8 Things Millennials
Don’t Know About
The EDSA Revolution
by Kel Fabie
It’s pretty obvious people who didn’t live through martial law wouldn’t get a lot of things about it, but the EDSA revolution, on its 30th anniversary today, should simply mean that some millennials were already alive when it happened.
I would be one of them. The millennials who lived through EDSA I tend to find themselves in that weird transition between the Gen X’ers and the so-called “kids today.”
With jets flying around the past few days in preparation for today, some of the younger generation are definitely wondering what the big deal about EDSA really was. After all, it’s not like we are so much better off now than when we were back in the day, right? Well, here’s the thing: that would be just one of 8 things millennials tend to get wrong about the EDSA Revolution. It’s in getting these things wrong that we look at PNoy and think “that dude? That’s the product of a revolution?!? F*** that noise.”
The EDSA Revolution was many things. What it was not and will never be is “irrelevant.” Let’s take a look why not.
8. EDSA was just a Manila-centric mobilization
The Assertion: Merely by its name of “EDSA” Revolution, it’s pretty clear that the Manila elite were behind this and the rest of the nation stood by helplessly.
No, not even remotely close. Protests were not limited to EDSA itself. It also included provinces like Antique and Cebu. To criticize the revolution as unilateral would be to mistake the countless lives during the Marcos regime as exclusively coming from Manila, which was decidedly not the case.
While the cameras were rolling in EDSA, other protests in other places were also ongoing. To deny this is to deny the agency of the entirety of the Philippines in this historic moment. It was not merely an isolated revolt, but a nationwide movement.
7. EDSA confirmed that we are a Catholic-run country.
The Assertion: Anyone wondering why the church holds so much sway in government policy to this very day need only look to the fact that Cardinal Sin’s call to action was what made EDSA happen!
The reality is that EDSA confirmed that multiple sectors could come together to get shit done. That the Catholic church was a loud part of the equation does not mean that it was the only one facilitating anything, and the fact that their multiple calls to action against leaders have achieved diminishing returns from EDSA II onwards should only underscore that a unilateral call to action with no multi-sectoral assent behind it would yield nothing but hilarious soundbytes about what the CBCP is mad about in 2016.
6. EDSA started a culture of people who rally to get what they want.
The Assertion: Because EDSA worked, and even worked twice, anytime something goes wrong, people take to EDSA to air their grievances now. We have started a culture of whining.
In reality, the rally culture has always been there, but it was merely stamped out by, well, martial law. To say that EDSA started it is to ignore the fact that all EDSA really did was allow it to happen again, and to say it in this manner is to pretend that none of these rallies are actually worth anything. This is patently untrue, because it is our constitutional right to air our grievances in a public forum, and that, in and by itself, is a good thing, even if the INC makes us second guess it from time to time.
5. EDSA ruined Marcos’s plans for the country.
The Assertion: Bongbong Marcos himself said it, right? EDSA disrupted the great plans Marcos had for the Philippines, including the likes of building 8 rail lines and so much more that he oddly can’t seem to specify.
Well, who the f*** knows? Ultimately, after 21 years in power, you would think Marcos would have accomplished a hell of a lot more but nope, that didn’t happen. The fact remains that not only was Marcos already in failing health at the time, but any kind of project he wanted to do with the Philippines required borrowing from the World Bank, which would have increased our debt insurmountably.
To claim that there were some good things the Marcos administration did that made their wrongdoings all right is to put a price tag on the lives directly ruined by the regime. It is a disservice to their memories and an utter joke of an excuse.
4. EDSA was the deification of the Aquino clan.
The Assertion: EDSA was a power-grab by the Aquino clan that catapulted them into the political elite for all of eternity.
To conflate the success of EDSA with the beatification of this political clan is a mistake that EDSA itself didn’t make. After all, the only thing it guaranteed us was that Cory Aquino, imperfect as she might have been, was going to replace a bloodthirsty dictator. That should have never been an excuse to canonize the Aquino clan so much as it was to put them on notice that they needed to be better than their predecessors. Whether or not they have been may indeed be up for debate, but it was never a given, and should never be.
3. Marcos’s benevolence allowed EDSA to succeed and kept it from being bloody.
The Assertion: The only reason EDSA worked was because Marcos let it.
Yes and no. Yes, Marcos let it happen. No, it would have still succeeded if he tried fighting back.
You need to understand that Marcos was essentially still in power at the pleasure of the American government at this point, and this revolution was the last straw. If he tried to fight back, he would have risked worldwide condemnation because in 1986, the world was indeed watching, and even the US, in its offer of exile to Hawaii for the Marcoses, knew that the jig was up.
Unfortunately, someone in this picture was really itching for a fight.
Ultimately, the decision to stand down was a decision made by the people in the streets. To credit Marcos for all these individual decisions would be a disservice to their memory, but make no mistake: this revolution could easily have been a bloody one if Bongbong Marcos had his way. Because apparently, if we were to assume his dad’s “benevolence” on this count, it becomes clear that BBM was nothing like his father.
2. EDSA was the moment of redemption for Enrile and Ramos.
The Assertion: Because EDSA’s success was contingent upon the defection of both Enrile and Ramos, these two heroes of EDSA have redeemed themselves from their murky past as Marcos’s accomplices.
Well, not really. Especially not if either of these two men still did some screwy business after EDSA: Ramos, for instance, of the PEA-Amari Scam, and Enrile’s pork barrel scam with the lovely Janet Napoles. Some leopards really don’t change their spots, and I find this very difficult to admit, knowing full well I was so pro-Ramos way back in the ‘90s.
Granted, they were given a pass by Cory no matter what horrible things they may have done during the Marcos regime thanks to their help in EDSA. This did not even mean we should have elected them into power. We really, really should have known better.
1. EDSA was supposed to solve everything.
The Assertion: If EDSA was so great, why is the Philippines still in such bad shape in 2016? Shouldn’t we be the next Singapore by now?
Of course not. That would be folly for anyone to assume so. The first EDSA Revolution ousted a dictator who denied us our freedom. It did not give us the wisdom and the power to know what we are supposed to do with that freedom. To blame our woes on EDSA when Marcos, especially towards the tailend of his regime, clearly wasn’t going to bring us to first-world status, is to blame our computer for showing us porn when we went looking for it in the first place.
That the freedom we were given by EDSA was squandered did not fall upon EDSA. That some of us worshipped the Aquino name to the point of nausea was not upon EDSA but upon us. That we gave Enrile (and maybe even Ramos) a pass was not EDSA’s fault but ours. That we now think EDSA is irrelevant is not EDSA’s fault but ours.
And while some of us willingly but unwittingly want to give the freedom EDSA won for us away yet again in exchange for a perceived good that exists only in their wildest delusions, those of us who have experienced what it means for our nation to be “great” under the time of Marcos would rather not go through it again. Ever.
EDSA was a highway that housed a revolution. That the revolution ended there in 1986 instead of blazing its way into our hearts and minds all the way in 2016 is decidedly our shortcoming, and not that of a stretch of asphalt’s. To say that we need a dictator to be anywhere near great as a nation is to admit cowardice in the face of the responsibility that comes hand in hand with that freedom. That freedom thousands of Filipinos died for, which we now take for granted.
Indeed, EDSA restored our freedom. What we did with our freedom in the next 30 years was totally on us, and not on EDSA.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Share them in the comments below!