Should another man’s life be a reason for people to unite?

Firas Solomon Abboud
Millennials are brought face-to-face with history through vivid personal experiences of activists during the Martial Law

SALUBUNGAN. Edmundo Garcia, a peace and human rights advocate instilling the importance of participation and engagement during his talk. Photo by Firas Abboud

MANILA, Philippines –  February 22, 1986 marked one of the most notable events in Philippine history, the EDSA People Power Revolution. It has been 29 years since, and its story and lessons continue to be felt today.

Last November 12 to 15, 2015, the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) conducted its third workshop entitled “Salubungan 2015,” at the Arctic Bay Hall of Hotel H2O.

Through one of EPPC’s major projects, the EDSA People Power Network (EPPN), 8 organizations from across the country were called to work together to create social programs and other projects targeting their respective communities.

Voices of the past

The participants, mostly students, were brought face-to-face with history through the speakers’ vivid personal experiences of Martial Law and People Power. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

The 1970s were the height of activism, especially for students. Susan Quimpo, co-author of the book “Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years,” shared that, in those years, students would go to school just to organize demonstrations against the Marcos administration.

However, the Marcos administration tried to silence these students; but, despite the government’s efforts, their love for the country prevailed. “Kapag matalino ka or student leader, wala kang choice kundi makulong o sumali sa underground protests,” shared Quimpo.

(If you were smart or a student leader, you had no choice but to go to prison or join underground protests.)

As years went by, people from different backgrounds joined the students’ cause. The protest grew in number and frequency, but in 1986, the demonstrations became a revolution. The tipping point according to Dr. Stephen Henry Totanes, a historian and professor, was assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. on August 21, 1983.

BRIGHTER FUTURE. Participants hold their certificates from the workshop. Photo by Firas Abboud

The present issue

A question posed to the students was: “Should another man’s life be the reason for people to come together and make their voices heard?

Dr Edmundo Garcia, a peace and human rights advocate, tapped into the hearts and minds of the participants by explaining the relevance of People Power to the country’s situation today.

Garcia asserted the need to deepen democracy in the country, which can be achieved with the participation of people. “There is a moral responsibility to share the truth,” he said, emphasizing the need to empower one another with knowledge, which is the first step in influencing people to participate. (READ: Help youth understand why ‘never again’ to Martial Law – Malacañang)

However, involvement is not enough. Engagement with other people with the cooperation of leaders is also needed. Choosing the right leaders is important, the speakers stressed.

“It’s a lot to ask, but with togetherness, it is possible. Individuals win games, but teams win championships,” said Garcia.

A brighter and better future

For the culminating activity, the participants pitched projects for their respective communities to EPPC executive director for operations Jose Claro, and founder of The Dream Project PH Prim Paypon.

These projects focused on solving various community problems such as hunger, low social participation, and the increasing number of out-of-school youth.

The Salubungan 2015 workshop showed the possibility of creating an impact similar to the EDSA People Power Revolution. The participants took the first step through their community projects, but the next one is the participation and engagement of people from all walks of life. – Rappler.com

Firas Solomon Abboud is a Rappler intern. He is a 4th year Communications student at the Mapua Insitute of Technology.