It was once said that the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
The Philippines has faced uprisings, but perhaps none has been as life-altering as the first one it saw in 1986.
Twenty-five years later, citizens speak from memory about their struggle to topple a dictator. Sharing what they remember best about 1986, people give their versions of Edsa. They remind us why the story of Edsa is the story of a people’s struggle against abuse of power, and the struggle against forgetting.
*Collected and edited by abs-cbnnews.com staff from contributions made to Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula, via the bmpm.abs-cbnnews.com and facebook.com/bayanmoipatrolmo.akoangsimula
A few months after the 1984 Batasang Pambansa Election, then Member of the Parliament Mel Lopez Jr. paid a courtesy call to my father, Atty. Francisco P.B. Delos Santos Sr., who recently lost the barangay election from an administration-supported candidate. Both are members of the original Liberal Party.
Lopez asked my dad to support him in his quest for the mayoralty race scheduled sometime 1987, a plea which was heeded by the latter.
Lopez, who was then in his early 50s was friendly, approachable and accommodating. My dad, our family and friends were convinced that Lopez should be the next Hizzoner of the City of Manila.
Delos Santos then called his former leaders in the fourth district of Manila (now fifth and sixth district) to help Lopez conquer the office of the Mayor of Manila, held by Mayor Ramon D. Bagatsing Sr.
However, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, in 1985, armed with the three G’s – guns, goons and gold - called for a SNAP ELECTION.
Cory Aquino, the widow of the slain Ninoy Aquino, refused to enter the world of politics at the time. The fragmented opposition has no leader to speak of in the coming snap polls. Lopez, one of the opposition leaders in Manila believed and contributed his share in convincing Cory Aquino to run for the presidency scheduled on Feb. 7, 1986.
The more than 1 million signatures gathered by the opposition convinced Aquino that she can beat the Marcos machinery. Doy Laurel slid down as Cory’s candidate to the vice presidency. Cory and Doy ran under the banner of PDP-LABAN. Lopez led the Manila campaign for Cory-Doy.
The political leaders of Lopez in the fourth district of Manila, led by my dad, shifted to high gear and campaigned for the opposition led by Aquino and Laurel. Although Lopez’s political leaders lack the logistical support, they delivered for the Cory-Doy tandem.
Come February 7, 1986, I was assigned as the school coordinator of Araullo High School in United Nations Avenue, Manila consisting of more than 130 voting precincts. Evidently, there was a huge turnout of voters. Before midnight, results came in with more than 80% of the votes casts tallied favored the Cory-Doy tandem. Clearly, Cory-Doy won the Manila electorates. In politics, they believed that “Where Manila goes, the country goes.”
The succeeding two weeks proved fragile and destructive to the Marcos administration.
Me, my barkadas and some of my seafarer-friends proceeded to EDSA, marched the stretch from Camp Aguinaldo to the EDSA shrine, calling for the soldiers to join the people’s march for truth and democracy.
We survived EDSA by way of free sandwiches, hardboiled eggs, free drinking waters and other food stuffs through the kindness of supporters of change.
On February 25, 1986, we found ourselves marching towards Malacañang only to be met by stone-throwing addicts. After being taken into custody, they confessed that they were paid P500 each to protect the Palace from the People Power supporters. In fact, Efren Reyes Jr., and I were seen escorting away a Marcos loyalist out of Malacañang. And the rest is the “PEOPLE POWER OF EDSA, the bloodless Revolution” history.
|Atty. Francisco PB. Delos Santos Sr., sitting to the right of then Parliament member Mel Lopez; to his left are other Manila political leaders. Author is in white t-shirt, carrying a child, standing second from left and flashing the “LABAN” sign.
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