A quick survey of 29 protesters at the 29th year commemoration of Edsa 1 shows how people have changed, but the government and the socio-political system still needs a-changing.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO and DEE AYROSO
In February 1986, from the 22nd to the 25th, a crowd of up to two million gathered along the stretch of Edsa from Cubao to Ortigas. People served as human shield for Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, where Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Phil. Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos holed up after turning their back on the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
When Manila Archbishop Cardinal Sin issued a call to support Enrile and Ramos, people came pouring in at Edsa. Even as the tanks rolled in and biplanes hovered threateningly above, the people stood their ground, and offered food, flowers and prayers to the Marcos “Loyalist” soldiers.
In the morning of Feb. 25, Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel took their oath of office as President and Vice President, respectively, and later that night, Marcos and his family left, whisked off to Hawaii by a US helicopter from Clark Air base.
But beyond these few, prominent personalities – whose actions were suspected by critics to be in step with orchestrations by the US government – Edsa is about a people who were fed up and stood up to oust a corrupt, repressive government.
Edsa 1 was given the oxymoron “peaceful revolution,” “yellow revolution,” a “fiesta.” But Ferdinand Marcos, his family, military officers and cronies, went scot-free. The cases of corruption and human rights violations continued under the succeeding regime of Corazon Aquino.
Bulatlat made a quick survey among 29 protesters on the 29th year of Edsa 1, and found out that more than half of those interviewed went to either Edsa or Mendiola outside the Palace gates, on their own, with family, or as part of an organization. Some who were too young were left at home while their elders joined the protest. Some were not in Metro Manila to take to the street, but were also engaged in efforts for social change. Many also joined Edsa 2, the People Power gathering that ousted President Joseph Estrada in 2001.
All of them said that the problems of 29 years ago remain today.
1. Boy Mercado, food vendor
I was at home. I was watching the news and I prayed that nothing bad would happen. Before, I used to sell “taho.” Today, I sell these (shows the fish crackers he sells). Nothing has changed. Prices of goods have soared.
2. Jigs Clamor, national coordinator, Selda
I was 10 years old then, and we lived in Sta. Mesa, near Malacañang. My father, uncles, older brothers, cousins, and neighbours, all went to hold vigil in Mendiola; and my mother, my sister and I were the only ones left at home. My father, Benjamin Clamor, was with the Ecumenical Council on Tribal Filipinos, while my brothers were also activists.
They all came home after Marcos left, and they brought this piece of barbed wire, taken from the barricade in Mendiola as a souvenir.
3. Randy Evangelista
I was at home. I was still in Grade 1 and there were no classes. Our neighbors were wearing yellow and they were heading to Edsa. But we did not go. Our family was not politically inclined.
But when I became a college student, I was politicized when I saw the hardships of the people.
4. Bong Yago
I was in third year college. Even before the so-called Edsa uprising, there were rallies left and right. We would hold rallies in Plaza Miranda, in Recto, in Makati or in Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros. Edsa did not happen over night.
And while traditional politicians and the petty bourgeois linked arms in Edsa, we were at Mendiola because that is where the seat of power is.
5. Clemente Bautista, national coordinator, Kalikasan PNE
I was in second year high school, and my family went to Edsa. I was still young and I only knew that people wanted Marcos ousted. It was festive, and wasn’t scary. We came from Parañaque, and I remember walking from Guadalupe to Crame.
Later in college, I joined protests against tuition and dorm hikes, and the US bases.
6. Garry Martinez, chair, Migrante International
I was the only one absent from school at that time. I was in third year high school, and I went to Edsa.
During Edsa 2, I was working in South Korea but we still held a protest action there in solidarity to the oust Estrada efforts here.
7. ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio
I was at home. I was only a high school student. I was apolitical though I saw it on television news. But over the years, I became more aware of what was happening, especially on the issue of US bases.
8. Atty. Ephraim Cortez, National Union of People’s Lawyers
I was a second year Philosophy student at the Philippine Christian University. I was a member of the Student Christian Movement, but I had no contact with my group, so I went to Edsa on my own, but didn’t stay long. I lived in Quezon City so it wasn’t far. There wasn’t any text messaging then.
9. Cristina Palabay, secretary general, Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan)
I was only seven years old then. We were worried, waiting at home for my father, a member of the Philippine Navy who was then assigned to guard Marcos.
Twenty-nine years later, here I am. My father and I later on realized that what we believed in was wrong.
10. Thaddeus Ifurung, Karapatan
I was a first year economics student at PUP. I used to live in Mandaluyong so we were very near Edsa. I slipped out of our house to go there. I was not yet an activist at that time.
After Edsa 1, I joined the students’ barricade in PUP to oust a Marcos crony who headed our university.
11. Edre Olalia, secretary general, National Union of People’s Lawyers
I was in law school at that time. We did not immediately join the Edsa People Power. In fact, we arrived on the third day. But in our law school, there was a campaign to oust Marcos.
Today, I joined the “people’s court” because this is more decisive. We do not want Aquino to steal the thunder of the people’s struggle to restore the so-called democracy.
12. Sammy Malunes, spokesperson, Riles Network
I was 23 then, and was working at the LRT, whose union was with TUCP. We went to Edsa, and I later went to join the vigil in Mendiola. At that time, there were oil price hikes, while salary was kept at P45 a day or P1,200 a month.
After Edsa, KMU called for a P25 wage hike, across-the-board, nationwide.
Today, nothing seemed to have changed. Privatization and other anti-people policies have worsened. Contractualization, low salary and privatization of utilities continue to this day.
13. Jang Monte, Gabriela Women’s Partylist
I was a Grade 3 student. We lived inside a military camp in Cebu because my father was in the military. They were on red alert. They were doing an inventory of high-powered firearms. The atmosphere smelled of coup d’ etat.
Today, I am here because I do not want Noynoy to ruin the kind of society that I would pass on to my children.
14. Meggie Nolasco, public information officer, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
I was only one year old then. But I grew up singing songs like, “ibon man may layang lumipad” (from the protest song Bayan ko)
15. Mong Palatino, Bayan-National Capital Region and Bulatlat columnist
I was a kindergarten student then. There were no classes. Today, my children have no classes. That’s why I’m here.
16. Joana Jaime, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp)
I was still in elementary. My grandmother and I were watching news on television. Later, we learned that Marcos had left for Hawaii. Today, people are out in the streets holding protest actions because nothing has changed. I just got out of a bus, where I gave away leaflets of today’s protest.
17. Obet de Castro, Bayan Muna
I was a student activist with the League of Filipino Students. We held vigil in EDSA, near Camp Crame. Before Feb. 25, there were campus walkouts. Students marched from their schools and converged in Edsa in thousands.
I am still here because there is no reason to lie low from activism – we are confronting the same issues.
18. Aya Santos, secretary general, Desaparecidos
I was four years old. I was left to be cared for by my guardian because everyone left to go to Edsa. Today, I left my son at home so I could join today’s protest and he was asking, “ano gawa niyo dyan?”
19. Dr. Beng Reyes, secretary general, Health Alliance for Democracy (Head)
I was a Grade 6 student then. My father gave me a lecture on what was happening. He said that it was because Ninoy was killed. He was a big fan of Ninoy, not Noynoy.
I am here because what my father taught me still rings true today.
20. Gi Estrada, Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura
I was with the group Forum Ilocandia. When I heard about the coup d’etat, I thought, “Just shoot each other already.” But then I had to accompany my younger sister who wanted to go to Edsa, so I did.
Today I’m here to oust Aquino.
21. George San Mateo, national president, PISTON
I was in second year college at the Far Eastern University. I wasn’t politicized yet, and I was with Jaja (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All).I was there for four days, in front of Crame, in White plains, in different spots. The people were there, up against the tanks, but it wasn’t to protect Enrile, but to protect each other who were there to overthrow the dictatorship.
22. Nanay Bising Wenceslao, 74, community organizer, Gabriela Women’s Partylist
I was still in Davao, and we followed the People Power on the neighbor’s TV.
In 1987, the communities were being militarized, and my family went to Manila. My son, Tata went back to Davao. He was disappeared by state forces.
I continued to organize in the urban poor communities, and was part of the Edsa 2 to oust Estrada. Today, I’m still here. There is no turning back from activism, we all want genuine change.
23. Estrelita Geronimo, administrative officer, Karapatan
I was then working for the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission, but I went to Edsa with the Marikina urban poor NGO, Tumana. The call was to oust Marcos. Edsa was filled with so many people, and there were planes hovering, believed to be set to drop a bomb on the people. But the people would just clap their hands in defiance when the planes flew above. It was festive, and the people were not afraid.
24. Romeo Ancheta, Desaparecidos
I was with Kadena-Obrero chapter, and we even hung our banner on an army tank. We went back and forth to hold vigil at Edsa, and even collected food donation for the rebel soldiers: rice, canned goods. We put them in a sack and dropped them over the walls in Crame.
I was so nervous when the tank in front of us turned on its engine, and I thought it was going to run us over. But we didn’t budge, we knew that there were many of us.
25. Shirley Pascual, Desaparecidos
I went to Edsa, but didn’t stay long because my youngest was still small. My husband, Obet, was the one who stayed in Edsa the whole time, along with other forces from urban poor communities in Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela).
Ironically, Obet was disappeared two years later, under Cory Aquino who replaced the Dictator.
26. Satur Ocampo, president, Makabayan coalition
I was in the underground movement at that time. We were closely monitoring what was happening in Edsa. We made slogans and printed out leaflets. National democratic activists were among those who joined the protest.
There is no reason to celebrate this day. As we can see, we are up against the son of the president who replaced Marcos.
Cory failed to become a government opposite of Marcos. It carried over and retained members of the military and police. They were never penalized for their human rights violations. And these violations continue to this day, which we now refer to as the culture of impunity.
I was an NPA guerrilla then. We were preparing for a “T.O.” (tactical offensive) somewhere in Samar. There were five platoons then and we were listening to the radio. There were reports that there will be a ceasefire.
The next thing that was being reported was that Marcos was flying out to Hawaii, that Cory had replaced him and, months later, there was ceasefire.
One day, a farmer approached me, asking if the NPAs will really abandon the armed struggle. I asked him why. And the farmer answered, “Can you leave your firearms to me?,” implying that he will take my place if I leave, “Comrade, our lives will never improve even under Cory.”
28. Roger Soluta, secretary general, Kilusang Mayo Uno
I was in EDSA at that time. But we marched to Mendiola, along with activists from Bayan. We were really looking forward to victory at that time. Today, I am here because we need to oust yet another president.
29. Florida Sibayan, chair, Ambala
I was still a sugarcane worker then. We were brought to Luneta. A big Philippine Rabbit bus, rented by the Cojuangcos, took us there. Of course, at that time, we still believe that they were true to their promises to give us back our land. Today, I am still calling for the distribution of Hacienda Luisita. I demand that Noynoy should resign.