Villegas decries division over political colors

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2022 07:37 PM

Edgardo Mercader, one of the original participants of the EDSA People Power revolution in 1986, visits the People Power Monument on February 25, 2022 wearing the ATOM shirt (August Twenty-one Movement) he wore 36 years ago. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Edgardo Mercader, one of the original participants of the EDSA People Power revolution in 1986, visits the People Power Monument on February 25, 2022 wearing the ATOM shirt (August Twenty-one Movement) he wore 36 years ago. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

In a sea of clashing political colors, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas reminded Filipinos that the real enemy is the darkness of lies and criminality. 

This was the focus of the archbishop's message on the 36th anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. 

Villegas served as secretary of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, who was one of the instrumental figures in the uprising. 

In his homily, the prelate reminded how "yellow" became a symbol of hope amid the darkness of Marcos' regime until recent politicking turned the color into a word of insult. 

"My dear young people who were not born before EDSA 1986, it started with a song 'Tie A Yellow Ribbon', which was about a soldier coming home, unsure if he is still welcome to the family," Villegas said.

"It was a song that was supposed to welcome Ninoy Aquino coming home from exile. He was not able to hear the happy song anymore. And he was not able to see our yellow ribbons."

Villegas was speaking about the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., who was gunned down at the tarmac of the airport after returning from exile. He was one of the fiercest critics of the Marcos regime. His widow, Corazon "Cory" Aquino, would later challenge the dictator and would serve as the country's president after the revolution. 

"After the happy 'Yellow Revolution' of 1986 that celebrated our joy as a Christian nation, our colors became reasons for division and derision. 'Dilawan' became a term of mockery," the archbishop said. 

"'Pulahan' became a fearsome term for the NPA or the color of the Marcos loyalists. Orange and green became the color of Erap Para sa Mahirap. Others changed their colors every election depending on who was likely to win."

The use of the word "dilawan" (yellow) as an insult against the supporters of the Aquinos became rampant during the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who authorized Marcos's internment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite protests from victims of martial law and human rights activists. 

The president himself in his various speeches used the word to describe critics of his own administration. 

Villegas said that although the color yellow will always be attributed to the uprising, the message of the movement is about transparency and clarity. 

"Transparency heaves hope. Clarity lights many fires for more honesty. Crony capitalism is not transparent. Graft in plunder proportions is not transparent. Repression and murder of political opponents is not transparency. Vulgarity of words and the medley of falsehood are not transparent," the archbishop said. 

"Ang mga ito ay mga kampon ng dilim at kulay kasalanan, kulay convict, kulay kriminal, kulay ng maraming itinatago. Wala kahit bahagyang kulay na maka-Diyos, linaw, at liwanag." 

Cardinal Sin's protege called for Filipinos to once again revolt against the propagation of lies and the false sense of unity. 

"Maghimagsik tayo muli laban sa mga talumpating walang laman at pangakong bulaklak lang ng dila at wala namang buga. Ang pagkakaisa na walang galing at walang galang sa linaw ng katotohanan ay teamwork ng sindikato. Ang ganitong pagkakaisa ay pang alipin at hindi pampalaya," Villegas said. 

Meanwhile, incumbent Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula, in his mass at the EDSA Shrine, highlighted how faith became Filipinos' weapon in fighting for "truth, justice, and peace."

He called the four-day uprising a miracle under the protection of the Virgin Mary. 

"The forces of the world would battle with tanks bombs, teargas, bullets, and truncheons, as well as with machinery, connections, and negotiations. And yet the simple Filipino people resorted to liturgies, rosaries, novenas, flowers, food, festivity, and images of Mary and Jesus. 

"At EDSA we chose prayer over power, devotions instead of weapons, love instead of violence, and faith instead of firearms." 

Marcos's rule saw thousands of human rights violations including torture and murder. He and his family amassed billions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth throughout years of the regime.

Over three decades after the Marcoses fled the country, members of the late dictator's family are back in power with his namesake Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as the frontrunner for the 2022 national elections. 

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