The lesson of Edsa is not to fear
Where were you during the 1986 People Power Revolution? Maybe many would say you were not born yet. But definitely, you were in the mind of God, our creator.
Where was I that time? I was not yet a nun, I was a young person working at the communications office of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the archbishop of Manila. Cardinal Sin called on the people to go to Edsa, to protect then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Gen. Fidel V. Ramos who were at Camps Aguinaldo and Crame. The next day, several foreign journalists were at our office seeking information from Cardinal Sin’s spokesperson Felix Bautista. Cardinal Sin’s message was aired through Radio Veritas, recorded, transcribed and typed on our manual typewriters, and given to those who needed the message. There was no internet then, no email, no cellphones.
Whole families and religious men and women were at Edsa for that peaceful revolution on Feb. 22-25. 1986. They shared food, water—and dreams. It was, as written in our Good Shepherd 2012 Centennial book, “the event of the decade that cannot be forgotten. In personal and communal ways, our Sisters participated in this peaceful revolution which finally ended the Marcos dictatorship and restored democracy to our country.” It was an event that made us attempt to have “a vision of a new social order: a society where God reigns, where women and men are empowered to achieve social justice, economic equality and ecological wholeness.”
From the many books written after those days at Edsa, we read stories and saw pictures of religious men and women, families, braving the tanks, praying and hoping for peace. We gave inspiration to many countries worldwide. It was a peaceful revolution; with the thousands upon thousands of people gathered at Edsa, how many died?
Gathered to mark the 31st anniversary of Edsa, we asked ourselves: What happened to our dreams? The Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines is steadfast in its “constant efforts to embody God’s mercy” and “shall continue to discern Gospel imperatives that are inclusive and that uphold the inherent dignity of humanity and creation.”
“Encountering God in human vulnerabilities and in the lives of the poor and marginalized is the wellspring of our courage to seek new ways of being and becoming Church,” we say, adding:
“On the other hand, steadfast in our mission to be witnesses of God’s mercy and compassion, we will not waver in our resolute stand against government programs, policies and directives that diminish human life and violate the rule of law; perpetuate poverty, corruption and contractualization; disregard human and women’s rights; and endanger our ‘common home.’” (Laudato Si).
In July 2016 we said we were “alarmed at the increasing number of extrajudicial killings seemingly perpetrated in the name of the government’s drive to stop drug trafficking. The execution of suspects, without due process of law, is a violation of their right to life, the most basic of all human rights.”
How many deaths? Let us pray for the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings. Congregations of women and men respond to the need of the poor as their various charisms impel them, but are also encouraged to reach out to those families. Let us pray for those in our judiciary that they may guard the dignity of human life.
As we pray for transformation in our country, for our President, we also pray for each one of us that we may also be transformed, that we may not fear, that we may respect one another, that we may not destroy the dignity that God gave us. We might not have the same religion, but we share our “common home,” prepared for us by a compassionate God who loves us all.
As we remember Edsa, let us be mindful of the God who created us, the God who tells us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Regina Kuizon, RGS, is Philippine provincial of the Religious of the Good Shepherd and chair of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines.
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