COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
(Last of two parts)
Now in determining the level of awareness of the participants in that Edsa Revolt, we would need a survey result for that. But since no studies were ever made possible, we can only speculate on a few probabilities. I suppose that about fifty percent of the crowd belonged to interest groups. These people have a higher level of political consciousness as a result of joining people’s assemblies. Their awareness of national issues is not limited to the information fed to them by the press.
For the rest of the flock who stood up to be counted, they could carry with them a variety of individual reasons for joining the crowd. But looking at them as a collective, they unconsciously took a side of the issue at hand; that is, they rejected the snap election results. Joining the ranks became a matter of survival.
When the people provided human barricade for Enrile, Ramos, and company, they did not only do it to save the military leaders. They did it to go against Marcos, to save them from his continued rule. For a long time, the Filipino people longed for a leader that would challenge Marcos, but when their only hope in the person of Benigno Aquino Jr. was crushed after he was felled by an assassin’s bullet, they broke into mass hysteria as evidenced by the protest actions that followed nationwide.
Now here come Enrile and Ramos, two top Marcos men who represented the much dreaded military establishment openly defying the president. As in a flash of wisdom or stupidity, the people openly sided with them. Filipinos are generally bystanders but are natural gamblers and they would be willing to bet on the devil as long as they will be assured of winning. They would even settle for Cory after dismissing the rest of the politicians, as long as Marcos steps out.
We can therefore assume that the Filipino people, even though cowed by fear due to long years of domination, are collectively aware of their sad plight as to openly take power in their hands and topple the greatest ruler they have ever had.
Turning to the most unique characteristic of the Edsa Revolt is like looking ourselves at the mirror and painting the Filipinos at their best. The atmosphere that prevailed in that historical event speaks much of our being a “Pinoy;” the hysteria and euphoria mixed with feelings of fear and uncertainty were rolled into an apparent display of heroism, fatalism, spirituality, and humor.
Filipinos avoid direct confrontation if they can help it, and all the characters in that February 1986 drama were trying to refrain from throwing the first stone that would spell commotion. The major players were even civil to each other negotiating a safe way for the Marcoses.
On the part of the people, they tried to forestall any direct confrontation between the two opposing military forces. No wonder, simple acts of conciliation and mediation pervaded the air like giving food to the soldiers, singing, praying, cheering, offering of flowers and the like. The atmosphere turned even more festive after the Marcoses fled, prompting Ramos to say “it was like Christmas and New Year and birthdays rolled into one.”
In retrospect, the People Power revolt was the finest act of the ordinary citizens in expressing public opinion, of which the media nor the insurgents found no match. The people finally made evident their desire to say NO; Tama na, Sobra na, Palitan na! It was a momentous beginning for taking sides, and finally, for making a stand.