People power

Let us thank Dr. Vicente L. Rafael for sorting out the disconcerting, if not alarming, events that are taking place around us. He taught at the Universities of California in San Diego, Hawaii,  at Monoa and is currently with the University of Washington in Seattle. Among his books are: Motherless Tongues, The Promise of the Foreign, White Love and other Events in Filipino History and Contracting Colonialism. Allow me to share Prof. Rafael’s enlightening posts about People Power, Dutertismo and the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima:

With regard to People Power 1: “There’s lots of understandable cynicism surrounding yet another EDSA anniversary. Much of the negative reaction is focused on EDSA’S dystopic aftermath: The failed projects, the dashed dreams and the very sobering realization that despite getting rid of the leader Marcos, EDSA did not amount to a revolution but to a restoration. His wife, daughters, and son are back alongside their friend, Digong. But should we reduce the history of EDSA to what came after the fact? Is it still possible to celebrate it for what it was, for the experience it unleashed?

“I think what is still worth commemorating about EDSA is precisely that moment when people suddenly, unexpectedly, (I am tempted to say spontaneously) rushed out into the streets and in a remarkable show of solidarity, decided to lay it all on the line. The decisiveness forged an experience of community, one built on a common willingness to sacrifice to the point of death that momentarily overcome social divisions of all sorts. It’s the experience of overcoming and coming together — of damayan — which gave rise to the feeling of kalayaan, or freedom, that is well worth celebrating: a highly contingent and conjunctural moment that was possible only when the crisis came to a head. No one knew what was going to happen; everyone expected the worst. And yet, to everyone’s amazement, everyone stayed as the crowds continued to swell.

“People Power was the discovery that lying within each and every other was their own capacity to resist and respond to a force that lay beyond them – the power of the dictator. And with the discovery, there emerged the possibility of another truth and of another life.”

Curiously enough, this year, People Power was commemorated in that military camp where then Minister of National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile and Constabulary head, Brig. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos barricaded themselves after turning against the dictator, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Senator Enrile was present, but erstwhile President Ramos sent a representative. On 25 February, there were two contending rallies, one at the People Power Monument where “veterans” convergedto celebrate what happened on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) 31 years ago; the other which took place at the Quirino Grandstand area of the Luneta was a show of force of the current dispensation.

Prof. Vicente Rafael posted these enlightening observations: “EDSA was about solidarity and sacrifice; Dutertismo is about vengeance and vilification. EDSA faced down the possibility of death; Dutertismo is about delivering death. EDSA was too forgiving for its own good. Dutertismo is harsh and exalts violence.

“EDSA had a feminist edge with a Catholic backstop; Dutertismo has Mocha and Sass. EDSA got rid of a dictator but restored the oligarchy; Dutertismo wants to restore the dictatorship and make deals with the oligarchy. EDSA had a mixed legacy, succeeding in some areas, failing in others; Dutertismo’s legacy is yet to be determined, but so far pretty mixed: EJKS(extra-judicial killings) on the one hand, Gina Lopez and mine closures on the other; on the one hand peace talks with the CPP-NPA; on the other hand, peace talks with the CPP-NPA, etc, collapsing.

Prof. Rafael continues: “That EDSA was betrayed is not surprising. All revolutions are invariably betrayed. But, that it happened at all, and the way that it happened is well worth remembering. EDSA did not lead to democracy, but to the momentary experience of a democratizing kinship, one where selflessness and sharing made up what seemed, at least for four days, like a new republic of generosity. Like every utopic moment, it could not last. But it will not be the last.” It was not the last, Prof. Rafael, there was a People Power 2 which overthrew Pres. Joseph Estrada for plunder. (more)