EDSA@37: Passing the Test, Defending the Lessons

February 24, 2023

by IBON Foundation

Statement of the Educators’ Forum for Development for the 37th celebration of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution

This year’s commemoration of the EDSA People Power Revolution is a test of many things, most important of which is how the Filipino people would cherish and defend historical facts and lessons.

The current environment of disinformation and misinformation challenges Filipino educators not only to pass such a test but stand at the forefront against systematic attempts to overturn and undermine the EDSA uprising.

It is quite ironic that the 37th EDSA People Power celebrations are being conducted under the 8-month-old administration of the former dictator’s son. This paints an awkward situation for a country where patronage still ranks higher than genuine notions of nationalism, citizenship and social justice.

In fact, patriotism and justice are the very things being touted by supporters of the Marcos family as the reasons for their relentless drive to “correct” history and point at the EDSA forces as the ones who ruined the country.

The appalling height of disinformation and misinformation of the country’s recent past and its continuing present is the result of a well-funded machinery many observers say resulted in the election of the Duterte regime and the present Marcos Jr administration.

Vlogs or Tiktok videos containing disinformation and misinformation that are popularly packaged for social media strongly compete for public attention with established historical facts and credible reports on what the country experienced under Martial Law and the events leading to EDSA 1986. This is a great challenge faced by historians, social scientists and truth tellers.

Educators are at the center of this challenge. While political leanings can influence teachers, the commitment to established historical facts must remain. Any attempt to promote an “unwritten history” of the country or to spread fallacies, myths and malicious “facts” is not only unbecoming of responsible educators but endangers our students and future generations of Filipinos.

Our students must be equipped with the correct lens in studying Philippine history and politics. The EDSA uprising was not a mere choice between two political clans, or between a strongman Marcos and a widow Aquino. Both Marcos and Aquino were in their own ways products and representatives of an elitist, oligarchic political system presiding over and benefiting from a neoliberal market economy. Still, the people’s movement to oust Marcos was still most of all a struggle against dictatorship and for better lives for Filipinos.

The anti-dictatorship struggle was successful, yet those for further political reforms and deeper socioeconomic changes less so. This explains why many of the country’s political and socioeconomic problems continued even after EDSA.

Democracy was won in 1986, but human rights violations and oppression of activists and community leaders persisted if not worsened. The estimated US$5-10 billion in stolen wealth by the Marcos family have yet to be fully recovered. The same elitist and oligarchic system resulted in the Marcos family returning to the country and to national politics. No less than President Marcos Jr himself virtually admitted that his ascent to the presidency was needed to rehabilitate the Marcos family’s image.

What EDSA represents is not one political clan replacing another, or a political color as being stronger than another. It was the deep yearning for change of the Filipino people who went beyond family lines and social conventions of patronage to assert what their citizenship and love of country meant – that freedom, democracy and social justice are the values every Filipino must stand for. This lesson must not be forgotten, undermined, twisted or manipulated. We must pass the test of EDSA once again, and stand bravely for genuine social progress and the highest quality of governance we deserve.