EDSA People Power Revolution

[FIRST PERSON] 37 years later: Remembering People Power 1986

Crispin Maslog

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[FIRST PERSON] 37 years later: Remembering People Power 1986
'My wife and I marched and bivouacked with the UPLB contingent, marching with its own UPLB banner, at the side of Camp Aquinaldo'

Filipinos will celebrate this month the downfall of the Marcos regime that ruled the country with an iron hand for 14 years from 1972 to 1986. It was 37 years ago when our people kicked out a hated regime during four fateful days in February 1986.

Unfortunately people’s memory is short. This generation, 37 years old or younger, was not born yet — imagine that – and do not know the abuses of the Marcos regime. Others were too young to remember that the Marcos family robbed our country blind before he was chased away in 1986 from Malacanang to the United States where he eventually died.

We older folks remember only too well the events that led to the downfall of the dictator — starting with the snap presidential election marked by massive Marcos fraud and the furor that followed when Marcos manipulated the vote-count, to the mutiny by Defense Minister Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff General Ramos and finally the bloodless people’s revolution that toppled Marcos.

On the evening of February 22, Enrile and Ramos told Marcos they were withdrawing support for his discredited regime. The two then holed out in Camp Crame and Camp Aquinaldo with their soldiers. Cardinal Sin warned against bloodshed and called upon the people to form a protective shield around the two camps. The rest is history.

In the morning of February 23, people were coming to Camp Crame by the tens of thousands. In Los Baños, my wife and I joined a UPLB rally of support for Ramos and Enrile, marched around campus and sent their message to the local military commander.

At noon of the following day, February 24, we joined the human barricades around the two camps—Crame and Aguinaldo. Our group approached two truckloads of Marines. We tried to persuade them to defect while people were offering them food and flowers. They were part of a convoy of tanks and armored vehicles caught in the mass of humanity gathered around EDSA. In a few minutes the Marines pulled back. One victory for the people’s revolution. Other defections soon followed.

My wife and I marched and bivouacked with the UPLB contingent, marching with its own UPLB banner, at the side of Camp Aquinaldo. Our mission: to prevent Marcos soldiers from invading Camp Crame, imagine that! 

The following day, February 25, we marched some seven kilometers from where we parked the car with UPLB students. This time we saw a company of Marines surrender to people manning the barricades. They were escorted by a cordon of seminarians while people applauded as they passed by. The Marines were making the familiar L sign with their fingers (for laban, meaning fight, the battle symbol of the Cory campaign). 

By this time, about two million people were milling around the two camps. We were witnessing a historic moment in the saga of our nation, an unusual sight which saw civilians protecting soldiers! Some scenes and sounds from this smiling people’s revolution:

* The awesome sea of humanity that filled the eight-lane EDSA, as far as the eyes could see, all determined to stop with bare hands tanks, armored vehicles, and soldiers. 

* Images of the Virgin Mary atop huge hauling trucks used to barricade streets, surrounded by people singing “Ave Maria,” “Our Father,” and other religious hymns.

* Nuns and students, middle class people and well-dressed elite, on their knees in the streets praying the rosary in front of the soldiers;

* An invalid in a wheelchair manning one of the barricades;

* A three-year-old child flashing the Laban “L” sign, perched on the shoulders of his father;

* Seminarians carrying huge crosses, their only weapons in this war;

* Contingents of poor people from the slums, children and adults, marching behind drum and bugle corps, waving banners with all kinds of slogans and all colors — yellow, red, black, white, and blue — or singing the alternative national anthem, “Ang Bayan Ko.” 

Meantime, Marcos was in Malacanang, adamant. My wife and I were resigned to continue with the barricades for another week if need be. Then it happened. 

That evening on February 25 we saw on TV that finally the S.O.B. had fled to Clark Air Base on his to the US for asylum. It was a moment we will never forget. All the pent-up frustrations inside us for 14 years were suddenly released. We prayed in thanksgiving with the priest-television announcer at the time, and we all wept unashamedly. 

There was shouting and dancing in the streets. Millions were out celebrating until morning. The miracle of it all was that we were able to drive out the despot in a bloodless revolution that caught the world’s imagination. Cardinal Sin called it the miracle of EDSA. – Rappler.com

Crispin C. Maslog is a former journalist with Agence France-Presse. In 1986 he was teaching journalism and development communication at UP Los Banos, Laguna. cmaslog@hotmail.com

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