MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of Filipinos commemorated the momentous revolution that toppled the authoritarian rule of the late president Ferdinand Marcos as they gathered Saturday evening, February 25, at the People Power Monument on EDSA.
The government's silent celebration of the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution did not stop anti-Marcos groups from reliving its spirit 31 years after 1986.
Around 6,000 protesters, organizers said, rallied to reiterate the importance of democracy given President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called dictatorial tendencies and his policies that threaten human rights. These include the proposal to restore the death penalty and the war on drugs that has left over 7,000 people dead.
The protesters also opposed the whitewashing of history with Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery), which Duterte allowed. It was part of his campaign promises.
"We call on People Power to rise again. Whatever our differences, all Filipinos are united in desiring respect for human rights, justice, peace, prosperity, and our prideful place in the world of nations. Let us fight for our rights, for historical truth and justice," said the February 25 coalition, which organized the rally.
Power in unity
Prominent figures such as former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales and activists cum artists Noel Cabangon and Jim Paredes were also at the event.
But the gathering was marked by the attendance of several members of the Liberal Party led by former president Benigno Aquino III.
Vice President Leni Robredo also attended the event. She did not speak before the attendees but granted selfie requests on the sidelines.
Asked about her message for this year's anniversary, Robredo said: "Sana hindi natin makalimutan na ang kapangyarihan ay talagang nasa tao. Kung ano ang gusto nating ipaglaban, kaya nating ipaglaban basta tayo'y nagkakaisa," she said.
(I hope we don't forget that power really resides with the people. Whatever we want to fight for, we can fight for, as long as we are united.)
For protesters, ceasing to recall EDSA is not the way to move on and move forward from the Martial Law issue that continues to divide the country.
Young professional Kayle Salcedo said he attended the rally to express his gratitude to those who sacrificed to restore democracy that he and millennials like him are enjoying.
"Many people say millennials are entitled, they are lucky because they can freely express themselves. But I think it is important to acknowledge the fact that there are many people who made sacrifices for us to be able to do what we do now," said Salcedo in Filipino.
"The only way we can move forward really and move on is to learn from the past," he stressed.
Eliza Tiongson, who witnessed the 1986 revolution, said that EDSA was beautiful at the time it happened.
"When it happened, it was so beautiful. It fell because we took advantage of our freedom. That's what we need to fix, we abused our freedom so much," said Tiongson. – Rappler.com