Ateneo PolSci Bloggers

History Lessons

In Culture, History, Politics on February 26, 2011 at 3:22 am

By: Ross Tugade

This week’s EDSA euphoria has given me a lot of room for contemplation, not only because I’m currently in the process of finishing my Master’s thesis about People Power 3 and the EDSA narrative in general, but also in light of what’s happening right now in certain parts of the world where people are beginning to stand communaly against unjust socio-political structures.

Ever since the African-Arab revolts have erupted, I constantly hear smug remarks from some fellow Filipinos that “we did it better in ‘86” because the almost-miraculous rate by which people flooded the lanes of EDSA happened before the age of the internet and social networking sites. The EDSA People Power Revolution is indeed a source of pride for my people, but I would like to think that what Tunisia and Egypt have accomplished should remind us as well of the still-monumental task of deepening democracy and equality in our very own land. With what is transpiring now in another part of the world, I am humbled as a student of politics, a Filipino, and more so as a human being.

To our brothers and sisters in Tunisia and Egypt: the road to democracy and freedom is long and hard, and toppling a dictator is only the beginning. The real work starts the morning after the revolution, when the energies and hopes of a people must be channeled into the creation of new platforms for institutional change. Celebration can be a dangerous thing if left to stagnation and complacency once the demands of “daily life” sets in. It has been 25 years since our very own revolution and we have yet to return political power to the hands of ordinary people.

To the people of Libya: keep the faith—in your power to turn the tide of history, in the power of the truth, and in the inevitability of justice. The use of force is alien to and in direct opposition with a true democratic society. Gaddafi’s reign must come to an end, and when that day comes, do not harden your hearts. A meaningful future can only unfold if one comes into terms with the past. This means forgiveness for those who were caught unwillingly in the vicious trappings of power, and swift justice for those who obstructed genuine aspirations for freedom. After the First EDSA Revolution, we had our share of mistakes—in fact, we elected two of them; one was a selfish plunderer and the other a power-hungry, oppressive liar. At this point in our history, we are still healing from very deep wounds and divisions, but we have not given up and once again made a choice to wager on the side of hope and change.

Tomorrow will be any other day once more. The bus lanes from Ortigas to Santolan will again be open, the evening news will go back to regular programming, while the ordinary citizen struggles to make ends meet. People Power is not a cure-all for all the ills of a fractured nation and its compromised political institutions; rather, it is a revolutionary memory and force of hope that should constantly remind of aspirations that must be fought for extraordinarily in the geographies of ordinary life.

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