Edsa 2016 engages the millennials
IF PREVIOUS Edsa People Power celebrations were bathed in nostalgia and joyful festivities that simulated the dancing in the streets in the heady days of February 30 years ago, this year’s program of activities deliberately departs from that. The reality check had to happen in order to appeal to the youth, who have become the target audience that must be urgently addressed. After all, they were yet unborn in 1986 or literally babes in the woods then, and had no history textbooks to enlighten them on the evils of martial law and the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship. They are also the true beneficiaries of the restored democracy.
The Edsa People Power Commission (EPPC) headed by former technocrat Cesar Sarino and executive director Maria Vargas Montelibano is the government agency deputized to lead the annual commemorations.
In remembering the heroes who sacrificed and gave up their lives for the restoration of freedom and democracy, the theme is “Pagbabago: Ipinaglaban N’yo, Itutuloy Ko!” The commemoration formally began several days ago with the conversations of youth delegations from different sectors with resource persons who have first-hand Edsa experiences—labelled TalaKalayaan, the portmanteau of “talakayan” (discussion) and “kalayaan” (freedom). Hurry, while the remembering is fresh.
Rather than traditional lectures, such World-Café-styled, small-group interactions have proven more informal and welcoming for the youth. Nothing like the old-fashioned, sitting-around-a-fire storytelling scenario of yore. These dialogues were held in historically significant places like Camp Crame, Club Filipino, and Mendiola.
“Iskoolmates” is a debate among students on issues regarding democracy and the continuing mission of Edsa, to be aired on PTV-4. A special forum on “Edsa Treinta: Are We Still Worth Dying For?” aims to discuss critical issues regarding the gains of People Power in relation to today’s society.
Tomorrow, the EPPC launches its third book in a series for young readers in partnership with Adarna Publishing House. What could be more hip than a graphic novel titled “12:01,” written by Russell Molina and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo, both acknowledged talents in literature for children and young adults? The title refers to the dreaded curfew hours of martial law, during which a gang of friends go through an awakening.
A modern music video using social media and produced in partnership with the Foundation for Media Alternatives will present the facts on martial law that today’s revisionists are altering. This format eases the viewers’ access to historical facts and figures. The production team is headed by author Susan F. Quimpo, who knows only too well whereof she speaks as “Subversive Lives,” her memoir of the martial law years that she wrote with her brother Nathan, documents a family adversely affected by martial law, with the death of two brothers. (And revisionists claim that the horrors of martial law never happened, and that it brought the country such good?) Award-winning playwright Rody Vera partners in the production of “Martial Law Chronicles.”
Much-anticipated is the People Power Experiential Museum that is meant to take viewers through the martial law nightmare, and the redemption that came through Edsa. Yes, it is reminiscent of America’s Holocaust Memorial Museum that many may be familiar with, and, thus, it is not meant for young children who may be traumatized. Perhaps it is best that the persons directly behind this project are the millennials themselves being addressed.
Assistant Secretary Celso Santiago of the EPPC, who was only five years old in 1986, cannot remain dry-eyed as he speaks of the museum project, his baby. It will be mounted in Camp Aguinaldo and open to the public free of charge on Feb. 25-26. But not to worry, as there is clamor and support for it to be housed in a more strategic and public place. It is organized into several halls that one travels in the company of a tour guide assigned to small groups of visitors: Hall of Deadly Sleep, Hall of Orphans, Hall of the Lost, Hall of Pain, Hall of Forgotten Martyrs, Hall of Awakening, Hall of Reality, Hall of Action. One of the halls features an armored personnel carrier actually used in 1986 and found in storage in the camp. It is best to experience it yourself.
Sarino, Montelibano and commissioner Emily Abrera intend the spirit and the goal of this year’s program of activities to continue beyond the EDSA@30 commemoration—toward the social transformation, the true revolution for which you and I still aspire for Philippine society, with the sharp disparity between the privileged and the marginalized finally blurring.
An amusing note is that for the traditional “Salubungan” program at the People Power Monument on Feb. 25, where President Aquino is the guest of honor, the children of the Edsa heroes and other youth leaders will be at the reenactment, as the “original” elders may no longer be able to withstand the physical rigors. But former president Fidel V. Ramos proudly says he will still make his annual leap after his wreath-laying at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
May this year’s program instill the fervor and renew the conviction in all of us to work toward the common goal of a country that will truly be a haven for all its citizens. (For more information on these events, call 784-4286 local 4506 or e-mail [email protected].)
Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is chair of the National Book Development Board, a trustee of Teach for the Philippines, and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.