‘No God, no EDSA,’ says Sin protegé

Paterno Esmaquel II
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas says the Philippines 'cannot move on' if it ignores God

'STRENGTH FROM GOD.' The 'Laban' ('Fight') sign symbolizes the courage of thousands of Filipinos who trooped to EDSA in February 1986. File photo by Noel Celis/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – It means different things for different people, but for the protegé of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, the historic EDSA Revolution on Feb 25, 1986 remains an act of God more than anything else.

In his homily at the EDSA Shrine on Tuesday, February 25, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas challenged Filipinos never to forget one thing 28 years after ousting a dictator.

“Brothers and sisters, you can approach EDSA from any other angle, but just don’t forget one component: You cannot tell and retell the story of EDSA without God,” Villegas said. 

Villegas explained: “You can tell the story of Tita Cory, but don’t forget that she prayed the rosary with us. You can tell the story of Cardinal Sin, but do not forget that he was first a man of God and the Church, before being a man of the streets.

“You can tell the story of the military, of the businessmen, of the professionals, of the soldiers, of the nuns, but please remember all the time that the soldiers, the nuns, the businessmen, the politicians, cardinals, bishops, and priests – all of them will be nothing if God did not walk with us on this hallowed ground in 1986,” the archbishop added.

“There can be no EDSA story without God,” he said.

Love of country ’empty’ unless…

A newly ordained priest during the EDSA Revolution, Villegas urged Filipinos to return to the Lord.

IN SIN'S FOOTSTEPS. A young Socrates Villegas serves as personal secretary to the late Jaime Cardinal Sin. File photo from CBCP

He said this challenge applies not only to Christians, but also to Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and people of various faiths.

“When it seems God is so used to being set aside, even if we set him aside, He continues to bless us, it seems. But our country, our government, cannot move on, if it continues to ignore God,” Villegas said.

“We must always remember that our lives are in the hand of God. But what did we do in EDSA 1986 that made it so extraordinary? It is this: Our faith in God, God married with our love for country. At EDSA, love of God and love of country came together. That love of country is not alien to somebody who follows the Lord. And love of country will be empty unless it is grounded on the love of God,” he added.

Now president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Villegas earlier said Filipinos should work to end corruption in Asia’s most predominantly Catholic country.

He addressed the laity, for instance: “What are you doing, our dear lay faithful, to rid our country of graft and corruption? Do you perhaps participate in corrupt practices by selling your votes, by buying votes, by bribery and acceptance of kickbacks?” (READ: New CBCP head: ‘Politics is business’)

These problems, after all, have plagued the Philippines nearly 3 decades since the country regained democracy in 1986. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.