A LESSON from the 1986 Edsa people power uprising that is not often talked about is the one about the impermanence of political power. I didn’t get it when I was younger growing up under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The dictator’s hold on power was so solid when viewed from the surface that I thought it would go on forever. And that was at times a source of discouragement for me.

I think it was in 1984, when the wave of the anti-Marcos movement was just rising following the assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. the year before, that I wavered a bit. The group I was in was a proponent of protracted war, but after around five years in the struggle, I asked myself if the effort was for naught. I already spent the best years of my youthful life in the fight but had still to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Who would have thought that two years after, then defense chief Juan Ponce Enrile and the then head of the Philippine Constabulary, Fidel Ramos, would break away from Marcos and spark a revolt that resulted in the dictator’s ouster? That, for me, proved the dialectical materialist dictum about processes. The dictatorship was like any process: it went through formation, rise and eventual fall.

To put it in another way, time is the greatest enemy of any rule, no matter how powerful it may be. That’s why when I look at the current dispensation and see the swagger of seeming invincibility of the people in it, I remember the Marcos years and that one lesson of the Edsa uprising. And I am like, been there, done that. And I ask: How would these people look, say, in 2022?

Isaac Newton’s third law of motion says that for every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Meanwhile, old folks tell us that the higher one flies, the harder one falls. The Bible even has a related phrase: “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” What I am saying is that whatever this government officials will do now they will eventually be made accountable for it. And there’s no escaping the eventual punishment.

But then, it is the nature of political power that those who wield it gets drunk with it. Marcos is known to be an avid student of history but when he became dictator he lost perspective. Lord Acton also comes to mind: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the end, Marcos didn’t go out as a hero who “made this nation great again.” He was a man beleaguered, sick with lupus and forced into exile in the United States where he died virtually alone.

Wisdom, they say, is the advantage of old age. Or when one has seen it all, one can see a particular process unfold and see its denouement. When I was young man with fire in my belly I left school and fought the good fight. But now in my old age, I see government officials committing excesses and wait it all out—or allow time to do its thing. For like what I have seen many times, they will eventually have their comeuppance.

I won’t say it’s written in the stars. It’s just how history—and processes unfurl. And the Edsa people power uprising was proof of that.