MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Saturday, February 25, commemorates the 37th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution – a first under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose father was toppled by the peaceful uprising.
On Saturday, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is scheduled to lead the government’s commemoration of the revolt at the EDSA People Power Monument at around 8 am. The celebration is being held in coordination with the Quezon City local government and the Spirit of EDSA Foundation (SOEF), among others.
The decision of then-military vice chief of staff Fidel Ramos and then-defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile to withdraw their support from late tyrant Ferdinand E. Marcos was considered as among the events that sparked the EDSA revolution. On the evening of February 22, 1986, then-Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin went on air over Radio Veritas to ask the people to support “our two good friends” – pertaining to Ramos and Enrile.
On February 25 of that year, the late dictator was ousted, paving the way for Philippine democracy’s fresh start under the late former president Corazon Aquino.
The flag raising and wreath laying event on Saturday will be led by QC Mayor Joy Belmonte, along with NHCP chairperson Rene Escalante and SOEF commissioner Christopher Carrion. At around 10 am, a Holy Mass will be celebrated at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace at the EDSA Shrine. The shrine was built to serve as a reminder of the revolution.
On the eve of the 37th EDSA anniversary, President Marcos went to his turf Ilocos Norte to celebrate a 12-year-old local festival held for the first time on February 24. In a last minute announcement, Marcos also announced that February 24 would be a national special non-working day this year – instead of the actual date, February 25.
Meanwhile, according to the NHCP, the theme for this year’s commemoration is “EDSA 2023: Pagkakaisa Tungo sa Kapayapaan at Pagbangon (Unity for Peace and Recovery).” The incumbent president had frequently used the word “unity” during his presidential campaign.
At the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Shrine of Heroes), various groups will commemorate the EDSA revolution through music and the arts. At 1 pm, groups will hold collaborative mural painting, musical performances, and open mic performances, according to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation.
The documentary “11,103” by Mike Alcazaren and Jeanette Ifurung, featuring the stories of Martial Law survivors, will also be screened in the shrine. Bantayog was built in honor of individuals who “lived and died in defiance” of Marcos’ tyrannical rule during the Martial Law years.
Meanwhile, the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law headed by its conveners, Martial Law survivors Boni Ilagan and Judy Taguiwalo, also led a commemoration at the People Power Monument on Saturday morning.
In a statement, Senator Imee Marcos, the President’s sister, said she went to her father’s tomb on Saturday. The senator claimed their family never fell short in seeking peace and the chance to share their so-called side.
“Bagama’t ang aking pamilya ay hindi kailanman kinapos sa paghiling ng kapayapaan, paghilom, at pag-usad; ang laman ng aking panalangin ay diskusyon para sa pagninilay sa kasaysayan, pagkakataong maibahagi ang kwento ng aming karanasan, at paglalahad ng katotohanan, na kung tawagin ay demokrasya,” Marcos said.
(My family never fell short in seeking peace, recovery, and progress; my prayers include discussion on reviewing history, and a chance for us to share our experience, and tell the truth, which we call democracy.)
The senator added: “For beyond the lesson of people power, or even what others have called mere military adventurism, a power grab, or even the endless clash of elites, to me the truth of EDSA is that we owe millions of Filipinos still living in squalor and insecurity, ignorance, and hunger the promise of change.”
During an event on Saturday, lawyer Larry Gadon, who was part of President Marcos’ senatorial slate in 2022, called the peaceful uprising a “fake revolution,” claiming that the EDSA revolt was the darkest moment in the country’s history.
However, the years under Martial Law were considered the darkest chapter in the Philippines. According to the estimate of Amnesty International, around 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, while 3,240 were killed from 1972 to 1981 under the dictator’s rule. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)
Marcos has never apologized for the atrocities during Martial Law, saying in an October 2021 interview with CNN Philippines that he “can only apologize for [himself].” A Rappler story also revealed in 2020 that Marcos asked Cambridge Analytica to “rebrand” his family’s image. – with reports from Joann Manabat/Rappler.com
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