My friends, as we observe the 30th anniversary of the People Power Revolution (February 22-25, 1986), which led to the ouster of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, let us consider some important lessons to be learned. First, the movement has proven that collective awareness and collaboration can have such an impact that it can overthrow a brutal dictatorship, in spite of the overwhelming odds against the people. Second, it is insufficient to merely overthrow an unfavorable government and replace it with another unfavorable one. Third, constant vigilance must be exercised by the people, and at the first sign of tyranny approaching, the people must make their voices heard and take measures in order to curtail potential, unfavorable governments from ruling.
Indeed, these are the lessons which our American allies have learned from the election and governance of Pres. Barack Obama and his government. After all, the U.S. has been (since 2009) and is still undergoing an EDSA Revolution of its own in the Tea Party Movement, although at a slower rate, a much larger scale, and with more regularity on all levels (local and national) and branches (legislative, executive, and judicial) of government. There is even a call for a Convention of States resolution (a constitutional remedy for the states under a tyrannical federal government), but I am digressing from the topic. In this commentary, I wish to focus on the People Power Revolution from an alternative perspective.
People Power need not be merely a historical, social movement which occurred in a specific place, during a specific time, with a specific crowd of people. It is and must remain, first and foremost, the natural, human yearning of the individual for liberty—which can only be cultivated through patience, discipline, perseverance, and what Mahatma Gandhi (later quoted by Ninoy Aquino) called “an indomitable spirit.”
It is understandable that sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Church. After all, sloth can lead to indifference and inaction, which may not only affect oneself, but others as well. For example, not studying, or helping others, or following traffic laws, or voting. Such actions or lack thereof affect oneself and others, thereby impacting the individual, society, and the nation.
My point is that action is the key for any concrete change. Here, in my writings and in forums of intellectual discourse, we stimulate our cerebral cortex (the gray matter in the brain, characteristic of reason and critical thinking), and perhaps, are entertained by the thoughts, ideas, or observations of others on issues, which affect us all. However, until we actually undergo a change within ourselves reflective of the values we seek in our government, all our efforts to affect social change would only have minimal and short-lived results. Gandhi has said, “Be the change you want in the world.”
Consider an American born Pinoy raised and residing in the U.S., whom I know personally. Having never been taught Tagalog by his Pinoy parents, he currently studies Tagalog and Pinoy history and government informally when his hectic schedule allows him to do so. He took the initiative (and the financial and legal burden) to become a dual citizen, so that he could participate in the 2010 presidential election and future ones to come.
During the election, he has written blogs and has inspired our kababayans to think critically about their candidates and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, so that they may make an informed decision. Due to his busy schedule, he suspended his college studies for a full year to campaign for his presidentiable, since he considered the urgency of the election and the need for the most qualified candidate. Even after the election and resuming college studies, he has remained active in keeping his American countrymen and our kababayans informed where possible and encouraging them to remain politically engaged.
His focus is so firmly rooted in the improvement of both our country and the U.S., that he has anticipated remaining single and childless for the rest of his life. He works full-time and attends college part-time in long pursuit of a political science degree for the purpose of affecting change more effectively for both countries. He has chosen to become vegetarian , since such a lifestyle promotes a more efficient use of resources, not to mention good health, which is good for the economy, environment, and one’s personal budget.
Growing up in a country on the other side of the globe, my friend is an alien to our country and to our culture, yet he strives to discover and know his cultural heritage and to serve our country, as well as his own in the U.S. (in which he has been active with the Tea Party). Since his lifestyle is contrary to our mainstream kababayans, who are preoccupied with trivial, non-intellectual pursuits, he can accurately be called “antipinoy.” However, his intentions and actions indicate he is pro-Philippines.
It must be understood, my friends, that I do not suggest you all give up lechon or sacrifice marital life or become a burdensome slave to serving our country in order to affect social change or be patriotic. By all means, “eat, drink, and be merry.” I merely wish to illustrate the dynamic spirit of People Power in action within a single individual with a vision for a better future (in both RP and U.S.), who not only talks about change, but is politically active in both countries (voting at every election, writing political commentary, and registering people to vote in the U.S.). While it seems that he is a full-time patriot, the burden for most of our kababayans remains minimal.
Indeed, any act, no matter how trivial or drastic has some effect on the world. You can start by expressing your appreciation to all those who filled the streets of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) for three days in protest of Marcos in order to give you a better future. Other simple things everyone can perform are discussed in a book entitled Twelve Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country by Alex Lacson (although I disagree with some of them).
For intellectual discourse or debate, I recommend visiting and joining Get Real Philippines, which covers social, political, and cultural topics of the Pinoy day. Another blogsite which deals with Pinoy issues and often overlaps with American politics and constitutional matters is The Vincenton Post.
Furthermore, my friends, although it is definitely unfavorable to be apathetic, complacent, uninformed, and mediocre, it is equally unfavorable to be merely knowledgeable and aware of one’s maximum potential but not utilizing it for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, or the nation. The ever present EDSA lies within our own hearts and minds, which is where are struggle must begin and from where People Power must draw its strength and effectiveness. Only then, can we hope to affect social change upon a solid basis.
Mabuhay ang People Power! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!