President Cory and EDSA Dreams

5 08 2009

First Posted in

I was reading a comrade’s blog entry on Pres. Cory’s death just now. I must confess, it hit me right then and there. I went to the necrological service this afternoon, really, when I saw the people outside, I was thinking, “all these people lining up for a person whom perhaps they have never even met, not even once in their whole lifetime?” The entire buzz about Tita Cory’s magic wasn’t so clear to me not until a few hours back.

I was barely a human being when EDSA 1 happened, yet, I am proud to say now that I am a Filipino, that like Pres. Aquino, I thank God, that I was born in this country.

But despite this, I am very hesitant to romanticize EDSA People Power (and I shouldn’t), especially when some political animals have so conveniently used this phenomenon for self-serving interests in EDSA 2. Some would even say that GMA, then, was never part of the plan, at least for some of those who participated in the protest action.  And indeed, it is ironic and disgustful, how these dreaded political players would annually celebrate their conspiracy to claim power. Unfortunately, some of the good people who took part in EDSA 1 also took part in EDSA 2, which they are all very sorry about.

When I got home this evening, my dad told me “ Sayang ang EDSA, hindi na ‘yan mauulit ulit.” And I can’t help but agree. Not like many of the people in the necrological service, I was not privy to Pres. Aquino’s personal thoughts on a lot of things. And I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if I was given the chance to ask her all the questions that are bugging me now.

I would, for instance, agree that Pres. Aquino was, is, and ever will be tied to her social class and to all the political misgivings that come along with it. However, when I saw one of her interviews on tv yesterday, I could not help but begin to see why so many people respected her. She said that on one occasion, while doing a sortie in a town (can’t recall where), she overheard people saying,” ay yun nanaman yellow na damit ang suot niya.” And Pres. Cory said that she wasn’t really affected, because she really intended to wear that dress again, because she was not a president of a rich country. I don’t know, perhaps because either, to a certain extent, she felt that it is but right to lead her people by example by being simple and frugal, or perhaps just because she felt that it was but right to make her people feel that she is one with their sufferings. Or perhaps, some would even say that that is so superficial. But I truly feel, it’s between the first two reasons.

As I began to admire what a humble and pleasant person she was, I also began asking myself, was it really true that she had done all the best that she could for the country when she stepped down from her post in 1992? This is the same question that I perhaps will always ask to those who were part of EDSA 1, did you really do your best, all that you could for the nation then? If so, why are we still in the same predicament now? The problems that confront the Filipino youth today are the same old problems that the young people of the 80’s and 90 have faced. Why? I ask myself.

I believe, again, that Pres. Cory was not a messiah, if only to prove that, any person could only do so much. She was, and I agree with Kuya Emman, the representation of our people’s long journey to freedom. For all it’s worth, she could have just fled to America, which served as her family’s haven from the Marcoses, rather than walk with our people in the streets and lead the protests. I admire her resolute stance against the dictatorship. I admire her quiet resilience. This was a woman who did not wish to be placed in the middle of all of this political mess, but who took the challenge nonetheless, and sacrificed her private life, henceforth.

While it is also true, the Pres. Cory could have done more as a president, in the issues of agrarian reform debt servicing, etc. I believe that our people should be more involved in these issues now, more than ever. The reason why I think 2010 is important is precisely because this is, once more, a chance for our people to truly elect a person, who like Pres. Cory, will not be perfect, who may not exactly do all the bidding of the people, who may time and again make difficult decisions based on their personal/class upbringing , but who in other respects, will be a President whom the people can identify with, a President  who will not squander the people’s money, someone who will not be afraid to face inquiries on government transactions, someone who will be able to answer all issues squarely, with sincerity, without the angst or the big ego.

Pres. Cory apologized to Pres. Estrada few years after the former supported the current administration in EDSA 2. Pres. Cory said that it was a big mistake. While I salute her humility, I also can’t help but think “do older people really do things that they can later on take back with just a single apology?” Are we really painting our history with shades we can erase? Well, again, I still have to give it to Pres. Cory, admitting that EDSA 2 was a mistake, was probably the biggest statement that I‘ve heard from a political leader in my lifetime. And of course, Pres. Cory was not the only one to take back their support from GMA since then. I just hope that our political leaders would be more critical now, especially with the emergence of new faces in politics. I hope that we won’t need another EDSA revolution to oust another President.

I would not say that I am totally jaded or that I do not value the ideals of EDSA 1. Because like what most people would say now, I think EDSA was our way to redeem ourselves as a nation, as a people, it was our glorious moment.

I just feel a little discomfited. I do not understand why people are going out in the streets only when a democratic icon was laid to rest. If Pres. Cory was to say something now, what would it be? Will she wish for all these people to take more active roles in shaping this nation? If so, I hope that all these people will not be wasted after Pres. Cory’ burial. I hope that when this is over, “hindi lang parang nag-reunion ang mga nakakamiss sa EDSA 1, o hindi lang parang naki-isa lang ang mga kabataan sa romanticized notion ng EDSA 1, sana hindi lang siya matapos sa pag-gunita sa ‘glorious moment na iyon’, sana hindi matapos sa pgahimlay ng isang Pres. Aquino.” I sincerely hope that all Filipinos would claim their stake in building this society, if only to prove to Pres. Cory, that her sacrifices have not gone in vain.

Lastly, I salute Pres. Cory’s faith. She definitely had her share of trials, but it is with no doubt that she surpassed everything with much trust in God. The feeling of powerlessness when one is forced to resolve inevitable predicaments can be excruciating. But her apparent close relationship with the Father definitely played a big part not only in her life as a Christian, but to our life as a people.

The spirit of the 1986 EDSA revolution will NEVER fade, and so will the memory of Pres. Aquino and the myriad of nameless faces whose lives were sacrificed at the altar of democracy and social justice. Let us not, as a people, forget why we fought for our freedom, why we resisted tyranny, why we despised the very idea of “politics as usual.” Let us thread a better path for future generations, and we need to begin now.

By: Paula Bianca Lapuz




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