No EDSA miracle

    IT’S THAT time of year again when the political divide goes at its widest – the anniversary of the so-called EDSA Revolution: the triumph of the Filipino to many, the betrayal of the Filipino to not a few.

    Just about everyone has taken his/her side of the divide, sometime oversimplified as either anti-Marcos or pro-Aquino, as though everything at stake in this country boiled down to matters exclusive to those political families.

    As far back as the euphoric years immediate to the EDSA uprising, I have made my stand, finding articulation in my column Golpe de Sulat in the then-Sunstar Clark in February 1997, to wit:

    JUST LIKE Camelot. A brief shining moment. Mythic and magical, mystical and mystifying. But fleeting, ephemeral, momentary. But-onceand- never-again.

    That, to me, sums up the EDSA Revolt.

    No. The EDSA Revolt was not, and is not, the defining moment of the Filipino.

    No matter the worldwide accolades the nation received for stopping tanks in their tracks with no more than flowers and prayers. No matter the near-bloodless revolution that sent the Great Dictator fleeing like a sick, maddened mongrel. No matter it being the pattern of peaceful upheavals from Prague to Berlin, from Bucharest to Beijing.

    No. The EDSA Revolt was not a reflection of the Filipino character. It was more of an aberration. Constancy and consistency are basic character ingredients. The very antithesis to the very Filipino ningas cogon. Which EDSA is.

    No. The EDSA Revolt was not a revolution. In the sophomoric verses of an ageing but unrepentant aktibista:

    Walang himagsikan sa EDSA.
    Kumaripas ng takbo, lahi ni Hudas,
    Pumalit nama’y lipi ni Barabbas.
    Ano ang nagbago?
    Mukha, hindi prinsipyo.
    Adhika ng liderato, palawigin,
    pagyamanin ang status quo.
    Burgis ang naghahari.
    Masa, alipin sa araw at gabi.
    Walang himagsikan sa EDSA.”

    Change is the essence of revolution. What socio-economic and political variance – from the Marcos mold – find significance in the post- EDSA Aquino and Ramos administrations?

    In other countries, ousted dictators and their families are routinely assassinated and banished for decades. Only a few short years after EDSA, Bongbong Marcos was congressman, Imelda Marcos is congresswoman, Imee Marcos lords it over a film company.

    Change? What change?

    The way things are now going, the threat of a Constitutional coup a-borning, EDSA’s hero Fidel Ramos is seemingly on track to do – and be – a Marcos.

    No. The EDSA Revolt was no liberation.

    The poor did not remain poor. They became more, and poorer.

    The rich became fewer. And enormously richer.

    The great divide between the have-all and the have-none became even wider.

    Liberation lifts the greatest number to a level of existence higher than their pre-revolution state. Post-EDSA state of the nation remains Third World average.

    Outside the corporate boardrooms and Malacanang, what relevance does this so-called tiger economy hold? To the urban poor in the squatter colonies being bloodily demolished. To the rural folk yet to see a road connect their barrio to the poblacion. To the underpaid and overworked laborers in the sweatshops. To those poverty prodded to mortgage their souls and pawn their bodies in the sands of Saudi Arabia, in the flats of Hong Kong and Singapore, in the karaokes of Japan, and the brothels of Greece and Cyprus.

    No. EDSA is no miracle.

    Yes. EDSA is a mirage.

    Then came EDSA Dos in January 2001. The people-powered triumph of democracy of EDSA 1986 reduced to – others say unmasked for what it really was — plain and simple mob rule. In effect, serving as one more indisputable affirmation of Marx’s thesis on the repetition of history – first as tragedy, second as farce.

    At the height of the Hello Garci controversy embroiling then-President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, cries for another EDSA resounded across the land, but absent a credible alternative, quieted in time.

    EDSA Uno. EDSA Dos. EDSA stillborn. No way that this could account to what Marxists call the “continuing revolution” or the “perpetual struggle.” That is just taking it to the max.

    It could be though the perpetuity of Bonifacio’s “unfinished revolution.” Ever culminating in banderang kapos.


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