Grinch of EDSA

Nearly four decades have passed since the heroic uprising of millions of Filipinos on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) sent the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. packing from the Palace he clung to for two oppressive decades. Since then, it has been annually celebrated as a national holiday since the date marks the culmination of an almost bloodless revolt that brought an end to a regime characterized by extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and widespread human rights abuses.

Unfortunately, this historic People Power Revolution, which became a national holiday, is being Grinched away by his son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. On Oct. 13, through Proclamation 368, Marcos Junior curiously omitted Feb. 25, 2024, the 38th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, from the list of regular and special holidays to be observed next year

The Palace’s attempt to justify this exclusion by claiming “minimal socio-economic impact” due to its falling on a Sunday is unconvincing, especially in light of the fact that Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in the same proclamation is designated a “special non-working day” despite also falling on a Sunday. To add insult to injury, Marcos Junior’s press secretary attempted to draw a spurious distinction between the EDSA commemoration and religious holidays, suggesting that only the latter are mandated by law.

Audaciously, the statement also claimed that “the Office of the President maintains the respect for the commemoration of the EDSA People Power Revolution.”

Bongbong’s proclamation unmistakably reveals a covert effort to obscure his father’s legacy of misconduct, graft, and eventual downfall. It starkly emphasizes the stark incongruity between having a Marcos back in Malacañang and sincerely paying tribute to the essence of People Power as a pivotal moment in the resurgence of democracy.

Previous Philippine presidents, including even Rodrigo Duterte, who played a role in facilitating the late dictator’s interment at the heroes’ cemetery and lauded Marcos Sr. as the “best president,” recognized the importance of EDSA by constantly declaring the anniversary of the revolt a special non-working holiday, even when it fell on a Sunday in 2018.

This year, Marcos Junior designated the EDSA People Power Revolution as a special non-working holiday, yet the commemoration took place on February 24, a decision he justified on the grounds of holiday economics. This marked the inaugural first of the revolt being remembered during another Marcos presidency. 

By refusing to recognize EDSA People Power as a holiday in 2024, Marcos Junior betrays his family’s intention to rewrite history and deodorize the stinking Marcos legacy of rapacious authoritarianism. This move is not merely the loss of a holiday—it is a desecration of the memory of thousands of Filipinos who perished under Marcos Sr.’s brutal rule. It disregards the millions who went to EDSA in order to kick out the dictator. It is a disregard for the very foundations upon which our democracy now stands.

In the grander scheme, this act is one of the final blows to the memory of a dictatorship that Marcos Junior has been working to suppress since taking office. It deprives Filipinos of a space to remember and reflect on the events of 1986 without the specter of a government run again by a Marcos scion who could not accept the fact that his father defiled and bleeded the country dry and got thrown out in the process by a popular revolt.

Just as the Grinch sought to steal the spirit of Christmas, Marcos Junior aims to erase the memory of EDSA from the Filipinos’ collective consciousness. The dictator’s son may be envious, for EDSA exemplified genuine unity for the nation, a triumph that he, despite adopting it as his campaign slogan, has been unable to replicate.


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