Wenceslao: Denigrating Edsa

WITH yesterday’s commemoration of the 1986 Edsa people power uprising came efforts by pro-Duterte trolls to denigrate its significance. This is not surprising because many of these trolls are also identified with the camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the namesake of the dictator ousted by the Edsa “revolt.” President Rodrigo Duterte himself do not celebrate “Edsa.”

The leading pro-Duterte blogger, Margaux “Mocha” Uson recently posted on her Facebook account a photo of nuns praying in front of a soldier with the heading, “Napaiyak din ba kayo sa mga drama ng mga aktibistang madre sa Edsa?”

Coming from Uson, who is not only with the Duterte camp being an assistant secretary but has also been seen in functions with Ferdinand Jr. around, the post is not surprising. What should concern us is not Uson but the people who believe in her misrepresentation of events and issues, especially those not old enough to have been through Marcos’s rule and to experience the “highs” of the Edsa uprising.

Revisionism or the denigration of certain events can only be effective when such events recede from our collective memory. I remember my mother and father talk about the nightmares they experienced under the Japanese rule during World War II. But they were never able to pass on to me in the telling the emotions they felt at that time. The same is true with the heroism of World War II Filipino fighters.

I covered a few times the celebration of the landing of American soldiers in Talisay City. The sight of old Cebuano veterans in full uniform no longer elicited as much admiration as in the early years after we were “liberated” from the harshness of the Japanese imperial army. The generations born after the war couldn’t simply connect with what their elders went through and their heroism. The World War II veterans in their uniforms are even subjected to ridicule.

People Power I is widely hailed as one of the Filipinos’ greatest moment in recent history. It is not often that a tyrant is brought down by an uprising, a largely peaceful one. The global praise is both a testament to the Filipino people’s courage and to the harshness of the regime that the uprising toppled. Would the world have noticed had not Marcos’s tyranny been illustrated?

Which brings us to the photo of those nuns. Every great event has its iconic moments etched in our memories; they become iconic because they tended to capsulize in those moments the meaning and message of the event. The scene of those nuns with their rosary beads standing in front of tanks and soldiers were indeed dramatic, but not in the sense Uson tried to depict. It was dramatic because it showed overwhelming power on one hand and a “puny” force armed only with prayers on the other.

The current generations actually have the benefit of hindsight, thus the effectivity of the denigration. They know those tanks and those soldiers didn’t run over the people or fire at them but those nuns and all the people that gathered in Edsa in February 1986 didn’t have that luxury, which spells the difference between mere theatrics and heroism. They genuinely felt they were staring at death in the face but didn’t flinch.
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