Why are there Filipinos who 'hate' the EDSA People Power narrative?

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2021 08:24 PM

A woman stands before the EDSA People Power Monument in Quezon City on February 24, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - There are Filipinos who have shunned the relevance of the EDSA People Power as portions of the narrative have become "exclusionary and elitist," a historian said Tuesday, 35 years after the 4-day peaceful protest began.

Three decades since the world lauded the Philippines for toppling dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. without bloodshed, Filipinos have begun to think that the story of the EDSA protest is "unreasonable," historian Lisandro Claudio said in an online forum.

"It has been exclusionary and elitist. The poor were not there or if they were there, they were betrayed shortly after," he said.

Many farmers and marginalized groups who detested abuses and corruption during the Marcos regime felt not much has changed after the fall of the dictator as new oligarchs simply replaced cronies of the former administration.

"During the first year of the [Corazon] Aquino administration, 130 of 200 congressional seats were occupied by traditional political families," Claudio said.

"If EDSA [People Power] was really a transformative moment in politics, how come bumalik lang yung mga trapo (traditional politicians made a comeback)?" he said.

Others felt excluded after the Catholic Church allegedly attributed EDSA's victory "as a miracle" or "as a Marian intervention," he said.

"Prior to the ascendance of the Catholic Church in EDSA, there were already a lot of anti-Marcos movements involved in anti-Marcos struggles," he said.

"It wasn't just Catholics who mobilized in EDSA. There were many Protestant groups, Muslim groups, non-believers who were in EDSA," he said.

'GOOD AND BAD DICHOTOMY'

Some Filipinos were also turned off after a number of prominent personalities began depicting pro-EDSA forces as "good" and Marcos-linked people as "bad," Claudio said.

"One of the reasons why they think we are so unreasonable is because we never give Marcos credit," he said.

Some anti-Marcos groups blamed the Marcos loans and corruption for the economic crisis in 1983 without acknowledging the fact that the financial turmoil was also caused by the US Federal Reserve System's decision to hike interest rates at that time, he said.

"Had it not been Marcos who was president at that time, there would still be an economic crisis in 1983 because [US Federal Reserve System chair Paul] Volcker would have raised the interest rates," Claudio said.

"One of the reasons bakit hindi tayo pinapakinggan ng pro-Marcos is because we are so sure na lahat ng ginawa ni Apo Lakay, pangit," he said.

(One of the reasons why pro-Marcos people don't listen to us is because we are so sure that all the things that Apo Lakay did were bad.)    "The good-bad dichotomy doesn't always serve us."

'DUTERTISMO'

The erosion of Filipinos' confidence in the EDSA People Power narrative became apparent when Duterte won the presidency in 2016, defeating former Sen. Mar Roxas, the standard bearer of Aquino's Liberal Party, among others.

"If President Noynoy Aquino was the electoral manifestation of EDSA, then Duterte is the electoral manifestation of the repudiation of EDSA," Claudio said.

"Dutertismo is killing the EDSA narrative not just electorally, it is also killing it on social media," he said, noting that Duterte's diehard supporters (DDS) have been bashing the EDSA stories and personalities online.

Most of Duterte supporters "tend to hate the narrative so much" because the EDSA People Power revolution is often depicted with a "sense of righteousness" that tends to alienate those who do not agree with it and how it is being retold, he said.

"It is a moment of unity that soon dissipated," Claudio said.

"Obviously, EDSA was a very beautiful moment but it did not solve a lot of things people thought might--at the very least--alleviate a little," he said, citing poverty and food security problems during the administration of Corazon Aquino.

Despite the erosion of what was once a powerful moment in Philippine history, Filipinos should not stop telling the story of EDSA, Claudio said.

"Just because it has contradictions doesn't mean we have to abandon it. All we have to do is tell it in a way that acknowledges these contradictions, these failures," he said.

"Regardless of what happened after, EDSA People Power is a true moment of unity," he said.

"With EDSA, we showed that the way to get rid of a dictator is by you know, kapit-bisig tayo (we stay hand-in-hand) and protest peacefully. I think that is an important message worth telling."

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