EDSA People Power commemoration

IN LAST Sunday’s (February 19) gospel Jesus tells his disciples: “You have heard that it was said: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

     But I tell you this: “Do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go and carry for him his load one mile, go two miles with him.”

   Jesus also reminded them, “You have heard that it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: love you enemies; and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust.”

     Saturday, February 25, the nation commemorates the 31st year of the People Power Revolution which drove the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos from Malacanang forcing him and his family to live in exile in Hawaii until his death in 1989.

     The convergence of hundreds of thousands of people at that portion of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon City to support two ranking officials of the Marcos administration who led those who revolted against the dictator was acclaimed by many as the restoration of democracy in the Philippines that was taken away when Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972.

     Thus, the administrations succeeding the Marcos regime starting from the late President Corazon C. Aquino extolled the event as a day that must be remembered with pride by every Filipino including the generations yet to come. That this must be commemorated therefore, is something that should not be debated. What might be debatable is the manner with which the commemoration should be done and how should it be conducted to ensure that the phenomenon would become the rallying point for Filipinos to become whole again and moved forward as a democratic nation.

     Unfortunately however, many from among those who were actual participants, those who claimed to be among those who espoused the same ideal but did not have the opportunity to be at EDSA in that memorable days of February 22 to 25, 1986, and those of us who were simply living our simple lives when the EDSA people power happened would rather that the phenomenon be commemorated the same way when it occurred. Many among us want to come up with scenarios as if the dictator is alive and that he and his family and minions must be driven into oblivion again and again.

     That is why we want to focus the commemoration on what we believe the sins and omissions of the dictator and his family members. We do not want to move on. We want to put the blame of the country’s failure to progress economically and politically on the dictator, his family members and political leaders who we now perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be following the track of the dictator. Of course it is an incontrovertible fact that the former strongman and his family have immensely sinned against the country and the people. That fact is long imbedded in our consciousness. And the foundation is already very well laid for history to judge the Marcos family.

     However, we seem unable to extricate ourselves from the notion that Marcos and his family are nothing but the devils that demonize the Philippines and the Filipinos. Therefore, any move to portray him, his family and his regime as anything less than evil is an insult to the ideals behind EDSA People Power..

     So we are aghast and mad at the thought that the present government is opting for a simple though solemn commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolution not at the site of the People Power memorial but inside Camp Aguinaldo with related activities in other significant locations.

     And with us are men and women known to be allied with the political family that was immediately benefited from the downfall of the dictator, including, ironically, people of the cloth who are supposed to be the experts in the interpretation of and to “walk the talk” of the gospels. We are now shouting to high heavens that the present administration has extended concessions to the surviving Marcoses as payment of political favors. And we are claiming that the President has all the shades of a dictator. We are citing his decision to have the Marcos remains buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Seemingly we fail to consider that it was the Supreme Court ruling on the issue that actually made the burial happen.

   And all this noise about the EDSA commemoration came after the President ordered the scaling down of the ostentations in the commemoration activities by doing away with parts that the administration thinks could be potential areas of re-living the drama of the phenomenon that could stoke the fire of people’s hatred against the dictator and his cohorts, and conversely from the family of the late strongman and the still large number of his supporters.

     Thirty years have already gone and in all those commemorations the emphasis was on Marcos who was alleged to have caused the sufferings of the Filipino people. This despite the fact that thirty years could be more than enough time for people to recover from the misery brought about by the dictatorship.

   Unfortunately though, many among us, our surviving EDSA leaders and the supposed watchdogs against the return of any form of dictatorship in the country, still refuse to close that chapter in our life as a nation. We fail to learn the lessons that were spawned by the years of the dictatorship and the EDSA phenomenon. Instead we use EDSA People Power commemoration as a venue for sowing and perpetuating hatred.

     In other words, we seem to have missed reading that reminders of Jesus to his Apostles in last Sunday’s gospel telling them that the dictum “An eye for an eye; or a tooth for a tooth” is no longer prevalent in God’s commandment.

     In that Gospel Jesus told his disciples: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.”

     When can the commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolution be made a venue for national healing and calling for every Filipino to love their enemies and for making it the center of prayers for those who have persecuted them at one time or another?

     For now our rhetoric calling as “desecration of the EDSA phenomenon commemoration the government’s supposed down-grading of its significance, all point out to one thing – ostracizing those who we claimed to have taken away democracy from the Filipinos and those who we perceive to be in the process of bringing back the inglorious days of the dictatorship.

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