By DLS Pineda/he Philippine Star – Amajority of our country’s population is now comprised of individuals born after 1986. At best, whatever knowledge we, aged 27 and below, have of what went on at EDSA and martial law comes from books, classroom discussions, or personal accounts of our elders. At worst, we get them from sensationalized TV, alcohol-inspired debates and orations, or the mix and mash of social media. Or we get no information at all.
With a quick survey of the hashtag generation, the #EDSArevolution can easily be relegated into four convenient “schools of thought.” First is the realistic — “Yes, EDSA is important but times have changed.” The second one is the vindictive — “EDSA was a mistake; Marcos was the greatest President who ever lived.” The third one is the smart-alecky — “Yes, EDSA is important, but there’s no point commemorating it ‘cause nothing’s really changed.” And finally, the fourth is — “Yes, EDSA holiday! Pilipinas kong mahal!”
And since we’re at it anyway, let’s add a fifth one: What’s EDSA in the first place? I have no qualms whatsoever with people having their own opinions and versions of what happened and what didn’t happen at EDSA, I can’t help but ask: How should we “remember” what went on 27 years ago if we weren’t even there in the first place? Is the “People’s Revolution” still relevant now when the youth, the majority of the Filipino population, is so adverse, even indifferent, to the ideas of revolution, nationalism, and sacrifice for the sake of country?
The “in” thing these days is to become rich and comfortable enough to finally be able to help out — no more of those quixotic leaders or trailblazers who transcend the typical trend of “maturity” or growing up. Whether we like it or not, our generation is looking for some “new” and unthought-of-middle-way to eliminate poverty.
We’re no longer looking for Ninoy Aquinos, Lean Alejandros, Macliing Dulags and other heroes who professed such strong convictions that they had to pay dearly for keeping them. Somehow, the solutions put forward by our elders — genuine land reform, armed struggle, free education, Ninoy’s Christian Socialism, etc. — got lost in the deluge without any real, nuanced, or even valid explanation. The only rebuttal people have against them is that that those solutions are supposedly “radical” — a convenient label for anything we’ve been conditioned to think to be impossible.
Yes, the young ones might be right after all. In the absence of a radical dictatorship, we lost our radical love for our country; the type that sang “aking adhika makita kang sakdal laya” with raised fists. And “radical” began to sound like a bad word.
These days, we’re all praises for awareness campaigns on Facebook or Twitter, charity gimmicks, small, individual efforts to make life easier, etc. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, where are those who think big, with clear ideas, big actions, working on societal solutions? Does our generation even have such heroes?
Needless to say, the People Power celebrations leave me with more questions than answers. But one thing hasn’t changed: I still believe there are heroes out there; radicals who see the need to transcend ordinary human logic. They are the types who initiate changes that challenge our core.
The cliché is that it’s easy to be hard-headed, to soldier on, and to leave no room for compromise. The challenge, they say, is to find a solution where everybody’s happy. In the words of my favorite Beatle, “We can work it out.” But they forget one of life’s fundamental truths: You can’t please everybody. The world is unfair and there will always be winners and losers.
The good fight
And when you’re playing the losing game, when you’re fighting for what you believe is the good fight, to continue to hold on to your principles is the toughest, most nerve-wracking choice to make. It’s a high and cruel gamble, with nothing less than your life at stake. But its rewards are infinite.
So hold on to your principles. Fan the flames while you can.
The tragedy of EDSA is that its heroism was never really celebrated. We were, perhaps, too busy trying to rearrange our government so we forgot about defining what or who made for a hero. So we went on making politicians instead.
Now, we forget about those who fought on the frontlines. What we remember instead are the last names of those who stood under the limelight. The rest is recent history.
But who were EDSA’s heroes? No, it was not solely Ninoy, Cardinal Sin, Cory, Enrile or Ramos. It was the people who chose not to compromise. Wanting no more of the dictatorship, risking life and limb, marching with fists raised, they bloomed to their fullest potential. “Sakdal laya,” as the last two words of Bayan Ko go: to be truly free and nothing less.