This week, we commemorate the 29th year of the first People Power rebellion, a glorious moment in our history.
In 1986, the world took notice as we deposed, without violence, a corrupt dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. By then, the country had been under the dark spell of martial law for 14 years, our freedoms suppressed, our pens stilled.
We would learn later that the public coffers were looted, millions of dollars stashed in secret Swiss bank accounts.
Corazon Aquino, a pristine housewife, led massive crowds, flowers and rosaries in hand, in braving tanks and armed men in uniform. Eventually, many in the armed forces rallied behind her, leaving Marcos with only a thread of support.
As we notch another year in our pantheon of Edsa 1 anniversaries, what has the country got to show after almost 30 years of a democracy that many fought hard for in the streets? For some, in the loneliness of their prison cells, and for others, in the perilous mountains?
How far have we traveled from those heady days, when breathtaking success was on our side?
Today, the principal actors in Edsa 1– the Aquinos and the Marcoses – are still in politics, represented by their heirs. The victorious widow’s son rose to be president while the defeated ruler’s son has climbed to the Senate.
What stark examples of how dynasties have prevailed and how our political culture has hardened like cement. It will take a lot of courageous leadership, through legislation, and education of voters to break out of this mold.
How short our memories are and how forgiving we are as a nation. Apart from Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marocs, Jr., his mother, Imelda, is in Congress and his sister, Imee, is governor of Ilocos Norte.
Our national conversation seems to be stuck in clichés. We’re still talking about coups to oust a sitting president, still shouting “Resign!”
Our institutions are wobbly, weakened by personalistic as well as corrupt leaders.
We’re still an inequitable society, the massive divide between the rich and the poor scandalous. This did not escape Pope Francis who pointed this out in his recent visit.
Our country has seen changes, of course: People Power transformed into micro-finance establishments that are making a difference among the poor and anti-poverty NGOs strong in education; national civil society organizations and those embedded in communities, watching local governments, demanding good governance.
People Power has become a force for advocacies, mobilized via social media and technology. The one-million march versus the pork barrel was a phenomenal example.
The military has been in the barracks since the 1990s, preoccupied with twin insurgencies. Coups are relics, consigned to the museums of our memories.
New challenges, however, are daunting. With the globalized world, threats know no borders: terrorism, diseases, climate change.
China is bullying us. Our neighbors are striding ahead of us in modern and responsive infrastructure, their economies much more robust.
Next year, People Power should reach a critical mass that will work for the election of leaders who will address the challenges spawned by the changing world as well as stubborn domestic politics. – Rappler.com
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