The Ironic Commemoration of the People Power Revolution

by: Kassie Fallorina || Photo Credit: Alchetron

On February 23 last Thursday, Malacañang issued Proclamation No. 167, moving the celebration of the EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary “from 25 February 2023 (Saturday) to 24 February 2023 (Friday).” The switch in dates, the proclamation states, will enable Filipinos to enjoy a longer weekend pursuant to the principle of “holiday economics.”

Perhaps realizing that the Palace advisory, as worded, appears to assign a greater value to the enjoyment of a long weekend than to the commemoration of the event itself, whoever wrote the proclamation added the following, obviously as an afterthought: “provided that the historical significance of (the) EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary is maintained.”

This use of awkward phraseology is representative of the ironic situation we face today as a nation. We have a president who, in his official capacity, enjoins the nation to remember and celebrate a historic event that booted his own father and namesake from the presidency after decades in power.

A brief look at official news sources would reveal that the martial law era was never a “golden age,” contrary to what your relatives claim nostalgically, or what social media trolls insist on belligerently. Students, teachers, activists, farmers, and suspected dissidents who dared protest were either caught, tortured, killed, or salvaged. Amnesty International estimates that the Marcos regime killed, tortured, and wrongfully imprisoned at least 177,200 people, with most surviving victims yet to be compensated by the state for the human rights violations they sustained under the late dictator’s rule. 

In an interview with CBC Radio, Chris Sorio, a student activist during Marcos Sr.’s tenure, recalled his experience of being tortured and detained in a prison camp for two years. 

I was just looking at the ceiling and I was praying and … prepared myself to die at that point,” he said as he narrated how he was forced to strip naked as military officers tied him to a chair and administered electric shocks to his private parts.

Despite hearing countless firsthand accounts of human rights violations, members of the Marcos clan continue to undermine the damage caused by their late patriarch’s regime. On February 25, Senator Imee Marcos uploaded a Facebook post saying that her family never stopped wishing for “peace, healing, and progress,” even going as far as giving “a big hug to those who loved (her) family.” For his part, President Bongbong Marcos offered a “hand of reconciliation” to those who hold different political views, saying that he joins the nation in remembering the peaceful EDSA uprising, which he described as “a time in our history that divided the Filipino people.”

The hypocrisy in these tone-deaf statements proves that clearing their blood-ridden surname precedes the best interests of the Filipino people. 

As poverty, corruption, and economic hardships continue to define our national life, the euphoria of those four glorious days has slowly dimmed for some, with revisionists questioning and belittling that pivotal event in Philippine history.

The memory of something does not need to be experienced firsthand for people to express empathy and solidarity. To remember is to memorialize those who sacrificed their safety and personal lives so that future generations would not suffer what they did. 

It even becomes more imperative that we remember, especially now that disinformation, historical denialism, and the Marcosian myth continue to persist. Ironically, they are back at the Palace, and we somehow find ourselves once again on a similar page of history. 

Like an audience of a teleserye with no control over the plot, spectatorship is our default mode of involvement: we take sides without demanding active participation. 

EDSA represents the hope that such passivity has not always been the case. In those fateful moments in 1986, the idea of democracy became greater than the people who claimed to be its champions. 

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