Celebrate we must
Twenty-nine years after Edsa, the dream seems to have curdled into a sense of disappointment, disillusionment, disappointment. Malacañang says it has opted for a more “quiet” observance of those heady days in February 1986, a more muted celebration. And in an absurd parody of the Edsa revolt, the occasion has been and maybe will even be coopted by groups seeking the ouster of P-Noy, using the sad events at Mamasapano as a trigger and excuse.
I for one think it’s about time we turned the Edsa commemoration from a grandiose public event to a more private occasion, a time for those who still remember those events—and our numbers are slowly but surely dwindling!—to reflect further on what we could have done to keep the spirit of those days alive.
Indeed, there is a sense these days of the dreams of Edsa souring, of people who once occupied the streets of the city, pleading with soldiers onboard tanks to think of their countryfolk, turn into disgruntled citizens finding nothing right with our government, even our country.
An occasion that once bolstered our pride, our euphoria at giving the world the gift of a peaceful revolution—our “handog ng Pilipino sa mundo”—has turned into an embarrassing memory. It’s as if the problems, disputes, and disagreements of the nearly three decades past have turned our single greatest accomplishment into our single greatest error.
Well, I don’t think so. I think our task at hand, more than ever, is to hold on to the bright and shining dream of Edsa. Precisely because its promise has remained unfulfilled, the more we should stay the course. The more we should pursue the ideals that fueled the ridiculous courage that pushed us to leave our homes and surround the camps along Edsa, even if we knew the full force of the Marcos military could soon be unleashed.
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Maybe the celebration need only be calibrated in terms of ambition and gloss.
In the beginning, the goal seemed to be to recreate the scene at the original Edsa event, gathering thousands of folks along the highway, restaging the “reunion” of forces as they crossed from Camp Aguinaldo to Camp Crame.
In later years, as the numbers dwindled visibly, the Edsa observances took on more “developmental” themes, such as job creation and social services. Maybe this year we will drop all attempts to create a fiesta atmosphere and turn the commemoration into a more “prayerful” occasion. Those with a reason to want to still celebrate Edsa 29 years after the fact can still do so in the privacy of their homes, in churches, in all sorts of public spaces.
It will only mean a change of tone and attitude. It’s time, indeed, that we stopped judging the popularity of all post-Edsa administrations by the numbers of people gathered at this time of year, the grandness of the events, the euphoria they create.
Inevitably, the glory of an occasion deflates as time goes by, as fewer and fewer “survivors” remain. I still remember from childhood that the parades of Independence Day invariably featured some old guys clad in the pale blue Katipunero uniform. Now, of course, those surviving revolutionaries are gone, as are many of our World War II veterans and survivors. But still we are obliged to celebrate, not just in their memory, but also to continue to honor their gift to the nation.
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So celebrate we must. Celebrate we must because Edsa is still one of our proudest moments. We must continue to remember and recollect because the generations that follow—especially those who have no memory of what went on before those heady days—need to be reminded of the demands of citizenship, of what it means to be Filipino.
Celebrate we must because we need to connect the Edsa events to all other proud moments in Philippine history—the revolts and uprisings launched, against all odds, against Spanish colonial rule; the bravery and accomplishments (but also the treason) of our heroes; the fierce resistance we put up against the Japanese; the continued struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.
Celebrate we must because in these times of noisy recrimination, we need to boost our national morale, to keep each other’s spirits up. We need to look back and remember the days when we were young and foolhardy, because the throwback to our youth should consist not just of retro wear and old songs, but also of memories when our motivations were purer and our dreams fresher. When WE were purer and fresher!
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In terms of life timelines, the Edsa Revolt may be in the throes of what is known as a “quarter-life crisis.”
This is the time of life when the sheen of early adulthood, so full of promise and potential, begins to dull a bit, what with unfulfilled ambitions and disappointing results. This is the time of life when an early reassessment is called for, when one begins to question one’s direction, leading for some to a radical U-turn or an entirely different road taken.
So it is perhaps with our memories of Edsa. Not that we have begun to doubt its happening, or even to regret it. But rather, that we now ask where the visions that propelled our courage have taken us, and if it isn’t time that we began to forge new dreams, different expectations.
For sure, some personalities, since discredited in the years since Edsa, have tried to revive those early days on the excuse of seeking to “transform” the country. But we have gotten over them, and they should be told their time has passed. The dream may have grown stale, but we can still revive it.
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