What then?  …

What then?

 

 

“No rebellion fails. Each is a step in the right direction,” said Sakdal General Salud Algabre in 1935. This is true not only because we have been enjoying what our ancestors harvested after every revolution but also because their vision of a free nation was, for many, finally achieved.

 

Two uprisings happened in the same place in different times. In the well-known Highway 54 now named Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue or EDSA, did the Filipinos stage their detestation to a dictator and later to the leader of the “masa”.

The 1896 Revolution was a “rejection not just of tyranny but of colonialism” (Jose, 1999). Marcos was undeniably protected by the Americans. He was their prime instrument to continuously work with their colonial tactics beneath the ground in a way wherein the Filipinos would not recognize. Marcos, himself, never knew that he was betrayed by the Americans.

Change, which is what the Filipinos desired during those days, can be attained with a minimum of bloodshed. F. Sionil Jose stressed out that a “revolution need not even to have be bloody.” Many lives were lost in EDSA 1. And here comes the late President Cory Aquino who pompously spread throughout the entire world that she restored democracy in the country. What democracy is this? What were restored were mere rights that were prohibited during the Marcos regime: the right to vote, the right to make assemblies and the freedom of expression. Jose (1999) called these rights as the “empty shells of democratic institutions because the real essence of democracy does not exist here.” The real essence of democracy is equality.

“True to her oligarchic class, she declared a revolutionary government without doing anything revolutionary; instead, she turned EDSA 1 into a restoration of the old oligarchy” (Jose, 1999). This is why until today, we suffer the consequences of her negligence and folly rather than benefitting what initially seemed to be a victory.

Ninety years later, the luckiest man who sat as the 13th President of the Republic faced the angry firing squad. What made EDSA 2 different from the first is that the former was a peaceful movement. Blood did not paint the avenue red for the second time.

The second EDSA revolt was a rhetoric expression of the people’s hunger for genuine Filipino leadership. Estrada created an image of his own self as the President of and for the “masa”. As a result, many were persuaded by this political mask believing that he is the answer to their unending struggle against poverty and at the same time a struggle for equality.

Just like EDSA 1, nothing worth noticing changed after the drama. The system still works debasing millions of Filipinos from that day onwards. After what happened in EDSA in 1986, there was a regained hope for a new construction of a better democratic and republic government ran by a scrupulous leader.

However, years had passed and still, we cannot decipher the essence of these two revolutions. It is never enough for a person to know what happened. What we need is a full understanding of why they happened. As F. Sionil Jose (1999) said, “In our celebration of this Revolution, it is perhaps necessary to remind ourselves that beyond the festival tinsel; we should ask why we should remember at all, and what. If the past means something to us, it is because it reminds us of the good old days – their comfort, the wonderful times enshrined in memory. This is pure and simple nostalgia which does not have any more meaning than would a gargantuan feast, or some orgiastic experience that will forever haunt us with its magic. But beyond this, what then?” Exactly, what then?

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