August 6, 2009 · Posted in: General

People Power Baby

by Jaemark Tordecilla

The start of the 1986 Edsa People Power revolution was a very exciting time for me, but not in the usual way. I was too young to know what was going on at the time – I had just turned four years old a few months earlier – but the flood of yellow ribbons on our street meant that my friends and I now had headbands, which we used to dress up like Robby Rosa from Menudo, or JC Bonnin from the Bagets. “Cory, Cory, Cory kami!” we would then chant while flashing Laban signs, even as we only had the vaguest idea of who she was.

Corazon Aquino would not remain a stranger to me much longer. My grandfather loved telling stories – if he were alive today and was computer-literate, I imagine he’d have a blog and he’d keep posting links to it on my Facebook wall –and he subjected us to oral histories of the family, distant aunts and uncle and Oh, how he looked just like you.

But talk would invariably turn to the story of People Power, and it was fascinating. The story had everything: an evil tyrant, his beautiful queen (who owned a million shoes!), and a powerful army ready to do his bidding; a brilliant young hero thrown into jail, his precocious young children speaking out for their incarcerated father, and his shocking death; and the martyr’s widow, the unlikely successor who toppled the evil tyrant, with the help of people who stopped tanks with flowers and rosaries and songs and cheers. So that is what was up with all the yellow.

Were we there? I would then ask. Of course, he would answer. Long before Edsa. We would try to attend the miting de avance of the opposition, when Ninoy was in jail; oh, you should have heard Kris speak back then, she was very young and very smart.

We would buy opposition newspapers discreetly, my mother would add. We would join the noise barrage every afternoon, and go out to the streets to implore passing cars to honk their horns too.

We would boycott crony corporations, stop paying our bills, stop buying products from San Miguel, my grandfather would continue. Even San Miguel beer? I would snicker, knowing how much he loved his beer.

He would ignore me and carry on with the story. When Ninoy died, we all gathered, hundreds of thousands of people. But the Marcos-controlled newspapers did not report that. Their headline the next day was about a man who was struck by lightning!

My mom would take over the storytelling. By the time Cory ran in the elections against Marcos, the people had had enough. The computer programmers of the Comelec walked out because Marcos was cheating! When Cardinal Sin made his call on the radio, we went to Edsa. Our whole neighborhood was abuzz! Even the people who couldn’t go made sure to prepare sandwiches, so that the people who were going can give them away to everyone else there, because we needed people to stay, to let Marcos know we weren’t going anywhere.

I loved those stories, and they helped me out by the time I started grade school, when February rolled around and I had to write the inevitable What does Edsa mean to you? paper. I wrote the usual platitudes: “Edsa showed how much Filipinos loved freedom.” “Ninoy Aquino was proven right when he said that the Filipino is worth dying for.”

My family continued to speak of Ninoy and Cory (and, for that matter, Kris) in grateful, reverential tones that showed genuine affection for the Aquino family. But as I grew older, I found myself reading about the miserable quagmire that our country found itself in, the failure of the promise of the Aquino administration, and the graft and corruption. Suffice to say, at that time I had stopped being fascinated with fairy tales, and the idea of the spirit of Edsa was starting to hold as much promise as the story of Jack and his beanstalk.

I didn’t really get it until I came across a speech by Ninoy Aquino, while he was in exile in the United States, where he described the temptation of giving up the fight against the Marcos dictatorship.

I am a human being, my friends. I have suffered eight years of imprisonment, I have suffered loneliness like no other man has suffered loneliness in my life, I have been away from my children and my family, and I am financially ruined after eight years. It is only instinctive for a man to look for his peace. I debated with my mind, and I debated with myself, and I debated with my wife and my children whether I should go back to the arena of combat. I felt that I have already earned my peace, I have done my best, I waited for seven years and seven months, and the Filipino people did not react, and they would even give me the impression that they love their chain and their slavery. What can one man do if the Filipino people love their slavery? If the Filipino people have lost their voice and would not say no to a tyrant, what can one man do? I have no army, I have no following, I have no money, I only have my indomitable spirit.

But the letters kept pouring in, and they said, We waited for you for eight years. Will you now abandon us?

My family was fortunate enough that none of its members were detained or tortured or killed by the Marcos regime. They could have taken the easy way out, avoided trouble, and went about living their lives. But like millions of other Filipinos, the members of my family must have seen through the darkness surrounding them: mothers and fathers losing their children, wives losing their husbands, families being broken apart.

And just like millions of other Filipinos, they were all there at Edsa, and while the textbooks would not list all their names and the pictures would not show all their faces, all their voices were heard, thanks to the sacrifice of Ninoy and Cory and all the other heroes who fought the Marcos regime. They did it not for themselves, but for the next generation, for People Power babies like me and for those who were born later, so that we could grow up in a world where we can be really, truly free.

I finally got it. Edsa wasn’t so much a fairy tale but a love story, not just of Ninoy and Cory, or of Filipinos and their country, but of families and their children.

Millions of people weep for Cory because they were there at Edsa where she led them, and she empowered them to give that special gift of freedom for their children. For a lot of these people, that is the only gift they’ll be able to pass on.

I weep too, like millions of other People Power babies, even if we can barely remember Edsa, because as with any other funeral, the tears flow freely from those who feel most loved.

1 Response to People Power Baby

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robert go

August 6th, 2009 at 11:58 pm

she is gone…it was like she passed us by… i sincerely hope that we do not forget all the things she has done, i am afraid that 2 or 3 months along the way, she will just be another memory in our heads,this is evident when cory came back and restored our country to where it should have been, for a while we were high about our new found freedom, then along the way, we returned back to our own selfish ways.

I pray and hope that we do not forget all other great people who has gone before us, who left us with so many great lessons and inspiration.

Let us not forget….

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