The seemingly inescapable reality that confronts the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution is that interest in it – and not really surprisingly, attendance in the annual commemorations – have been declining for the past years. This year, the Duterte administration had proposed that the rites be simple and quiet, a statement that was met with apprehension by a quite a few groups and personalities from the opposition.
With the waning interest and attendance, Filipinos have been starting to re-evaluate their regard for EDSA I. While for the longest time, EDSA was touted as a success of the Filipino people, a growing number of citizens seem increasingly convinced that EDSA was an abject and utter failure.
Needless to say, this does not sit well with people who still believe in the things that People Power “gave back” to the Filipino people. Journalist Ed Lingao was quoted by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR):
EDSA was not a failure. EDSA was a success. EDSA was about fresh starts, new beginnings. Booting out the old and starting afresh. The long decisions made after EDSA had nothing to do with EDSA. EDSA was a second chance. Whether we screwed up that chance or not, iba ‘yun. Katangahan na natin ‘yun. (Whether we screwed up that chance or not, that’s different. That was our foolishness.)
At first, it’s not hard to agree with Lingao, but he leaves out what I think is an important qualifier:
“Edsa was a success, but only for its time.”
Without that qualifier, an important aspect of defining “success” is not taken into account:
As time changes, the standards by which success is measured change too.
EDSA is a qualified success, because it accomplished what it was meant to do back then: get rid of someone who was deemed no longer fit to govern. In today’s context, however, there is no longer any unfit ruler to get rid of, there is no longer any revolution to be fought, and the democratic institutions that it sought to bring back are already in place. It is no longer relevant today, whether EDSA was technically a “success” or a “failure”; what is relevant now is what it resulted in.
It has resulted in Filipinos being the unfortunate victims of a power grab between influential families, with both of them just really putting self-interest above the Filipino people. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, so the expression in English goes.
If you wish to argue, on the other hand, that labeling EDSA a failure gives credence to the notion that, “the Marcos years were glory days”, there’s really only one way, for me, to answer that:
Perhaps they were, but so what?
The only real discussion that should be had regarding EDSA, moving forward, is that the conditions that fostered that revolt should no longer become reality ever again. The past should stay in the past; only the lessons from it should be carried into the future.
At the risk of repeating myself one too many times, EDSA is dead; it is best that we keep it that way.
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