Good morning, Philippines! Good day, world! Today is the 26th anniversary of the original 1986 People Power Revolution, the culmination of long years of living dangerously when the victims, the powerless, the fearful and all those who felt they counted for nothing at all came together to boot the overstaying tenant out of Malacanang and shoo him out of the country like a fly who was fortunate enough not to be squashed with fly swat.
I avoided saying ” EDSA I” for good reason. What happened between February 22 and 25 of 1986 – surreptitiously at first among the coup conspirators which erupted later into a stalemate between force and faith along that stretch of Highway 54 (renamed Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) – was just the tipping point of a war of resistance that was not at all just about Ninoy or Cory Aquino or Doy Laurel or Cardinal Sin or Johnny Enrile or Eddie Ramos or Gringo Honasan but about you and me and the people we love and care about.
It happened not just on EDSA but all over the Philippines. It happened in all provincial capitals and chartered cities. It happened in schools, churches and farms. It happened too in Hacienda Luisita although it was not just about Hacienda Luisita or somebody’s else’s backyard vegetable plot. It was a war of resistance going back to Lapu-Lapu through all the revolts and rebellions reduced to the footnotes of our colonial history and finally erupting in the Philippine Revolution of 1896 and the establishment of the Republic of the Philippines in 1898 – the first ever in Asia – but which was subverted by “the Mighty and Humane North American Nation” which proceeded to decimate our population through the Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1902.
We commemorate this day as another milestone in our unceasing and unwavering struggle for nationhood, national identity, true independence, true sovereignty, and equal justice and opportunity for all.
If we commemorate this day with only Cory and Ninoy in mind, then we betray the memory of all the countless other martyrs – many who are still nameless – who made this day possible for Ninoy to be remembered as a hero and for Cory to become President and, posthumously, even a candidate for canonization.
Again, I say, this day is about all of us – the student and the soldier, the salesgirl and the seaman, the doctor and the domestic helper, the farmer and the financier, the laborer and the legislator, the actor and the accountant, the priest and the prostitute, the teacher and the technocrat, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful and all those in-between who have affirmed to the deepest core of their beings that they are Filipinos and have committed their hearts and souls, promised their present and their future, and heartily put on the block their lives, their liberty and even their loves that this nation might survive, and live, and prosper.