Pinoys need cure from 'collective amnesia' on EDSA 1

April Benjamin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2016 12:06 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2016 11:52 AM

MANILA -- The message of the 1986 EDSA People Power movement has been lost but the younger generation can still be taught about its meaning and significance to the nation, an official from the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) said Saturday.

Speaking at the dzMM's "Teka Muna," EPPC commissioner Anton Mari Lim said it makes him sad that people would post on social media about the movement which ousted the late President Ferdinand Marcos without fully understanding its real essence.

It has been 30 years since millions of people gathered along EDSA for three days and ended the two-decade rule of Marcos.

"We see posts on Facebook saying 'wala namang nangyari e.' Pero sabi naman namin, 'The mere fact that you can post whatever you want on Facebook that means something,'" Lim said.

What's even sadder, according Lim, was that the message was not only lost among the millennials or those born during the early 1980s to the early 2000s, who did not experience the horrors of the martial law.

"The message of the People Power is lost even to those who were at EDSA. Some of them could not understand or could not remember," he lamented.

News blackout, poor education

However, for Lim, this does not mean the lack of patriotism or lack of care among the Filipino people.

"We have a poor collective memory as a nation," he said, adding that this is largely attributed to media outlets being shut down during the dictatorship.

"In one of the forums that we have, sabi ng mga kabataan, 'We tried to research, sabi nila wala naman kaming makitang pangit na news online.'"

"Sabi naman namin, 'The reason you cannot find any bad news about the Philippine then because of the news blackout. All that you can see at the time was the good and beautiful,'" he said.

He also said that it did not help that most videos available only are showing people having "fiesta."

"What they saw on YouTube were people celebrating. What they do not know was what transpired even before that three-day People Power. EDSA 1 naman didn't start and end on February 22-25. Lahat ng pakikibaka ay nangyari during martial law," he said.

According to the American historian Alfred McCoy, 3,257 were killed, 35,000 got tortured, and 70,000 were incarcerated during the martial law period in the Philippines.

"For people to just think the fiesta atmosphere of EDSA 1 without thinking of all the sufferings and disappearances is really unfair," Lim said.

He added that the loss of the message may also be attributed to "poor" teaching techniques when it comes to history classes.

He said, most of the teachers are more concerned about the superficial details such as dates. Students only memorized the details without getting the entire picture.

Experiential museum

But it is not too late to reverse this.

"What we won in EDSA was freedom. If we want to safeguard our freedom, we have to teach people about history," he said.

He stressed that learning about history is the only way we could understand why the Philippines needed EDSA 1.

For EDSA's 30th anniversary, the EPPC, the agency tasked to plan, organize, and implement the annual commemoration of the 1986 EDSA Revolution, will set up an "experiential museum."

According to EPPC's Facebook page, the museum "will feature elements of theater, cinema, photography, performances and other allied arts to recreate the oppression and fear wrought by dictatorial rule, the struggle of courageous Filipinos to awaken the sleeping masses and the solidarity of People Power."

The museum will be open on February 25-26, from 8 a.m. until midnight.

Lim said, the museum is primarily put up for the millennials. "Hindi na pwede 'yung billboard-billboard. If you bring the millennials, hindi na magka-catch ng attention 'yun," he said.

Describing what people should experience when they enter the museum, he said: "You go in, relive the horrors of martial law, and you come out to experience the fiesta atmosphere of EDSA People Power."

Asked why people should experience EDSA 1, Lim said, 'Yung EDSA 1 ang mother of revolution. Hindi lang sa Philippines. It is how to oust a dictator without bloodshed. 'Yung USA, they pride themselves for teaching us democracy. Pero during those three days, it was the Philippines teaching the world what democracy is all about. 'Yun talaga 'yung pride natin."