Is the 1986 EDSA revolution still relevant today?
On February 25, the nation will be commemorating the 31st Anniversary of the First EDSA People Power Revolution. Much has been said about its relevance today, especially now that the family ousted from power in 1986 is slowly regaining its political relevance under the new administration. Most if not all of the major players then have either passed on or have retired from politics. Much, however, is left to be desired in terms of economic development and social engagement in the country.
There is an adage in Philippine Society called "malapit nang mawala sa kalendaryo" when you reach the age of thirty one. Reaching thirty-one years old can also mean different things for different people. Some lose their youthful aura. Others sense the need to grow-up and mature. A lot though feel confused about their identities.
Figure 1. Country, Flag, People. They represent EDSA People Power 1. No political color. No symbol.
PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES
As we are fast approaching this 31st Anniversary of EDSA People Power 1, people have mixed feelings towards this occasion. The attention has always been drawn anyway to select public figures and not to the millions who made EDSA 1 the success it was. And while the yellow movement has repeatedly romanticized the yellow ribbon and Cory Aquino in past celebrations, the red movement has slowly been resurrected in recent years and it is no secret that past misgivings have contributed to this growing consensus that maybe we would have been better off without EDSA 1.
In reality, EDSA 1 has somehow lost its relevance as political groups have branded it their own and not as a cause collectively fought for by the different colors and races of our country. EDSA 1 has lost its credibility as those who have spoken onstage in past celebrations have been involved in bigger corruption cases. EDSA 1 is in fact valued more today as a national holiday than as an exercise of collective nationalism. Same as those who have turned 31 feel, EDSA 1 has also lost some of its youthful appeal. Our democracy has also failed to mature almost 31 years after EDSA 1. Symbolic as it may seem, a lot of people are left perplexed by the traffic chaos in EDSA, a road which was supposed to be the yesteryear’s symbol of unity and was not meant to be symbolic of today’s discord and confusion.
While many critics have called out the President for being pro-Marcos with his decisions, I believe that the Duterte administration has taken a positive step towards making this year's celebration modest but more intimate and dignified. While we continue to recognize the invaluable contributions of millions of Filipinos who marched and fought for their basic freedoms and human rights, we must also put an end to the constant corruption of EDSA People Power celebrations in past years by groups and individuals with vested and selfish interests.
EDSA People Power 1 remains an important event in our country's history. In 1986, it served its purpose of bringing democracy to our country and restoring our fundamental human rights. In 2017, it reminds us not just to look back but to move forward, to forgive but not forget, and to grow up and not just grow old.
In the forthcoming 31st commemoration of the First People Power Revolution, let us free the celebration from association with the usual colors and hand signs. Thirty one years ago, we fought for our flag and country. These are our only true symbols of patriotism and nationalism that we should celebrate on February 25.