‘Where have all the yellow flowers gone?’
Here at the Eggie Apostol Foundation, our memory of Feb. 25, 1986, remains as clear as ever. That’s because after the Philippine electorate trooped to the polls in May 1995 to choose their senators and congressmen, Tita Eggie asked herself and her friends: “Where have all the yellow flowers gone?” Merely 10 years after Edsa I, in just our third iteration of this democratic exercise, allegations of vote-buying and “dagdag-bawas” flew thick and fast among the contending political parties.
To jog your collective memory, we had senatorial elections in 1987 under the de facto revolutionary government of President Cory Aquino. We then had our first really free presidential election after martial law in 1992, which ushered in the Ramos administration. In May 1995, we elected 12 senators. They are, ranked from highest to lowest: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Raul Roco, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Franklin Drilon, Juan Flavier, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Sergio Osmeña III, Francisco Tatad, Gregorio Honasan II, Marcelo Fernan, Juan Ponce Enrile and Anna Dominique Coseteng.
In her introduction to “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” a book of essays by 10 of the country’s best writers and sociopolitical analysts and edited by Lorna Kalaw-Tirol, Tita Eggie wrote: “Had we forgotten one of the lessons of Edsa so soon? Was it not the walkout of computer programmers in the February 1986 elections that dramatized Marcos’ cheating, adding fuel to the anger of the people and later sending them to the Cory-led boycott rallies and thence to Edsa?”
Tita Eggie—being who she is—gathered a group of friends to form a foundation precisely for studying and recalling Edsa. Thus, in time for Edsa I’s 10th anniversary, the Foundation for Worldwide People Power was born. Right from the start, our board of trustees—Jose Abueva, Edilberto de Jesus, Amando Doronila, Fely Arroyo and the late Doreen Fernandez—set out to frame those four glorious days in February 1986 against a backdrop of a long and difficult struggle for freedom historically marked by Ferdinand Marcos’ ascent to power, the First Quarter Storm, and the proclamation of Presidential Decree 1081 putting the entire archipelago under martial law.
Again, because Tita Eggie is who she is, the FWWPP chose not to play the role of the dispassionate academic. Our board of trustees was fully aware that generation after generation of schoolchildren were growing up with little to no idea at all of how significant Edsa I truly is, or what citizenship and democracy mean. More fundamentally, factors like the passage of time, martial law, politics, a burgeoning bureaucracy, and an ever-growing school population had greatly eroded the capability of our schools to adequately address explicit learning goals in core subjects as well as life skills (e.g. reading and writing).
And so in 2002, the FWWPP launched the Education Revolution, probably the first education reform advocacy to call for People Power among communities to help our schools transform our youth into “citizens of purpose and vision.”
The response to Tita Eggie’s call has been continuously strong, to this day. We have had sympathetic movements like 5775, which seeks to retrofit corporate social responsibility programs toward education improvement initiatives such as the construction of more classrooms. And then there’s Education Nation, a private sector movement spearheaded by Ramon del Rosario’s Philippine Business for Education whose stated goal is to underscore the national development perspective in education policy formulation.
The academe, of course, also speaks with a clear voice in the education reform conversation. The UP College of Education, National Institute for Science and Math Education (UP Nismed), Ateneo Center for Education Development, De La Salle University, Philippine Normal University and even Asian Institute of Management, along with just about every Teacher Education Institution in the country today, have all embarked on a host of education innovations anchored on Unesco’s Four Pillars of Learning.
In his report titled “Learning: The Treasure Within,” Jacques Delors describes the four pillars (i.e. Learning to Know, Learning to Be, Learning to Do, and most importantly, Learning to Live Together) as a process of self-understanding toward “the development of skills enabling each person to function effectively in a family, as a citizen or as a productive member of society.”
And yet our tasks remain unfinished.
As is invariably the case during the days leading to Feb. 25, the Eggie Apostol Foundation receives an increased number of requests from researchers for copies of our video documentaries, namely “Batas Militar,” “Lakas Sambayanan,” “Tinig ng Himagsikan” and “Beyond Conspiracy.” We are likewise peppered with requests for whatever historical documents, write-ups and photos that we might have of the First Quarter Storm, the human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship, and, of course, Edsa I.
Most, if not all of the young men and women that I’ve spoken to over the years belong to the 25-and-below demographic. Most, if not all of them, regret that they really do not know much about People Power, or martial law; they discussed very little of these things in school.
Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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