“Wala ka sa lolo ko. Hindi siya Marcos apologist,” reads the placard brought by Luisa Olarte, 29, to the People Power Monument on the 36th anniversary on Friday of the first EDSA Revolution.
While she had not yet been born when millions went to EDSA to peacefully oust the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, her grandfather—then a soldier—lived through the period.
Olarte said unlike her granddad’s peers, he did not see the Marcos era as a “golden age”.
Her other placard details the toll of the regime—34,000 tortured, 3,240 killed—and the admonition: #NeverAgain.
She added that if her “lolo”, already in his 80s, was not sick, he would have gone with her and her mother to EDSA from their home in Bulacan.
Olarte hopes her participation sends a message to her fellow Millennials and the Gen Z.
“[It’s a] reminder to everyone na hindi naman kung ano ‘yong nakikita niyo sa Tiktok is tama so mag-research kayo kasi ‘yong ibang matatanda alam nila talaga kung ano ‘yong nangyari.”
For young people like Olarte, as well as older Filipinos who had participated in EDSA, commemorating the bloodless revolt is even more important today amid the public’s changing perception of its significance.
More so as the coming May elections could lead to the elder Marcos’s son Bongbong returning to power.
“Baka makalimutan natin once umupo si Bongbong siyempre ‘yong pag-celebrate ng ating demokrasya na nakuha natin noong People Power, baka pati holiday natin tanggalin and pagche-cherish natin nito,” Olarte said.
Yvonne Madera came to the People Power Monument with her teenage children and young granddaughter.
She remembers protesting on the streets in the weeks leading to February 1986.
Since then, she has made it a point to come to EDSA during the anniversaries and take her family with her.
Madera fears that younger Filipinos would forget their generation’s sacrifices close to 4 decades since.
“Sinasama ko talaga silang lahat kasi sayang naman ang pinagpaguran namin noong nag-aaral pa kami, college days pa,” she said.
“Talagang pinaglalaban natin ito na hindi na bumalik ang dating panahon na iyon, ang diktadurang Marcos.”
Most of the hundreds who joined the afternoon and early evening events at the monument wore pink, in support of presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo.
They see her as the best and more qualified candidate against Marcos Jr., the current survey frontrunner.
Yet more than the Robredo campaign’s slogans, the gathering more frequently shouted the slogan “Never again to martial law”.
Rommel Gonzaga, student regent of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and convenor of the Students’ Alliance for Leni Initiative or SALI, reminded voters to choose the next leaders of the country wisely.
“Tayo ba ang magpo-prosper or another corrupt we’re going to put into that seat of power? So napakaimportante nito dahil kinabukasan ng bayan,” he said.
“Hindi ito basta-basta at dapat gawin nang may kilatis at dapat nakaakma sa pamumuno sa ating mga Pilipino.”
Still, seeing the young people in attendance that afternoon, which later culminated in a candle-lighting event, singer Leah Navarro said she was optimistic for the future.
Navarro and fellow artist Mitch Valdez led the crowd in singing “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo”, the anthem inspired by the EDSA revolt.
“We can go now, because we can leave to the next generation the legacy we began for them 36 years ago. I-remind natin ang lahat ng mga tao na hindi na pwede ang mga diktador, ang mga corrupt, dito sa ating bansa,” Navarro said.
Their hope is that this commemoration--going beyond political color--would last beyond this crossroad in Philippine history.