ON Saturday, the anniversary of the bloodless revolution that ended more than 13 years of dictatorial rule, two groups held separate celebrations, one at the Edsa shrine, the other at the Luneta Park.

Both places are historically significant in the nation’s quest for freedom. At Edsa in 1986, unarmed men and women bravely stood in the way of the dictator’s advancing tanks and soldiers, helping swing the tide in favor of the bloodless uprising.

At the Luneta nealy a century earlier, a Filipino patriot, whom the Spanish colonizing forces considered an enemy of the State, calmly faced his execution by a firing squad. If the Spaniards thought that Jose Rizal’s death would scare the rest of the Filipino freedom fighters into submission, they miscalculated badly because it only served to inspire greater fervor among those who were opposed to tyranny.

What a travesty then that an event that gloriously exhibited our oneness before an applauding, even adoring, international audience, should be remembered in a way that betrayed our division. Or was the Edsa revolution in fact a fake as a daughter of the strongman that it toppled now wants us to believe?

Gallons of ink have been spent in fruitless attempts to define what went wrong after Edsa and who’s to blame for it. A recurring theme is that Cory Aquino, whom People Power installed to the very presidency that she had been robbed of in a dishonest election, wasted Edsa’s gains by doing what she should not have done or by not doing what she should have.

Indeed, we are all geniuses in hindsight. But we can be selectively blind, too when we look back, omitting by intention or otherwise, certain events or factors that helped shape the destiny of the Cory presidency. We gloss over the fact, for example, that she inherited an economy that was in shambles and a corrupted government machinery.

We also conveniently omit mention of the many coup tries that plagued her tenure. The repeated power grab attempts were not only a distraction to governance, they provoked capital flight just as when investor confidence was beginning to take root.

Oh yes, she could have done something. Again in hindsight, she should have governed with an iron hand, executing military rebels and their civilian allies instead of placing them in porous jails, made so because they were run by colleagues and mistahs.

Alas, Cory did not do that and so she gets crucifixion. But she simply was not in that mold; she has had enough of violence to know that not only does it not work, it can also cause so much grief such as when she lost her husband and when she nearly lost her only son.

So Cory did something else. She showed to a nation that has become inured to plunder and corruption that an honest government was possible and it can start from the top. That some of her successors did not follow in her footsteps is not, by any measure, Cory’s fault.