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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 26, 2016
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with Rolly Espina

Remembering EDSA

Rolly EspinaI was watching ANC when the video in remembrance of People Power was shown and it brought back memories leading to the EDSA Revolution. That song, “Magkaisa” stirred some emotions and almost brought tears to my eyes.

It is unfortunate that many of us have stopped talking about EDSA, thus the younger generation are completely clueless about what happened then. Even our academic institutions are probably not making this part of their discussions, and I suppose it's because their younger teachers have not been part of EDSA.

Now that President Cory Aquino, the symbol of EDSA has passed away, I think in a decade or so, the People Power Revolution will eventually be forgotten, the only reminder left will be the EDSA Shrine.

This year, as President PNoy steps down, might be the last poignant moment for EDSA for who knows what his successors will do to celebrate it in the coming years.

In fact, a lot of EDSA ‘babies' have slammed the candidacy of Sen. Bongbong Marcos who is currently second in the race for vice-president, as an insult to EDSA.

While we can claim the sins of the father is not the sins of the son, in the case of Bongbong, he was already aware of what his father's administration was doing at the time they were finally ousted and driven out of the country.

The weeks leading to EDSA were pure chaos in our home. Three of my children could not be reached. At the time when cellphones were not yet popular, we had no other means of contacting them but through long distance calls to their boarding houses.

We were all worried when told all three of them, though they live in different places, had not returned home for days already.

Like the rest of the country, we prayed hard that the military would not ram down and rain bullets on the hundreds of thousands that converged in EDSA. But we prayed harder that our children would be safe wherever they may be.

I was stationed here in Bacolod and everyday had to go out for news coverage to update Manila on what was happening here as well. But while doing it, my mind was divided between work and worrying for my children.

With three missing kids, I called all the rest back home while I still could locate them. Those were tumultuous times and no one knew what could happen. Every day we woke up not knowing what was in store for us. Will the military strike? Will Marcos order the massacre of people outside of Malacañang and in EDSA? Will they flee? Where was Cory?

Those questions were repeated day in, day out. In between, I went through my old phone book, looking for old acquaintances and news sources who could help me find my children.

An officer in the military then who was a very good friend told me there was no way they could find my children in EDSA. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.

He promised me one thing, he would send a man to watch over my children's last location or where they were boarding and would inform me as soon as they spotted my kids.

Of course that didn't happen. Most probably his men abandoned post when Marcos fled the country. But he did know my children resurfaced a couple of days later and called home right after they were berated by their landlords.

Here at home, we were all up waiting for news that February 25. When they announced Marcos has flown out with his family, everybody cried and cheered and we drove to the San Sebastian Cathedral which has become the place of protest in solidarity with EDSA. There along with thousands of Bacolodnons, we chanted, we celebrated, we sang, we were hugging strangers, we were one in believing – we were finally free.

As I watched how EDSA was celebrated yesterday, marred by protests from opposition groups, I was saddened how such a peaceful revolution has become an event for dissent. Yes, we did gain back our freedom to assemble, to speak out against injustice and other issues we fight for because of EDSA. But I just wish that those be reserved for other days. I just hope that for once, we can celebrate EDSA for what it was – fighting alongside each other, crying for justice together, but nary with violence and rather by prayers.*

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