I was in 4th year high school then when a successful coup d’etat known as the 1986 EDSA Revolution happened. It was a weekend of late February, I was watching Discorama hosted by the APO Hiking Society past 6:00 pm, when Jim Paredes announced that there will be a flash report coming in that would change the course of Philippine history.
And man, it really changed the course of Philippine history!
Okay, let’s go back weeks prior to that event. It was the Febuary 7, 1986 snap elections. Classes were suspended for almost week because of the crimes and the tension brought about by the elections. 35 COMELEC employees walked out from the PICC during the canvassing of votes and seeked refuge in a Catholic church on 9 February. Antique Governor Evelio Javier was shot dead on 11 February. Then on 15 February, the Batasan Pambansa assembly declared President Ferdinand Marcos as the winner, which of course the opposition did not accept so Marcos and Cory Aquino took their oath of office as President of the Republic of the Philippines in two different locations. The idea of having two presidents was tension-filled kind of crazy that can only be found in the Philippines.
So there I was, watching a variety-talk show and then bam! AFP Assistant Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos and National Defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile announced that they withdrew their support of the Marcos administration. Then all television stations went on live coverage of the “coup d’etat”. Tension rose as one general (together with his command) after another withdrew support from the Marcos administration. It seemed like a long night. Our television and radio were on the whole time.
Then events came up one after the other, everything happened too fast — the press conference in Malacanang showing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver asking permission from President Marcos to bring military troops to Camp Aguinaldo, the call of Cardinal Sin to support non-violence in the street, and the people who started to gather at EDSA, Boni Serrano Avenue, White Plains Road, and Ortigas Avenue. It was tension-filled, four long days in Philippine history.
Relief came when it was announced that Marcos and his family fled to the U.S. and people stormed inside the Malacanang palace. You could see the opulence of the Marcoses and the damage that was done by these people on the property.
At that time too, Tito Sotto made a music video, Magkaisa, a song which he composed and interpreted by an unknown singer named Virna Lisa. That became the theme song of that historical event.
While these events were happening, and while we’re advised to stay at home for safety, I was finishing our school assignment: to read Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. How was that for comparison and contrast?
Come to think of it, there were many coup d’etat plots during Cory Aquino’s administration and all failed. Coup plotters were arrested and charged of rebellion. What if Enrile and Ramos failed back in 1986? What charges could have been filed against them?
Thirty-one years have passed and here we are: still a Third World country and divided by politics. The country is still plaque with graft and corruption, crime, and dirty politics. We might have gained freedom and democracy but we Filipinos are not yet mature enough to handle that freedom and democracy well. And as the years pass, the glory and significance of the first People Power start to fade.