Memory

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Sunday, February 23, 2014


CEBUANOS will mark, along with most of the country, the 28th anniversary of People Power this week.

That uprising sparked Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” and smothered communist rule. Ecuador’s”noise barage” sent its president packing. Lebanon’s “Cedar Revolution” forced Syrian troops out.

And how many Cebuanos remember that the Carmelite monastery here opened its cloisters to give refuge to Corazon Aquino? Ferdinand Marcos’s agents were moving in on her after Gen. Fidel Ramos and Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile defected and dug in at Camp Crame.

At a Feb. 22 Fuente Osmeña rally, Cory announced the start of a civil disobedience campaign after massive vote rigging by Marcos’s KBL party. Now, Cory was target ---and turned down a hush-hush offer for sanctuary on a US warship.

Former Rep. Antonio Cuenco hurriedly ferried Aquino and daughter Kris to the Carmelite monastery, Rep. Raul del Mar joined them.

“We could not believe Cory had come to us for safety,” Mother Aimee Ataviado recalls. The nuns hid both in their sparse cloister, until they could fly back to Manila. "I remember Kris suffering from mosquito bites," Mother Aimee Ataviado smiles.

Under the “New Society,” the Philippines became a gulag of safe houses, Amnesty International noted. No. “It was one of the best things that happened,” Imelda declares. Tayo ang nagligtas ng demokrasya.

The revolt left Filipino communists wringing their hands in their safehouses. The Ilocos region looked the other way – resulting in a bizzare bed fellowship that’s never been fully explained..

Clad in fatigues, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. harangued KBL partisans from a Malacañang porch as People Power surged.

A day later, he’d be trundled into Hawaiian exile with family and cronies. Today, 57-year-old Senator Marcos sneers at Edsa as “the five-percent revolution.” He’s also mired in the pork barrel scam.

Under liberties that People Power restored, Bongbong, itches to run for president in 2016---after being slammed by the US Federal Court ( 9th circuit) with a US $353.6 thousand fine for trying to smuggle out paintings and artwork held in evidence.

Then mayor Joseph Estrada hunkered down in San Juan, itching for troops to plaster the rebels. He’s the only Philippine president ever convicted for plunder. As Manila mayor today, Erap “vouched” for his son Jinggoy enmeshed in the pork scam.

Bang in ama kabang, in anak niya mayan tundukan, the Tausug proverb says. “If the father is spotted, the son will be speckled. Ousted by People Power 2, Estrada called for crowds to spring him from the clink. No one came.

In response to Jaime Cardinal Sin’s appeal, people massed from 22 to 25 February. They saved Juian Ponce Enrile from Marcos fury for plotting to take over. Cory had been cheated massively in his Cayagan bailiwick, Enrile said in Edsa’s afterglow.

In later elections, Enrile “apologized” to Ilocano voters for People Power.

Will amnesia save him from today’s plunder charges lodged with the Ombudsman? So, we recall, compulsively perhaps, the 28th anniversary of People Power.

Our stories may offer insights, specially for those too young to remember.

Forgetting embeds injustice. Falsification of history invites repeated abuse. It prevents healing. Systematic distortion of facts aborts essential reforms.

Indeed, we forget at the cost of betrayal. Amnesia over past crimes “reflects a weak sense of the nation and of the common good,” Sociologist John Carroll writes in “A Nation in Denial.” “Unless (the country reaffirms) those values, it may be condemned to forever wander in the valueless power plays among the elite.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 23, 2014.

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