Table of Contents
We had just finished lunch. It was a hot, lazy afternoon.
In the sala, my mother was talking to my aunt while my cousins played with their cell phones.
I was eating dessert when my cousin, who was born in the 1980s, asked me a question.
“Kuya, why don’t you like Marcos?”
I told him that Marcos stole from the country, tortured, and killed thousands of Filipinos. In the middle of my answer, my mother yelled at me and told me:
“Why do you say these things?! “You weren’t born then, so how do you know what you’re saying is true?”
I explained why, and proceeded with pointing out facts, which resulted in my mother becoming aggravated.
She again shouted: “Don’t talk as if you are so sure about what you know! You know nothing!”
This answer shocked my cousins and made everyone in the house quiet. I stood my ground and asserted factual evidence supporting my claims.
In response, she yelled, “No! You only know your facts because the yellows won, but if you were alive back then, you’d know that Marcos was right to declare Martial Law. The activists’ protest rallies and rowdy behavior are ruining the country. Stop talking because you don’t know what you’re saying!”
I was about to say something else when I realized that the conversation was going nowhere. Maybe she would listen if we were alone, so I didn’t say anything.
It didn’t take long for me to have that private talk with my mom. She was resting on her bed in the room we shared when I brought up what happened earlier.
Again, she yelled at me and told me that I don’t know anything and that I’m too young to give a good account of what happened during Martial Law.
What happened between me and my mom isn’t a simple case of ageism; it’s more complicated than that, but I digress.
My mom, an OFW since I was three years old, is someone I only get to see for a few weeks in a year or sometimes every two years. She doesn’t see the irony of it all, given that she became an OFW as a result of Marcos’ massive corruption.
Despite the unfortunate event, I made sure to answer my cousin’s question through social media. When he came to visit me in Quezon City, I made sure to lend him my book, Subversive Lives by Susan Quimpo.
After a few months, I called him to see what he thought of the book. He told me, “Kuya, I stopped reading it because it’s not my kind of thing.”
I asked him why, but all he said was that he didn’t want to read it.
In late 2015, I saw his Facebook posts about how great the late dictator was and how much he loved his son Bong-Bong Marcos (BBM).
I decided to send him a message and ask if he would like to go with me to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani and look around their museum. He replied:
“You see, I have to pass kuya…Our family didn’t suffer because of the Marcoses. If we had, I might agree with what you think, but we didn’t. Since I am an Ilocano, I believe it is my moral duty to vote for BBM.“
It didn’t stop there. His sister, in the heat of the issue and protests because Duterte let Marcos be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani like a thief in the night, posted on Facebook,
“Guys, MOVE ON NA!”
I was mad, but it didn’t surprise me because I used to think like them.
My family is proud of who they think is the best son of the solid north.
Only after years of critical thinking did I come to realize the folly of my family’s beliefs and mine as well.
Given the above experience coupled with the return of the Marcoses in power and Duterte being voted as President, I had to ask the question:
“Were there any mistakes made after the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986?”
After EDSA in 1986, there are reasons to think that mistakes were made.
And because of these mistakes, the whole EDSA experience lost its meaning and value over time.
This made it easier for the Duterte government and for Filipinos to embrace fascism.
1. Following EDSA People Power, the first blunder was allowing the Marcoses to remain alive and return to the Philippines.
The Philippines might be the only country in the world that let its dictator live, let alone flee and be welcomed back by his family.
I would’ve personally preferred the experience of Romania and how they dealt with the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his family.
If one needs to justify their deaths, one can only look to the Nuremberg trials; unfortunately, the country did not bring the Marcoses and their collaborators to justice.
The Marcos family just walked into the country, ran for office again, and has been living happy, beautiful lives ever since.
Just think about this, even though Imelda has been found guilty, Imelda Marcos is still free as I write this article.
2. After EDSA People Power, the second mistake was not getting rid of the people who worked closely with Marcos and his cronies for good.
People who assisted and supported Marcos did not receive the punishment they deserved following the EDSA People Power Revolution.
Some of them and their children still held important jobs in government.
The Cory Aquino government should have made it so that they and their children could never be in power or run for office again.
3. The third error that followed EDSA People Power was that the government officials who assisted Marcos in his attack were never prosecuted.
This may be one of the worst things that EDSA did, because it stopped trying to get justice for the people who were hurt by the Marcos regime. Some torture victims even ran into their former tormentors on the MRT as if nothing had happened.
4. Following the EDSA People Power Revolution, the government did nothing to ensure that martial law was taught in ALL schools and universities.
Our schools only teach about Philippine history from the time the Philippines was discovered then until World War II, the whole experience of Marcos’ Martial Law is treated by history teachers as if it never happened, and like a nightmare that should be forgotten.
Martial Law isn’t taught as a historical fact, but as a shameful, scary past that our schools think our students aren’t ready to deal with.
Our country’s schools are stuck in a mode of denial. At the same time, Marcos supporters spread one historical lie after another on social media, and I think they have already won the whole debate by saying that democracy doesn’t work for Filipinos.
5. After EDSA People Power, the fifth mistake was that it didn’t admit where it went wrong, which gave the impression of elitism.
Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, but the story of EDSA People Power is too romanticized and praised for its own good.
It’s understandable that it wants to protect its framework of being a part of history as a result of democracy at work, but it didn’t take into account the steps it didn’t take after the event.
It makes it seem like the event and the idea behind EDSA People Power are incompatible, which is not true.
In fact, the entire 1987 constitution stands behind the fact that its essence and foundation are based on the EDSA People Power and democracy.
We can’t blame our people for thinking that EDSA People Power is pointless now because they are the ones who are getting hurt the most, not the Marcoses.
6. After EDSA People Power, the sixth mistake was that the Cory Aquino government left office with more questions than answers and a reputation for being weak and timid.
It wasn’t a secret that Cory Aquino’s government became very dependent on the military. This was especially true given how many coup d’état it survived.
Cory Aquino also turned his back on Ramon Mitra. There was also the question of how Fidel Ramos, one of Ferdinand Marcos’s original Rolex 12 and a mastermind of Martial Law, became president while Cory Aquino was watching.
I once asked a former activist and a person who had been jailed under Martial Law why Fidel Ramos had Cory Aquino’s support and blessing.
She said that Cory owes her life to Ramos because he helped both her and her government stay alive.
Many people inside and outside of the government would be just as happy to get rid of her, bring back the Marcoses, or change the way the government works.
Cory may not have expected Ramos to bring the Marcoses back to the country, but because he did, her government is seen as weak and half-hearted, especially when it comes to land reforms and getting justice for the country and the Marcoses’ victims.
7.After EDSA People Power, the Cory Aquino administration did not construct enough symbols to demonstrate what democracy and freedom are all about.
Marcos’ buildings are seen as his legacy as well as a symbol of what the country could have accomplished if they had not been deposed.
All over the country, there were monuments and other symbols to remind people of their sad past.)
In the Philippines, there are only a few memorials and symbols on Martial Law that people can neither see nor touch.
In Vietnam, tourists are recommended to visit historical sites, but in the Philippines, it seems like the remnants of Martial Law are being pushed out of people’s minds.
Fortunately a memorial building called the Martial Law Museum will be built. It will be bigger than the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, but even that took thirty three years.
Because of this, my mom and my cousins have good reasons to think that the EDSA people power of 1986 is almost thought to be a myth or just a cover story and not worth studying in depth.
One thing the former activist and prisoner stated that really bothered me was, “After EDSA, nothing really changed. The country is still pretty much the same.”
I would have liked to respond that she is incorrect or that many things have changed since EDSA.
Still, I decided against it since I knew she had lost a lot of people she cared about in a failed Maoist revolution, and she had to get out of it and live through it. I understand her point of view, and I can’t blame her for thinking the way she does.
And I really think this is where Duterte, despite his flaws, was seen to at least shake things up in Philippine politics.
That even former Anti-Martial Law activists swore their allegiance to him despite their better judgment.
Filipinos have become so cynical, disillusioned, and, more importantly, disenfranchised from any chance of real change in the system, that they are more than happy to embrace totalitarianism, if only to create an illusion of structure in a very fragmented democracy where power and justice only belong to those who have money.
Perhaps because it is easier to believe in the utility of totalitarianism rather than exist nihilistically.
“We might as well give that authority to someone who has already had it for years, at least he is being true to himself, let’s take the bad with the good and see what happens,” they reasoned.
Only Duterte was as deceitful, if not more so, than Marcos.
Hopefully Filipinos will carry out another EDSA; only this time, it must be done correctly.
In that situation, the first step is to be modest enough to admit EDSA’s flaws, or else our country would face another Duterte/Marcos scenario in the future.
Here is what a good friend of mine, a former anti-Marcos activist, had to say about the article (the comment is rephrased):
What the “Seven Errors” misses is the cohesion of the forces that brought Marcos down. Cory was a brilliant figurehead for the Edsa revolution, but she was a lousy leader when it came to rallying the anti-Marcos forces.
She didn’t have the drive, willpower, creativity, or foresight to avoid the problems this essay describes. The story also overlooks the strength of the Marcoses’ allies, which helped them leave unharmed.
Even though there were fewer of them, they were stronger and more focused on what they wanted to do, and they had the tools they needed.