February 24, 2007 · Posted in: Podcasts

For those who still care to remember

HARDLY anyone paid notice this week to the four-day commemoration of the first Edsa People Power revolt that ousted Ferdinand Marcos 21 years ago. For sure, the occasion has been overshadowed by an election season that’s starting to heat up, as well as the furor over extrajudicial killings that have been blamed primarily on the military by no less than the visiting United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and the recently released report of the Melo Commission.

The familiar Laban sign at Edsa But what difference two decades really make. Ironically, 21 years ago, the military redeemed itself from being Marcos’s pampered lapdog by providing the spark for the dictator’s eventual removal from power.

Last year, on the 20th anniversary of Edsa, elements of the military tried to reprise that role by attempting to withdraw support from the Arroyo government, which has continued to be hounded by the unresolved issue of legitimacy ever since the “Hello, Garci” tapes came out in 2005.

The Arroyo government’s response though — putting the country under a state of national emergency on the very day that marked the fall of the Marcoses — served only to diminish whatever significance Edsa still has as a brief shining moment that Filipinos could cherish. Because by defending itself from what it has labeled as “destabilizers,” the Arroyo government has shown itself no less tyrannical than Marcos, stifling legitimate dissent, press freedom, and civil liberties, resulting in limiting democratic space that has again made summary executions a regular fare in the country.

We invite you to again remember Edsa through the podcast interviews we did last year of 20 Filipinos and their disparate lives 20 years after People Power in the hope that we may finally be able to tap its full potential.

Many Filipinos are already resigned to the fact that much of the spirit of Edsa has already been extinguished by the flawed — if not failed — democracy that was re-established in the country after Marcos. At least former President Fidel Ramos, speaking at the opening rites for Edsa 1’s 21st anniversary last Wednesday at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, had the candidness to place the responsibility on the generation of post-Marcos elected leaders, including himself, for the continuing democratic decay. Admittedly though, that failure is as much a burden of the governed as those who govern.

Still, as we wrote last year as part of PCIJ’s multimedia presentation in commemoration of 20 years of the first People Power revolt, everything — unfulfilled promises, dashed hopes, unmet expectations — that ensued afterward cannot take away the glory of those four fateful days in 1986. The introductory essay by Sheila Coronel put it then: “Edsa showed us our potential for greatness, even if the days and the years that followed also revealed to us our capacity for greed, divisiveness, and hate.”

Click on the names to listen to the interviews:

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