THIS year’s anniversary of the 1986 people power uprising passed without much fanfare, which is symbolic of the socio-political milieu we are in. That uprising that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos was mainly a liberal democratic pursuit and liberal democrats are currently in the minority.
The presidency of Rodrigo Duterte is one proof of this. The Duterte presidency is the closest we have to a Marcos regime return. Which makes Ferdinand Marcos Jr. almost becoming our vice president not that surprising, too. It was not only about the tons of money the Marcoses still possess. It was also about a big chunk of the populace embracing the viewpoints and standpoints that in the past allowed the Marcoses to thrive.
I say the memories of the Edsa revolt are slowly but surely going the way of the defeat of the Japanese on Philippine shores during World War II. When I wrote a special report I titled, “Liberation of Cebu,” what I readily observed was the dwindling number of people who remembered that episode in our history. Those who remembered are mostly the World War II veterans who are also mostly gone.
Most of the veterans of the Edsa uprising are old and many of its leaders have passed away. The symbol of the uprising, Corazon Aquino is dead and her son Benigno Aquino III, who would later become this country’s President like his mother before him, is already old and sickly. The other leaders of the anti-Marcos uprising, former president Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile are rarely seen in public. Even the once handsome and charismatic rebel soldier Gregorio Honasan, a senator, is becoming a caricature of his young self.
One thing I learned as I matured is that every generation is shaped by its milieu and shapes its own milieu in return. The activists that succeeded the participants of the so-called First Quarter Storm or FQS against Marcos in the early seventies were succeeded by another generation of activists in the late seventies and the ‘80s. Those generations shaped their own methods of activism.
The younger generation of activists are now at the forefront of defending liberal democratic tenets that are being assaulted from several fronts by the so-called ultrarightists. At times, the older activists misinterpret the younger generation’s methods for passivity and inaction. But rest assured that slowly and surely, they are picking up the struggle like our generation did in the late seventies and early eighties.
In this sense, Edsa was not a failure. The 1986 Edsa uprising was a response to a stimulus and was not supposed to be a solution to this country’s myriad of problems. The solution to the ills plaguing the Philippines is one continuing search. That search is hit and miss and is dependent on our maturity as a nation, or should I say on the leaders the voters put into office. Putting flawed characters on leading positions shows how flawed we still are as a nation.
So please, don’t blame Edsa for our current woes.