrow the Marcos dictatorship and restore democracy. What has made it unique is that it was done through non-violent means, dependent on the courage and fortitude of ordinary Filipino  citizens. 

People see this struggle as a bloodless revolution; but, if EDSA is seen as the culmination of years of struggle, then it must be remembered that thousands of people disappeared, were killed, arrested and tortured in the struggle to restore democracy. 

Much has been written about the four days at EDSA; but, not enough has been written about the long years of struggle before those historic four days. I call those 14 years before 1986 as the Road to EDSA. Each participant in that four-day event surely has a story that tells of his or her personal journey to EDSA. I wrote about mine in the last column. Briefly my story started in the First Quarter of 1970 when, as a student, I started joining student-led rallies against Marcos.  In latter years I joined the call to participate in elections even though we knew these were hopeless causes. Ninoy Aquino, and later Cory, spoke of participation as a way of talking to the people and making them aware of the issues. 

There are many who tell us that the EDSA story has become boring and that it has become difficult to tell the same story over and over again. There are those who think that only another Aquino can revive the EDSA spirit. This thinking is like saying that the story of the struggle for Philippine Independence needs to be glamorized in order to revive public interest. It does not mean we need another Aguinaldo or Bonifacio to revive interest in freedom. Perhaps, people want to find another way of retelling the story of Jose Rizal’s martyrdom so that people’s interest will be increased. All these, of course, sound ridiculous. 

There are events in the history of any people that needs to be retold again and again. These are stories that need to be told truthfully. There will always be those who will try to  revise history. Members of the neo Nazi movement, for example, are trying to deny that the Holocaust ever happened. In the United States, there is a movement to tear down monuments to Confederate soldiers. For centuries, after the Civil War, Southern whites were trying to retell the war as a fight for independence. The real story is that it was a battle between those who believed in slavery and those who wanted to abolish slavery. 

The Italian thinker Benedetto Croce stated that all history is contemporary history. In other words it is always seen through the eyes of the present. We cannot stop talking about the long struggle to restore democracy because there are other forces that are continuously trying to change the story and turn the villains into heroes and the heroes into villains.

American political scientist Larry Diamond says democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens in politics and civic life; the protection of all human rights of all citizens; a rule of law in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.  Democracy is a system or a methodology. It is not an ideology or set of values. 

An ideal society where there is equal opportunity for all must have democratic institutions and basic freedoms. The other choice is a society is held by one individual or held by a small number of individuals. 

Democracy is a system that will allow its citizens to chart a course for the country that will benefit the people by guaranteeing equal opportunities. Once the system is in place, the people through its government will have to decide on specific policies and programs. Along the way, the people will have to make sure that there is no repetition of a one man rule or of a  power takeover by a few. These are the more difficult tasks of building a nation where there is justice for all  and jobs for all.

The people who went to EDSA in 1986 were not inspired by a previous EDSA. They went because they were fighting for a cause they were willing to risk their lives for! Today’s generation must do the same. 

From Rene Saguisag

For me EDSA began on Sept. 23, 1972 when I sympathized with Ninoy and Ka Pepe and openly criticized the Marcoses. Or even earlier when Dulce and I came home. JPE, FVR and RAM were on the wrong side of EDSA for years until they crossed to the right side to avoid being barbecued by Ver. I signed the 1975 Message of Hope authored by Fr. Horacio de la Costa, my fellow Maubanin and Uncle Jovy Salonga, my fellow Pasigueno. I edited the Rizal IBP Newsletter.

In 1978 I joined the LABAN campaign, edited the Malayang Pilipinas and helped LABAN win in Pasig 13-8, led by Ninoy thanks to Uncle Jovy and Bobbit Sanchez. Our teeny weeny group was growing. When Ninoy gave his life on Aug. 21, 1983, millions joined us, culminating in 1986 when the Parliament of the Streets prevailed at last.

Are your efforts and mine in vain?

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on March 21 with Roel SR Cruz on setting, “from the Middle-Earth to MCU and Back” (1:30 pm-3pm; stand-alone sessions) and on March 28, a workshop on Writing Children’s Stories with Mailin Paterno at Fully Booked BGC.   For details and registration,  email writethingsph@gmail.com.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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