May we always remember
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

Like the Israelites who longed for a savior to liberate them from the hands of their oppressors, for years, Filipinos prayed for God to free this nation from dictatorship. Years passed, a decade and more. Still, no sign of redemption.

With power consolidated in the dictator, poverty worsened, with poverty incidence rising from 41% in 1960 to 59% when the dictator was ousted in 1986.

Unemployment was high. Amidst hunger and malnutrition, even children were pushed to work

With many undeserving given positions of power and the abusive, favored few cronies enriching and helping themselves to public funds, the Philippines’ total external debt rose from US$2.3 billion in 1970 to US$26.2 billion in 1985.

The dictator targeted “political opponents, student activists, journalists, religious workers, farmers and more. Documents showed that human rights abuses during the dictatorship resulted in “3,257 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 forced disappearances, and 70,000 incarcerations.”

The Martial Law declaration “shut down 7 television stations, 16 national daily newspapers, 11 weekly magazines, 66 community newspapers, and 292 radio stations; as well as public utilities such as Meralco, PLDT and the three then-existing Philippine Airlines.”

The prayers for liberation from the dictatorship were unceasing. Finally, just when Filipinos thought the dark days would continue for more years, God’s redemption came at a time and manner totally unexpected!

From February 22-25, 1986, the Filipinos realized and rediscovered their power as a united people. With the slogans, laban , tama na, sobra na and magkaisa, People Power toppled the dictator in a bloodless, non-violent BUT prayer-filled revolution!

At EDSA, millions witnessed several days of unforgettable divine, spiritual experiences. Amidst so much praying, singing, and worship, no one was left hungry because everyone shared their loaves and fish. There was no traffic as volunteers gladly managed and coordinated the roads for cars and pedestrians.

Everyone felt equal- no distinction by class, race, age, gender, ability. Everyone was proudly Filipino, brave children of God and Mama Mary. Afraid yes, but fully confident in God’s saving grace.

May all Filipinos remember those frightening yet proud, defining moments at EDSA! May all Filipinos, especially our young, remember not to forget the 1986 People Power! 

The gathering of Filipinos at EDSA was not at all scripted. Despite the risk of military retaliation, Filipinos bravely added their presence and number to the millions who prayed together (as a nation and through the intercession of Our Mama Mary) for God to save the country from dictatorship. At EDSA, the Filipinos showed the world how their faith, courage, voluntarism, their bayanihan and God ended their dark days and ousted a dictator.

Fast forward to 2020. Has the Philippines moved forward beyond the dictatorship, 34 years since the EDSA People Power Revolution?

Fr. Nick Lalog asks us to reflect on the following:    

“Remember those days of EDSA ’86 when all we had in battling the soldiers with their tanks and helicopters above was just the tiny rosary. We were always at prayer, with Masses celebrated in different points around Camp Crame and its vicinity.”

“How sad that EDSA now symbolizes everything that is wrong within us and in our country. We have turned away from God as a nation—and maybe even as individuals.

We no longer pray sincerely. We are like the disciples of the Lord, so close to Him but powerless because we lack faith. We no longer live our prayers. How sad that we have neglected this prescription of the Lord in our lives as a nation.”

As in EDSA 1986, shall we return to united prayer and ask the “Lord Jesus to let us reflect the Father’s holiness in our lives again, Amen?”

cballescas@yahoo.com

GOD
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