“A dragon lives forever but not so little boys / Painted wings and giant’s rings make way for other toys / One gray night it happened, Jackie Piper came no more / And Puff the mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar”—Puff the Magic Dragon (Gregory Isaacs)
The Edsa I “People Power” fairy tale was once a mighty dragon that mesmerized the world, supposedly vanquishing a dictatorship. In its wake, this supposed boon on the Filipino people produced what Ceres Doyo of the Inquirer described as a wave of democracy and “empowerment.” That same newspaper also had a young reporter, Volt Contreras, dramatize the fall of Marcos and the power of Cory Aquino: That in 15 hours the regime of 20 years fell.
For about a decade, this fairy tale held captive the Filipino people’s imagination. But then, as life continued to get harder and as impoverishment grew, little Juan Pepito (the Filipino Jackie Piper) didn’t go to the Edsa I celebrations anymore.
Three creatures, however, came to this year’s Edsa I celebration--a tobacco-chomping leprechaun with his trusted gargoyle, and a pot-bellied troll. They jumped up and down to rejoice but no one else followed them. Even the little Imp didn’t come to the party. The golden Bacchanalian statue at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas stood forlorn, dourly looking down on the crossroads that saw better times of cheering throngs. Now, only motorists cursing the traffic from the road blocks to make way for the celebration abound.
What’s not a fairy tale is that Pulse Asia will soon announce the results of its “best president” survey, where on a scale of 0 to 10, from worst to best, Marcos and Estrada (both victims of the two Edsas) got scores of 7 and 6, respectively, while Cory and Ramos were effectively trounced, along with Gloria, who only got a dismal 3.4 rating!
History has judged Marcos and Erap as better for the nation than the Philippine mainstream media would care to admit. But I am not surprised by the Inquirer’s continued glorification of the two ”People Power” coups d’etat as its owners are among those who benefitted by the billions. Of course, mainstream TV is no different, with its owners earning breathtaking billions for the past 21 years. Only people who have no vested interests in keeping the fairy tale alive can see clearly, while those still singing the “Magkaisa” ditty have ended up with no clothes.
So how on earth can that claim of “empowerment” stick? With the people’s right of suffrage alone, historical Comelec data culled by former UP professor and Comelec Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco already detail how Edsa I Comelec chairmen allowed the padding of the voters’ list, which to this day has not been cleaned. Then, in terms of economic empowerment, this also cannot be found in the growing hunger ratings that afflict over 50 percent of our population today.
Volt Contreras should have dug deeper into the real stories behind Edsa I, such as this quote from Foreign Policy magazine:
“In his Heritage speech, Wolfowitz also took credit for the downfall of Marcos. The ‘private and public pressure on Marcos to reform,’ he asserted, ‘contributed in no small measure to emboldening the Philippine people to take their fate in their own hands and to produce what eventually became the first great democratic transformation in Asia in the 1980s.’”
Similarly, there are more historical truths to expose, such as how the now bankrupt AIG boss Maurice “Hank” Greenberg and Bechtel’s George Schultz, who was then the US State Secretary, destabilized the Philippine Republic. I also have the confession of one ATOM member who attests to the fact that the Ayalas opened up Shell’s spigot for all the vehicles used in their nationwide motorcades and protests.
Marcos laid out a national economic development and industrialization program which Cory dismantled with trade liberalization and de-industrialization, all engineered by AIG’s financial and economic managers.
Estrada, likewise, with his heart for the masses, reversed FVR’s food export strategy and his liberal issuances of sovereign guarantees. Soon, the foreign and local oligarchy, with the aid of their controlled media, conspired with corrupt military and police generals led by Gloria Arroyo to depose Estrada; thus, removing the obstacle to their collective plunder, through privatization and other nefarious means, of our public utilities, our National Treasury, and ultimately, the richest parts of Mindanao, to be chopped off for the Anglo-US oil companies.
Truly, the Edsa fairy tales are the last remaining myths obfuscating the nation’s path toward self-realization, emancipation and revolution. Some naïve minds still cling to these out of a presumed lack of good things to say about the Philippines; yet there has never been any dearth of things to be proud of: RP’s first anti-colonial revolution in Asia, its rich lands and seas, plus, its resourceful and creative people long sought by the world. If only all these could come together for the rebuilding of our country, our nationalist leaders such as Marcos, Estrada, Gen. Danny Lim, Sen. Trillanes and a host of others would surely have had an easier time.
The age of “fairy tales” is long gone. The hard lessons of the past two decades are not only etched among the masa as the middle class has also bore the brunt of the Establishment’s many swindles for the past eight years.
Filipinos, by and large, are now older and wiser. Only impressionable youths are left targeted with Edsa myths through the vacuous “I am Ninoy” ads perpetuated by certain quarters. To ensure that they are not fooled like the generation before, we must arm them with the truth by whatever means. As a start, fairy tales must be replaced with historical analyses and empirical reflections on the question: “Why isn’t life better today than 30 years ago?”
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