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Forgetting EDSA

Today could probably be the last time we celebrate the anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution that culminated on February 25, 1986, with the fall of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The plundering dictator and his family fled to Hawaii, USA after millions of fed up Filipinos converged on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue to in protest of his massive cheating in the snap elections that he called to prop up his floundering regime.

As a holiday that predates YouTube, Tiktok and even Facebook, what we commemorate today is based on facts and historical events. Ferdinand Marcos was a dictator who ruled over a regime that oversaw gross human rights violations and the unprecedented plunder of the nation’s coffers. Thousands were tortured, disappeared or killed during his reign. Of the billions in government funds that were siphoned away by the Marcos family, only a small portion has been recovered. Given these facts, it was no wonder that on February of 1986, the Filipino people finally snapped and literally joined hands to fight back and kick them out of power and into exile.

Thirty-six years after, things have changed (or have they?) and we are now looking at the possibility that February 25 may no longer be a holiday, especially if Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wins his bid to become the country’s president in this year’s elections.

After all, if Marcos Jr. becomes president, why should Filipinos continue to have a holiday that celebrates the embarrassing fall of their chosen president’s family in 1986? Aside from reminding Filipinos that his father was a plundering dictator that had to be peacefully revolutioned out of office; celebrating EDSA Day also reminds us (and whoever is in power) that once upon a time had the power to kick out undesirable leaders so we could very much do it again if we get mad enough and wanted to.

If you come to think of it, it would only be right to stop celebrating EDSA if we vote to give the reins of our beloved country back to the ousted dictator’s only son and namesake.

However, please don’t let losing a holiday stop you from casting your vote for Marcos Jr. if you already have your heart set on him. It would be a shame if historical facts and an uninspiring track record cannot change your mind but losing one measly holiday becomes a deal breaker. Remain hopeful that even if Feb. 25 is stricken from the holiday roll, we can still get a holiday back if Marcos stans in the legislature can make the birthday of the dear old dad, Ferdinand Marcos, a replacement holiday instead.

It has been 36 years ago, but if you come to really think of it, the Philippine democratic journey may be a failure today but it wasn’t EDSA that failed us. The EDSA People Power revolution simply gave us a chance to get a new start or reboot. After that, where our nation went based on the leaders we put in power as a free people in fair elections was entirely up to us.

Remember, as of now, local and international history books are still one in describing the Marcos dictatorship as a terrible scourge and failure for the Filipino nation and its economy. Filipinos somehow used grasped the concept of “Unity” correctly for a few glorious days and got rid of an overstaying dictator and his family on February 25, 1986 and that is why we celebrate today as a holiday. We celebrate that shining moment in our history when we successfully ousted a plundering dictator who had had us under his thumb through fear and oppression for more than 2 decades.

Today, 3 and a half decades after that achievement, many Filipinos have all but forgotten why today is a holiday. By next year, if enough of us choose to forget that part of our history, we may no longer celebrate Feb. 25 as a holiday, and if the pace of historical revisionism doesn’t let up, we could even have a new national anthem. One thing is for certain, many supposedly educated and principled Negrenses have already forgotten what is was like to be a “Batang Negros” in the early 1980’s when the sugar industry was plundered out of its wits by Daddy Marcos and his merry band of cronies. Unfortunately for those children who suffered through one of the worst famines in the history of the country, they don’t have a holiday that forces us to remember them by, making them more easily forgotten by empty promises of “unity” another “Golden Age.”

Today is the anniversary of the People Power Revolution of 1986. Filipinos should at the very least honor it by reading a history book or at least the few chapters dedicated to it to discover why it is a holiday. If we cannot do that, then we are most likely doomed to repeat history. That would only be good if that part of history some of us are dreaming of had a real golden age verifiable by economic data and statistics, the kind not being peddled by so-called “influencers” on TikTok and YouTube.

The funny thing about holidays is that we usually don’t value it until it becomes endangered. Considering that today is a critically endangered holiday, the least we can do at this point is honor our history by doing some proper research on what makes this day in our history so special that we don’t to go to work today.*

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May 2022
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