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BLIND SPOT: EDSA expectations

After the Christmas season, like any dedicated government employee, I browsed through the calendar for the coming holidays; and I realized that one of the soonest non-working days would be February 25. Much to my dismay; it falls on a Saturday. Ouch! So much for the holiday. I was a kid then. I never thought of it much at that time. But when I realized that that day was important, I could make out from memory that it was a day when choppers would hover to and fro; and for a male child, that was something exciting. As far as I could remember, my father was unusually home when the song, “Magkaisa” played on TV; and I realized that the same song was playing in the neighbor’s houses. I was thinking, “What’s the deal?” I never thought something was wrong. Walking around neighborhood streets and across downtown, it was all too common to see Marcos Tolentino banners in red and blue, and Cory Doy ones in yellow and green. In the afternoon, the neighborhood bakery even sold bread with matching green and yellow colors, which was called “Cory-Doy”. I know too well that “Boycott” wasn’t referring to a person. I was familiar with terms like Laban, UNIDO and KBL. I understood what an election was; but why on earth did it have to be done in a snap? Later, every government official was referred to as an OIC. A couple years later, I would learn that Marcos was a deposed dictator, and his rule was supposed as the darkest of the nation. I tried to get a grasp of the idea but my early childhood didn’t feel like we were living in an oppressive dictatorship. (Come on, what do you expect from a 5 year old residing away from the nation’s capital.) An online article has complained, “What then is left to “celebrate” whenever the anniversary of the 1986 “revolution” comes around?” “The same power structures remain entrenched in Philippine politics and business. The same tiny elite clique of families still rule the islands. The same sorts of disasters still kill tens of thousands of Filipinos. And the same armed homicidal terrorists roam the country’s mountains and jungles with impunity. Dependence on the remittances of the country’s vast army of overseas foreign workers is growing. And the economy is propped up more by consumption and asset bubbles (both fuelled by these remittances) than by real industrial capacity. The “democracy” supposedly “restored” by this “revolution” is there in form but not in substance. The quality of the political “debate” has failed to rise to the level a true modern democracy demands. ( This same sentiment have long been echoed by political grandstanders, coup plotters, and those who make careers out of criticizing political institutions. (Do you really have to complain to speak or write?) What were the people’s objectives when they took to the streets in February 1986? Did they intend to uproot Philippine power structures in politics and business? Did they aim to bring down every elite family? Did they ridiculously mean to bring halt to every naturally occurring disaster in this typhoon ridden, geologically volcanic archipelago? Did they seek to bring a final solution to the nation’s insurgency problem? Did the 1986 EDSA demonstrators go out to decrease national dependence on dollar remittances? Did the protesters converge along EDSA to improve the economy? Was EDSA Revolution initiated to raise the level of Philippine political debate? People came out along EDSA, in February 1986, to rise up against the government, in the hopes of change. I believe the movement was not intended to go so much beyond a change in the government. For years, Filipinos frustrate themselves in the absence or lack of social reforms, the proliferation of oligarchy, calamities and the difficulties of recovery from their negative effects, communist and secessionist rebellions, fatalities among overseas Filipino workers, the struggling and lagging economy, and the graft and corruption in civil service; and at times have pinned blame on supposed failures of EDSA when all these were not included in the intended output of the grand rally at the National Capital Region’s main thoroughfare. The revolution was meant only for changes in political administration. To expect more would be like assigning a grand poetic meaning on a literal concrete object, and realizing it does not stand so much for that assigned meaning; when in the first place, it promised no such thing but it was all expanded expectations. Maria went to market to buy vinegar; and when she gets home you ask for caviar. Restoration of democracy and order in any form is worth to be looked back with the greatest of gratitude. Besides, I’m thankful I won’t have to attend to graduate school classes this Saturday. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

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