Edsa ’86 in Oro

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Sunday, February 23, 2014


TWENTY-EIGHT years ago the Filipinos triumphed over the dark years of the Martial Law regime.

Although the main throng of people converged in Quezon City, the key cities outside the capital held weeklong marches and protests. Some key people in Mindanao flew to Manila and joined the rally at EDSA.

In Cagayan de Oro City, the atmosphere on February 25, 1986 was festive that lasted the following day.

Jerry Orcullo, the president of Cagayan de Oro Press Club and a claimant of the Human Rights victims indemnification fund, shares that for three days the people in Cagayan de Oro held prayer rallies at night, marched the streets and held vigil and noise barrages.

“I remember the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) lawyers Oscar Musni, Edgar Cabanlas, Mar Carrasco, Dongdong Generalao and the deceased lawyers Fred Gapuz, Gerry Adaza, Bevs Carretas Orville Avellanosa (former mayor of Laguindingan); RVM sisters, opposition councilors Inday Laviña, Jun Pepito, Ramon Yap and the leaders of Mindanao Alliance like Ruben Canoy converged at Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria. I was the political officer of Mindanao Alliance then,” Orcullo recalls.

Workers and farmers mostly composed the crowd. Then, later on it swelled as students and professionals joined.

“When Marcos fled, there was street dancing and confetti filled the air, noise barrages using cans and honking of horns went louder. Mar Carrasco and I were the last people standing by on top of a jeepney with a megaphone warning people that the struggle must go on as the problem was not only Marcos but the semi-colonial and semi-feudal state of the country.”

Froilan Gallardo, who at that time was a full-time activist assigned in the countryside, says he just arrived in the city from the rural areas. “Divisoria was filled with people.”

Gallardo recalls the left wasn’t sympathetic with the process but it had participated in the critical collaborations and adds, “I joined in my own volition.”

“I saw Atty. Gapuz, Atty. Pablo Magtajas and even Dongkoy. I just stayed for a little while and went home at around 10 pm because I was so tired.”

After the revelries and the transition government took charge of the political affairs of the country. Leaders in the provinces were appointed. Then, there was the Constitutional Convention in 1986 that amended the Philippine Constitution, which paved the way to the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

People were optimistic that the political and economic landscape of the country could be changed. They were hopeful to see changes that could bring out the country and its people their greatest potentials.

Have the optimism and hope been materialized in the last 28 years?

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 23, 2014.

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