MILLENNIALS VISIT PEOPLE POWER EXPERIENTIAL MUSEUM / FEBRUARY 25 2016
Students from Kapitolyo High School watch a man being tortured from electric shock on the Hall of Pain of the People Power Experiential museum at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on the day of 30th celebration of People Power anniversary. The interactive museum, which is composed of nine halls, recreates the martial law victims struggle for democracy, including the events that led to the bloodless revolution in 1986.
INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES
“IT WAS kinda like the Battle of Hogwarts,” Jaycee, a 32-year-old training supervisor, said in reference to the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution. “I think about freedom and democracy.”
Surprisingly, despite the virtual flood of comments extolling the virtues of martial law posted on social media, an informal survey by the Inquirer showed that millennials may know more about people power than the older generations give them credit for.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are people born in the early 1980s to the late 1990s, and are 17 to 35 years old today, too young to remember the Edsa event. Indeed, many respondents credited their Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) classes and the media for knowing about the Feb. 22-25 peaceful gathering on Edsa that ended with the hasty exit for US exile of the Marcos family.
“It was a central part of textbooks that we used in school, and we were made to watch various documentaries about what happened. The ‘Batas Militar’ video will be one of those things that will haunt me till the day I die,” said JM Tuazon, 27, who handles strategic communications at Voyager Innovations.
Older relatives shared their memories of Edsa with them, said other respondents, including Sab, 28, an ER nurse. “Everything I know of Edsa comes from the stories of those who lived through it. I think about the constant state of fear and retribution… the torture of (activist and later, Human Rights Chair) Loretta Ann Rosales, the salvage victims, the question that killed (student) Archimedes Trajano, the missing and the presumed dead whose bodies have yet to be found. I think about my mom, who went to the streets in protest, and my dad, who was in San Francisco at that time, watching the news as Marcos arrives in Hawaii and praying for my mom’s safety.”
Jenny, 21, also learned about Edsa through her parents. “They were both very much involved in their respective student organizations’ call for freedom at the time.”
Others have their own Edsa memories. “I remember watching tanks and soldiers on the streets. And lots of people praying,” said Nikki Z, a household manager.
Recalled Vera Dela Trinidad, a senior software engineer: “Yellow fever! Sisters of different congregations in front of tanks. Cardinal Sin! Boxes and boxes of canned goods hoarded by my mother for fear of another war. I was curious to see lots of flying helicopters [but also] afraid because we were not allowed to go out as it was dangerous.”
Of the circumstances that led to Edsa, Glynnis Gonzales, a 30-year-old nurse, had this to say: “Filipinos wanted to end the dictatorship, have more freedom of speech, end the killings and be free from Marcos.”
Agreed Martin, 26, a manager: “I think of brave men and women who essentially said ‘F the government!’ peacefully. I feel that it’s something we celebrate yearly, but have forgotten its true meaning.”
Some respondents acknowledged those who took part in the revolution.
“I realize how difficult it must have been for people to live with such limited freedom before
Edsa. Imagine being sent to jail because you said something bad about the government on Facebook. Must have sucked big time. I feel blessed because I didn’t have to live that way. I feel proud because history saw how our people can unite and fight against oppression,” Jaycee said.
“I feel proud that through People Power, we are able to pursue our passions now and do whatever we feel like doing even in the wee hours of the night without (curfew) and the fear of being harmed,” said interior designer Ben Nasayao.
Twinge of regret
Others respondents however felt a twinge of regret at having missed out on a chance to be part of history.
Said JM: “There’s a feeling of envy, like how I wish I were part of something so noble, so revolutionary, that really changed this country.”
Echoed Eliang Navarro, 25, an events manager: “A part of me wishes to have been there—immersed in the communal struggle for change.”
El, 29, a nurse and student, feels differently. “It was another way for people to party, a way to complain because they don’t get things their way. I’m glad I wasn’t a part of it!”
Other respondents shared the mixed feelings. “I think Edsa’s one of the best things to have ever happened in our country because it united us for a sound cause… [but] now, with the rise of Marcos apologists [from] my generation, I think the efforts of past generations are slowly being put to waste, and I just feel shame,” Jenny said.
Mark Littlestar, a 34-year-old manager, added: “I used to be proud of it. But these past few years, its celebration and remembrance have been used as propaganda, a press relations and marketing [tool] by so many politicians.”
Said Guy’s Grace, 34, an industrial counselor: “I feel that the unity shown during the Edsa Revolution had died down, and we are now so divided on many issues.”
For Panda Bear, a 31-year-old software test analyst, the amount of information available online only adds to the confusion. “I’m honestly unsure on how to feel about Edsa. [There’s] too much information from the Internet that it’s been difficult to dissect which ones are true, and which are not.”
P, 21, has questions too. “What shocked me most was when we went on a field trip to Ilocos and the historian said that it was not actually Ferdinand Marcos [who ordered] the killings but [former first lady], Imelda… I wondered whether the people’s decision to impeach Marcos was right since they had not proven he really was the one giving orders to kill and arrest the innocent… So I’m having second thoughts on whether it was right that he was impeached. During his term, the economy improved. His term led to modernization and industrialization.”
For Sab, the last 30 years have changed how people view Edsa. “Now, I feel disappointed when I read posts by Marcos apologists. How they skewer facts and disregard the suffering and death of numerous victims. They glorify Marcos and don’t even bother verifying the click-bait articles and posts they see online. I think they don’t have a full grasp of the horrors of living under a tyrannical rule where criticizing the government could cost you your life. It’s frustrating.”
IJ, a quality analyst who was 4 when Edsa happened, still clings to hope. “I can’t help but pray that Filipinos can still unite for a goal and mission, and that is to have a better future for the Philippines.”
Said Tonette, 31, a director and scriptwriter: “I was only 2 when Edsa happened. I guess this is what my generation lacks: an event as big as Edsa, even a martial rule to inspire a struggle bigger than oneself, where one’s participation really counts.”