Where are the people in People Power’s 29th?
MANILA, Philippines – It’s high noon. The EDSA Shrine is filled with yellow flags. There are a couple of yellow billboards showing silhouettes of people. But there are no people in EDSA today.
The stretch of EDSA, from the shrine to Camp Crame, is eerily deserted. The roads leading to where the 1986 People Power was held are all blocked. Phalanxes of policemen stand guard. The perimeter surrounding the shrine has been secured.
Inside the shrine, there are the powers that be, including President Benigno Aquino III and his family, and select members of his cabinet. But where are the people?
Outside the shrine, a man on a bike is gingerly posing for photographs. He is holding the book, “People Power, An Eyewitness History of the Philippine Revolution of 1986”. He shows a photograph inside the book. It’s the picture of Romulo Tama, 29 years ago.
Now 51, Tama says he has been going to the anniversary of EDSA People Power ever since. He says he wants to commemorate those fateful days in February 1986, when the Filipinos made history.
The former student at the Philippine College of Criminology (PCCR), at one time, dreamt of being a policeman. He says some of his batchmates even became members of the Special Action Force. He says what happened in Mamasapano is unfortunate. He also says Pres. Aquino is not accountable for the tragedy that came to the slain policemen, who came to be known as the Fallen 44.
Twenty-nine years ago, Tama came to EDSA, arm-in-arm with his classmates at PCCR. Today, he came to EDSA alone.
Tama says he was among those who stood in front of the tanks 29 years ago. Now, is standing in support of the incumbent Aquino.
Meanwhile, under the shade of the Ortigas Flyover sits an old woman dressed in the garb of the Virgin Mary. She says her name is Virginia Israel. She also says they tried to enter the shrine and hear mass, but they were turned away by the presidential guards.
“Hindi nila kami kilala,” she lamented. (They don’t know who we are.)
Israel has re-christened herself Reyna Fatima. There are actually about four of them. The man they call Kristong Hari (Christ the King) has passed away a few years ago. They who call themselves Nazareno are mainstays of Quiapo on Fridays.
Reyna Fatima says they came to EDSA to support the president and to promote peace in the Philippines. She claims their mere presence in EDSA today may stop anti-PNoy forces from staging coups.
However, as Reyna Fatima was turning emotional, some 30 members of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) stormed the pedestrian overpass near the POEA building, just across the EDSA Shrine. They are demanding for the resignation of the president. They say he is responsible for the Mamasapano clash, that he is accountable for the death of the Fallen 44.
The LFS were later turned away by policemen, but not without getting their message noticed by media covering the celebration.
Outside the shrine, people may hear the voice of President Aquino blaring on the loud speakers. He recounts the death of his father, the late Benigno Aquino Jr.; how he claims that, he too, once wanted to avenge his father; and how he found comfort when he saw the millions of Filipinos who came to mourn for Ninoy. These same people, these millions of Filipinos, would later go to EDSA, and oust a dictator. That was how Corazon Aquino, the late mother of Noynoy, came to power.
But there are no people in EDSA today; only the powers that be. – Rappler.com
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