Feb 25, 2008

[Philippines] 22 Years of People Power

Flickr: uckhet - EDSA shrine
EDSA shrine
by uckhet.

Today Filipinos are celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the first People Power Revolution. What made this revolution so different from all others was that it was a "bloodless" revolution that didn't involve armed conflict but instead thousands of people camping out along EDSA in order to push for one thing - the ouster of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

I promised myself I wouldn't be overly political today, despite the on-going festivities, masses, rallies and demonstrations. Oh no, I tried to remain focused and watched the Oscars instead of overly following the news. It's not like ahything big is actually going to happen today. Let's face it - after a dozen year's we haven't changed much and all we've truly accomplished is breaking democracy.

That does seem like an overly dramatic statement, huh? Philippine democracy is broken. It's a strong statement, but I think it's predominantly true.

Ever since the first People Power revolution, we were spoiled, tainted with a taste of extra-constitutional means of removing leaders were didn't like or weren't confident in. Sure, there's always a valid reason for having the President step down whether it's graft, corruption, ineptitude or smoking cigars if you're against that too. Every politician is bound to get into corruption somehow, even in the most minor of ways. However the true problem comes in when (1) there are determined groups who don't like you and (2) you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar or at the very least smothered in crumbs.

We have become experts at the televised political demonstration. We make really great effigies and we roll out placards faster than you can say "Mendiola Bridge". We have hot spots already organized - key rally points will always be the EDSA Shrine, Mendiola Bridge and more recently the Central Business District of Makati City (Good PR work Major Binay!) We have people ready to handle logistics like water and sandwiches and we come up with the most creative chants to scream when the TV crews are there.

We also have a media who loves these sorts of things and will do repeated pans to make a small group seem like hundreds. Camera men are always on standby to catch the one policeman who will break ranks to beat up a protester and we have people who are really lousy at estimating crowd sizes and we go on to overly bloat the numbers hour after hour after hour. Now that's really good convenience and planning right there.

We never seem to be happy with our leaders anymore. Why is it in other countries leaders like Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush manage to survive scandals and end their terms, or better yet get extended? Why is it we seem to expect so much from our leaders such that if they make the slightest mistake, someone is bound to be filing an impeachment case as soon as possible.

The first People Power was practically a spontaneous gathering of people who had no idea what was going to happen given they had risked so much by going out that day. They were rallying against a leader who had committed innumerable travesties that even the international community knew about and yet did nothing. Now we complain about all mistakes and organize a quick demonstration just like that and make the motions of marching. They never manage to tap into the collective social consciousness of the majority anymore and thus their demonstrations will always be shams and we'll never really the same kind of People Power that we first experienced and changed the world with in 1986.

The lesson here is not about the need to fight apathy or find more effective means of convincing people to rally in the streets. The lesson here is to be smarter about things and vote smarter leaders instead of popular ones. We're stuck with our current leader for at least another year and then the cycle begins again whether because they finally manage to get GMA removed from office or the next elections come along. We don't seem to have the patience for the natural progression and feel it's important to remove any leader who is found guilty of something.

It's a real shame when you think about since the economy has been doing rather well and we were doing decently well in the internationals relations department up until we started creating camera fodder for the international media groups covering the rallies and demonstrations.

Happy EDSA Revolution Day indeed.


  1. Hi po good afternoon. :D
    My name is Faye. I am wondering if maybe I can ask you some questions about blogging? My group is currently doing a short research paper about gay bloggers in Manila. Perhaps, you can answer some questions for us? Kung pwede lang po, at kung may time po kayo. Kahit po email ko na lang yung questions. Maikli lang po hehe. Thank you po. Have a nice day :D ~ Faye (my email add: bhj_amorado@yahoo.com)

  2. Hi Faye,

    I've already sent you an email - I'll be more than glad to help.