A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released on Feb. 23 found that 62 percent of Filipinos still believe that the spirit of the 1986 People Power Revolution, in which millions trooped along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (Edsa) to topple the brutal dictatorship of Ferdinand E. Marcos, is still alive.

The survey result may be ironic as the dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is the incumbent chief executive, having won the biggest landslide of any candidate in the post-Edsa era.

Juxtaposing the survey result and the current political climate is a clear proof that the spirit of Edsa – the struggle for truth and justice – hasn’t died down: The Edsa spirit lives on; it has never wavered, it just comes in different forms.

During those four fateful days, from Feb. 22 to 25, 1986, Filipinos fought a rapacious and murderous regime trying to extend its dictatorship by cheating in the snap elections. More than 3,000 people were killed from the time Martial Law was declared in 1972 to the time the strongman was deposed in 1986, according to the international human rights group Amnesty International.

The greed, deceit and repression of the Marcos regime were unprecedented. As he was gravely ailing at the time of his downfall, so was the country he oversaw for two decades, beset by more than $28 billion in debt, rising unemployment and widespread poverty.

Outrage over the assassination of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in 1983 unleashed a pro-democracy wave that culminated in the People Power Revolt in 1986. The Philippine revolution, in turn, triggered a tsunami of similar democratic revolutions in Chile, South Korea and Pakistan, and even influenced the solidarity-led takeover of Poland from Communist rulers and the subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Six Philippine presidents later, with their various missteps and shortcomings causing widespread disenchantment in a nation still thirsty for the promises of Edsa, Filipinos elevated the strongman’s son, Marcos Jr., to the pinnacle of power, thanks to social media machinery first fortified by the loyalists of his predecessor, the murderous gutter-mouthed Rodrigo Duterte.

Since coming to power, Marcos Jr. and his family and cronies have sought to distort history and pooh-pooh the Edsa legacy. In the anti-Edsa agitprop movie “Maid in Malacañang,” in which Madam Mandible Imee Marcos is credited as “creative producer,” they have sought to portray the People Power Revolt as nothing but bad sportsmanship on the part of Cory Aquino who refused to accept that she had lost the snap election of 1986 to the strongman. Of course, the movie doesn’t mention the walkout of the personnel of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who were being forced by the Marcos regime to fake the tally of votes so that Marcos Sr. could win. It was popular unrest against this naked display of fraud and terrorism in what was supposed to be a democratic exercise that led to the revolt and the ouster of the Marcoses from Malacañang.

As presidential historian Manuel Quezon III wrote for the Asian Sentinel five days after Marcos Jr. won in the 2022 elections, he made himself “bullet-proof concerning the past, thanks to some good luck and an even greater measure of social media brainwashing.”

Protestors marked the 37th anniversary of the People Power Revolution on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the People Power Monument in Quezon City. This is the first time the historic event was commemorated under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., whose father’s two-decade regime ended as a result of the revolt. (Photo by Josh Nikkolai F. Bravo/ The Varsitarian)

The perils of the Marcoses’ dirty tricks to future generations have reinforced the spirit of Edsa 37 years later, this time as a battle against the twisting and distortion of history. It is in this period that truth-tellers, such as journalists, must come out and give it all, whether offline or online, to stop anyone from completely changing our history for personal gain.

Journalists have the responsibility to guard the public against these distortions and false narratives. “We simply show the truth, which is the function and the task of every writer of the news or journalist here in the country,” declared historian Jose Victor Torres when he keynoted the 24th Inkblots National Campus Press Fellowship on Feb. 18. He added: “If you cannot get your facts straight, don’t write the news. Same thing with history. If you cannot get your facts straight, do not write it at all.”

But things are trickier nowadays because of trolls, bots and hyperpartisan influencers. The military of 1986 who were ordered to shoot down protesters – only to defect later on – are today’s trolls, propagandists and attack dogs ready to assail journalists on social media in the harshest terms possible for describing Marcos Sr. the “late dictator” or for quoting the Guinness Book of World Records that called the Marcos era the “greatest robbery of a government.”

Today’s generation should not be cowered; they should not let the spirit of Edsa die with them. The Filipino people in 1986 courageously stood up against the Marcos dictatorship. Their efforts and sacrifice resulted in the democracy that, warts and all, we’re enjoying today. The younger generations should conserve, protect and fight for their democratic patrimony.

The Edsa spirit lives on 37 years later with a new purpose: freeing ourselves from the chain of lies and abominations perpetrated by political diabolism and bringing back the light of truth to the people in their continuous quest for truth and justice.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.