Hope

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORY! -

WHEN the Edsa upris­ing broke out into the open on Feb. 23, 1986, I was in the coun­try­side. There was no in­ter­net or so­cial me­dia then and tra­di­tional me­dia could only of­fer us in Cebu very mea­ger in­for­ma­tion about what tran­spired along Epi­fanio de los San­tos Ave. (Edsa) where the ma­jor camps of the coun­try’s armed forces were lo­cated.

Then Manila arch­bishop Jaime Car­di­nal Sin and Co­ra­zon Aquino, the then dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos’s op­po­nent in the snap pres­i­den­tial elec­tions that he called to de­odor­ize his regime and whom he cheated of a win, had called on the peo­ple to mass at Edsa to pro­tect a small group of mil­i­tary men led by then Con­stab­u­lary chief Fidel Ramos and then De­fense sec­re­tary Juan Ponce En­rile holed up in one of the camps. Sin and Aquino are no longer around to re­mem­ber that mo­ment while Ramos and En­rile are old.

My mem­ory of the Edsa re­volt was the meet­ing we held to dis­cuss the prospects of an Aquino govern­ment. We had spent many years of our lives fight­ing the dic­ta­tor­ship and imag­in­ing a num­ber of ways the Mar­cos dic­ta­tor­ship would fall. The fa­vored route was pro­tracted peo­ple’s war. That it was about to hap­pen through an upris­ing caught us off guard.

Would rad­i­cal change be ef­fected by an Aquino govern­ment? There was hope but this was drowned by the fact that the Aquino-led “rain­bow coali­tion” was dom­i­nated by a fac­tion of the same rul­ing elite that Mar­cos be­longed to but which he marginal­ized dur­ing his rule. Aquino her­self be­longed to the land­lord class. How could she ef­fect gen­uine struc­tural change in the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic setup?

She didn’t. In­stead she re­stored the sta­tus quo ante, re­build­ing the bour­geois democ­racy that Mar­cos and his fac­tion of the rul­ing elite de­stroyed. No gen­uine land re­form. No na­tion­al­ist in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion. US im­pe­ri­al­ism, which helped her take power, did a strength­en­ing of its own, per­pet­u­at­ing the semi-colo­nial and semi-feu­dal setup. The fac­tional rul­ing elite were one again in rul­ing the peo­ple.

Which means that noth­ing much changed in the so­cio-eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal setup in the years af­ter the 1986 Edsa upris­ing. The rich en­riched them­selves fur­ther and the poor re­mained poor, even be­com­ing more im­pov­er­ished. The poor’s dis­il­lu­sion­ment soon tar­geted the Aquinos and the “yel­low re­volt” or the Edsa upris­ing that they rep­re­sented (summed up by the term “di­lawan”).

And that made eas­ier the sur­fac­ing of at least two things, his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism and the jet­ti­son­ing by the peo­ple of the lib­eral demo­cratic mind­set.

A good chunk of the pop­u­lace, for ex­am­ple, are will­ing to trade ba­sic hu­man rights for the fa­natic em­brace of the leader they idol­ize. And the Mar­cos im­age is be­ing spruced up. The peo­ple’s dis­il­lu­sion­ment is com­plete.

The rea­son I com­pare the pop­u­lar mind­set to a pen­du­lum is that it does not seem to stop swing­ing from side to side. When the peak of its swing is reached, it will swing back to the other side. That’s why I still cling to the hope that the mind­set and val­ues dom­i­nant dur­ing the Edsa years will even­tu­ally be re-em­braced by the Filipino peo­ple.

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