Twenty-eight years later
“Are you the gentleman who wants to help me talk to the world about People Power?” This was the only thing Eggie Apostol wanted to know when she asked me to work for her at the Foundation for Worldwide People Power.
The FWWPP was formed in 1996 by Eggie and her good friends, Fely Arroyo, Edilberto de Jesus, Jose V. Abueva, Amando Doronila, Delfin Lazaro and the late Doreen Fernandez. Putting up the FWWPP exactly 10 years after the 1986 Edsa Revolution was a conscious decision by its board of trustees “to promote greater understanding and appreciation of the People Power phenomenon at Edsa in the Philippines and abroad.”
In a mere 10 years, even people who actually were at Edsa in 1986 began to doubt the correctness of their actions. Lauded by the world as heroes, they struggled to articulate the meaning and purpose of what they did to the succeeding generations.
The preamble of the FWWPP’s mission statement attempts to put perspective to the People Power phenomenon by saying that “focusing on the four days in February 1986, during which Filipinos mobilized to protect those who rebelled against the Marcos Regime, tends to distort our view of the People Power Revolution and the Aquino Government that it installed to power. It ignores the long and painful process that led to the confrontation at Edsa. The People Power Revolution climaxed a process that began with the First Quarter Storm and the declaration of Martial Law, and that intensified with the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. Those who study the transitional pains that restored democracies around the world continue to suffer have a greater appreciation of this reality.”
Furthermore, in her preface Eggie Apostol herself emphasized Edsa’s character as a continuing revolution toward the constitutional vision of a “just and humane society” and a government that will “secure to ourselves the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law, and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace.”
So in 1996 the FWWPP made itself formally known to the public with the launch of a complementing pair of books called “Duet for Edsa.” The first book, “Chronology of a Revolution” by
Angela Stuart Santiago, continues to be one of the most detailed accounts of the four days in February 1986. Presented in an hour-by-hour narrative, it has proven itself as an indispensable resource for students and researchers.
The second book, “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” features reflections on the various facets of Philippine society after Edsa 1986 by 10 of the country’s most authoritative minds in politics and government, the military, peace and human rights, the economy, church and state relations, the media and quality of life. (Only somebody with Tita Eggie’s stature could assemble such great talent in one compendium, which was edited also by the best: Lorna Kalaw-Tirol.)
The FWWPP pursued its mission in earnest by producing landmark historical video documentaries on martial law (“Batas Militar”), People Power (“Lakas Sambayanan”) and the Ninoy Aquino assassination (“Beyond Conspiracy”). It also commissioned the multiawarded Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros to write “Dead Aim: How Marcos ambushed Philippine Democracy” as well as Angela Stuart Santiago for “Himagsikan sa Edsa: Walang Himala.”
Eggie’s guiding principle to all the writers, researchers and video documentarists that we engaged was that the primary audience must be the youth. Indeed, how do young people who were born after 1986 see People Power?
Twenty-eight years later, if the blogs, Facebook status updates, YouTube uploads and Twitter feeds are any indication, the present generation seems to have difficulty relating to the entire era beginning with the First Quarter Storm and culminating in Edsa 1986.
Take, for instance, this blog entry by Miguel Mella of Ateneo de Manila University: “I know almost zip about the Edsa revolution. Except maybe from what I learned from the heartwarming, tear-jerking, and tired accounts of the people—who had seen the tanks, their hearts pounding … and other special tributes that’s aired regularly … but I believe Edsa’s not really about kicking the Marcoses out of the presidential throne, and the ravaged country. Nor is it really about fighting back after years of injustice, of oppression, and terror.
“It’s about the people. It’s about the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the geek and the jock, losing their status, interlocking their arms, standing together in that long stretch of highway, and for one moment, they were just Filipinos.”
With the new media, however, we can actually initiate a continuing and more in-depth conversation with the youth who clearly want to know more—and be part of—a historical event that we can all be proud of.
Today the FWWPP is known as the Eggie Apostol Foundation, and Eggie wants all People Power advocates to continue this conversation with our youth, because “in that way, the spirit of People Power that exploded on Edsa may be kept forever vibrant rather than frozen in statues and monuments.”
Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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