Reminiscing EDSA in Cebu


February 25, 2014 is a day for remembering February 1986, the EDSA Revolution which marked a significant part in Philippine history.

What happened at EDSA was the ultimate cry of years of struggle, fundamentally remembered for the intensity of its emotion and its dramatically striking and infectious symbolism of patriotism. EDSA stamped an end to the long years of oppression and underground struggles that were triggered by the imposition of Martial Law in 1972.

Barely narrated in history books, with only a few in-depth documentary films to retell that shining moment in history, the memories of EDSA are sadly becoming limited to its surface. This is particularly true to the Filipino youth of today who were yet to be born when it happened and to the rest of the nation who have not had the opportunity to participate in EDSA’s annual celebration in Manila.  Over the years and to majority of Filipinos outside of Manila, EDSA is slowly becoming a dissipating memory.

Last Tuesday, February 25, Cebuanos young and old had their day of honor as they relived the memories of EDSA in our local grounds.  And for the first time the nation memorializes and celebrates EDSA People Power Revolution in Cebu, recognizing the Cebuano’s role in fighting for democracy. For the young Cebuano generation, reliving EDSA in Cebu provided them an actual glimpse and feel of the event in history that transpired three decades ago.

“I myself was surprised by the decision of Malacañang to hold the commemoration here in Cebu but it will be a great honor for the entire Cebuanos,” Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said.

Why in Cebu

Instead of the traditional celebration in EDSA itself, the historical event was held in Cebu. It was not just the wish of President Aquino. It was also because Cebu was a significant place during the Revolution.

Cebu was an important opposition strong hold during the tumultuous martial law period.

“Cebu was the hallmark of the opposition then (in 1986). Despite not being given a budget by the national government, Cebu stood and fought the dictatorship regime,” said Maria V. Montelibano, executive director of the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) citing Cebu’s role during the EDSA revolution.

“President Cory was here in Cebu for four (4) days during the EDSA revolution. Many decisions were made here and we received instructions from Cebu at that time,” she added.

Furthermore, Montelibano said that the EDSA celebration is all about the Bayanihan spirit and resiliency of the Filipino people. She spoke about the recent major disasters that struck the country – the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and supertyphoon Yolanda.

“Again, Cebu was identified as the strategic area for all kinds of support and the distribution hub (for the Yolanda relief efforts). This is one reason why we want to honor the Cebuanos,” said Montelibano.”

In earlier press briefings, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, “President Aquino wants to be one with the people, especially those who were affected by the natural calamities, and it’s a “good opportunity” to show his “solidarity with those people affected”.

Legislator, student’s thoughts on EDSA

Matthew Velasco, college student, said he was thankful that the celebration of EDSA Anniversary was held in Cebu. He very much appreciated the reenactment of the “Salubungan” or the meeting of the military forces and the civilians during the 1986 revolution. Actor Dingdong Dantes played the role of then Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos while senator Bam Aquino played the role of his uncle, former Sen. Agapito “Butz” Aquino. The former senator, a stalwart of the August Twenty One Movement, was a significant figure in making the Edsa revolution happen.

“I was not yet born during the time of the EDSA revolution, but from what I’ve seen during the re-enactment moments ago, I felt the emotion and sentiments of the people especially when I saw the armored vehicle and heard the loud explosion of the cannons.I could just imagine how terrified and frightened the people were that time. I am grateful and proud of those who were involved and initiated the People Power; they too, are considered heroes,” Velasco said.

Congressman Wilfredo Caminero,who was in his hometown in Argao that time, was constantly monitoring the events in Manila and Cebu through television or radio.  As he recalled, what he felt mostly was uneasiness and the feeling of uncertainty.

“In any minute, in any hour, you can’t really determine what will happen next. There was this enormous display of powerin both sides. You can see the aggressiveness of the civilian people to repel the matching forces of the government.

When former president Marcos fled the country, it was a scenario we never expected. We think of him as a powerful manand I expected that he would react with violence. But in fairness to the former president, he still had peacefulness in his mind. He could have just easily ordered the bombing.That never happened. Ultimately, we can conclude that it was all God’s will.”

The congressman considers the EDSA celebration in Cebu as appropriate, very touching and meaningful.

“I do salute and appreciate the intention of the president to have it celebrated here because it is long overdue, and Cebu is really part of EDSA. It is only this time the Cebuanos and the people from other provinces, who joined us here in Cebu, were given the credit for its participation in EDSA,”Caminero added.

“If only the organizers had ample time to prepare, it could have been livelier and more colorful because we are yet to document the people, or retrace the actual event that took place in Cebu. And a lot of people who participated during those events are still here and many have yet to be remembered as part of those dramatic or historic actions here in Cebu.”

While some personalities of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution were disappointed over the decision of President Benigno Aquino III to commemorate the event outside of EDSA, Cebuanos felt privileged. The Cebuanos are also honored to finally get the recognition of being part of that momentous event in Philippine history.

After all, the EDSA spirit shouldn’t only be confined to the streets in Manila. It has to trickle to all corners, nooks and crooks of the country so every Filipino will remember and engrave it in their hearts that three decades past, brother Filipinos dared to put up a united front. They toppled a dictator as the world watched and celebrated when democracy deprived for so long was peacefully restored, that hard earned democracy which to this day every Filipino has the responsibility to cherish, nurture and keep.

Cebu may just be the beginning… Hearty Rizarri