Friday, February 26, 2016

EDSA didn't fail us, we failed EDSA

The whole thing has been brewing for a few days already, and my mother has been in and out of the house. Been hearing about the goings on from adult conversations in the house and the rest of the neighborhood. Marcos cheated in the recently concluded snap elections. The minister of defense and the chief of the armed forces  have resigned. People are gathering at EDSA to protect them, Cardinal Sin has called for more warm bodies.

That morning, my mother was talking to several grown-ups in the neighborhood (I was 12) - she was renting a jeepney to ferry whoever wanted to join her at EDSA. Next thing I knew, everyone was getting ready to go. I wanted to go with them, but this time my mother told me I couldn't for things could get ugly. Odd, for I have been to countless rallies with her - several times not only as a participant but also as a performer along with my friends who belonged to my mother's community theater group, the Workshop for Creative Survival.

When one Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, I was turning 10 the following month at the time, I remember being at all these rallies all over Metro Manila - I remember Mendiola, Liwasang Bonifacio, Plaza Miranda, I remember WOMB (Women for the Ouster of  Marcos and Boycott), Inang Laya, the smoke-filled (mostly courtesy of my mother's cigarettes) Hiraya Gallery mezzanine office where the cool people hung out (and where I was a child would alternately try to pick something from the conversations or just be amused by the animated characters around the table). That was where I, while doodling on Tito Bobi's desk overheard a story about a woman who was captured by the military, her vagina was carved out with a hunting knife by the same soldiers who gang-raped her earlier. The story was told by a photo journalist.

Back to February 25, 1986 - not this time, I watched that jeep full of Road 7, Project 6 residents leave with a heavy heart. Whatever was happening in EDSA, it was huge, I thought, and I wanted so much to be part of it.

It wasn't as easy to follow goings-on then as it is today. There were only five TV channels available - 2. 4, 7, 9 and 13. Broadcast was erratic. The radio was on too and almost everyone in the neighborhood was tuned in to Radio Veritas.

I remember getting scolded several years earlier for toying around with our stereo. After playing my Voltes V 45 vinyl a hundred times, I got bored and thought I'd put on whatever I could get my hands on in our collection of records. I picked out one with an interesting cover and put it on in full volume. Turned out to be one of those subversive recordings - it was Martial Law, and people have been arrested or made to disappear or killed for less. My grandmother immediately turned the stereo off.

I remember wondering about who Carpio was, and why every teenager in the neighborhood was afraid of him. "Pasok na tayo, Carpio na..." I would hear the "tambays" in the neighborhood say. Ahh, curfew.

Suddenly, there it was: Marcos Flees. It's over, and the real winner of that election, Corazon Aquino, would now sit as the first ever woman president of the Republic of the Philippines. I remember - I could literally feel the country's collective sigh of relief, a nation's victory over tyranny - I could now play that Inang Laya or any other album in our collection.

And my grandmother, along with myself and the rest of the family, could now sleep better at night not having to worry if my mother will make it back home after a rally or a play or whatever other activity she may be involved in that, during the Martial Law years, could be considered subversive.

Fast forward 30 years later, and Bongbong Marcos, unrepentant son of the tyrant that EDSA rid us of, is threatening to make it a step closer to being back in Malacanang. There are young people clamoring for the return to the "Golden Years" of Martial Law. Duterte proclaims without batting an eyelash: I am a dictator, so what? And a lot of us applauded him.

These days, Cory's being lambasted for her supposed lackluster performance as the first post-martial law president. Try hurdling six coup attempts while running a transition government.

The prevailing sentiment is this: EDSA, the People Power Revolution, did nothing to uplift the lives of Filipinos, that it failed us.

But, no, EDSA didn't fail us. It gave us what it was supposed to give us - freedom. It's what we did with that freedom that failed us. And if the current trends remain 'til election day this May, we're just about to fail ourselves again.


No comments:

Post a Comment