What the Edsa revolution was all about

Last Wednesday, I had the chance to participate in De La Salle University – DasmarinasEDSA Youth Day Candle Lighting Activity – a response to the call for a new People Power to surface in the hands of the youth who shall be the future builders of the country.

Also, that day, February 23 was designated as the Youth Day in celebration of teh 25th EDSA People Power Revolution by the EDSA People Power Commission.

The program was simple enough, DLSU-D invited over students from neighboring school National College of Science and Technology, along with UPAC, an NGO which supported the presidential campaign of Noynoy Aquino, son of the late Cory Aquino who became President because of the Edsa People Power revolution.

Together we marched outside the campus gates and onto the sidewalk, so that people outside would know and remember we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Edsa People Power revolution.

Then we marched back inside, parading around campus to remind our own fellow students of the importance of the occasion and to encourage them to take part in it.

EDSA Youth Day Candle Lighting

It culminated in a short interfaith prayer service and candle-lighting ceremony in which testimonies from DLSU-D’s own ranks who were part of the Edsa People Power revolution were heard, aimed at further reminding the youth of the task now at hand – continuing the revolution until the suffering of the Filipino people have been eliminated.

Though I have my own convictions on the role of the youth in moving this country forward, it is not necessarily rooted in the precepts and doctrines that arose from Edsa People Power revolution. It is the not the revolution I had mind, but it’s part of my history now and make no mistake I am proud of that history.

I just cannot find the words that will help me answer this question with satisfaction – what was the Edsa revolution all about?

So I am thankful to have found refuge in this remarkable speech made by the so-called ‘Dreamer of Edsa’ himself, the late Chino Roces – one of the few who have been in opposition to the Marcos dictatorship long before the late Cardinal Sin made the call to flock on Edsa and bring down that dictatorship.

I share it today believing that every Filipino will find something, if not all of it, in it that will rekindle the fire that has moved our people to greatness.


Response on being awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor, Degree of Chief Commander

(Malacanan Palace, Manila, June 26, 1988)

Mrs. President, My Dearest Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I accept the honor you have just given the Filipino people through me. I accept on behalf of countless faceless and nameless souls whose names we do not even know or remember, but whose deeds in defense of democracy, freedom, justice, truth, and peace are now engraved for all time and clime in the memory and in the heart of our nation and of all nations and peoples via the photograph of the Filipino woman slipping the stem of a rose into the barrel of a soldier’s rifle at Edsa. And then there was freedom regained.

To many of us, it was like a sequence from a dream which had its beginning in September 1972 when liberation from tyranny seemed elusive. It was the Impossible Dream, but only for those who accepted defeat out of indifference, apathy and cowardice. But for those who believed, and still do that ours is a nation of heroes, fifthy-eight million strong, it was a dream that would transform into a totally different Philippines of righteousness and hope.

For me, that dream goes on. For Edsa was just the beginning. And the dream of a Filipino nation – of freedom, of justice, of equal opportunity, of peace and brotherhood – must remain in our consciousness and conscience at all times, in all climes, True, it is the dream of the innocent. But it is also the dream of the brave and the heroic. And we must all keep on dreaming because those who never dream no longer have hearts that beat or breath that inspires or faith that overcomes.

Last night, I had a dream.

In that dream, you and I were in this very same room of Malacanan. The dream did not have an honoree. We were just here together – all of us with no defined role. The President was seated just as she is now, between Pacita and me, just as we now are. From what I can now recall of my dream, we were just staring at each other, there was total silence from many minutes until-until the President turned to me and said: “Chino would you please give me some unsolicited advice?”

I then quickly faced the President and repiled: “Cory (if I may call you such now, Mrs President) you know I will, because not even in my wildest dreams will I ever deny you or your littlest wish.”

Being the dreamer that I am, permit me then to go on dreaming in this autumn of my life. And so I give the unsolicited advice to you, Cory, and to all of you, my friends.

Please allow me to remind you, first: That our people brough a new government to power because our people felt an urgent need for change. That change was nothing more and nothing less than of moving quickly into a new moral order. The people believed, and many of them still do, that when we said we would be the exact opposite of Marcos, we would be just that. Because of that promise which the people believed, our triumph over Marcos was anchored on a principle of morality. And that for our people was and is the bottom line.

It was not the rice, roads, bridges, water, electricity and such other mundane things that people expected of us. It was, and is, much more: A moral order led by you Cory, and by you, my friends now gathered here. To our people, I dare propose that the new moral order is appreciated in terms of our response to graft and corruption in the public service. We cannot afford a government of thieves unless we tolerate a nation of highwaymen.

You will also recall that the thirst for justice was and remains the utmost desire of our people.

But even while we do all these, I must remind you again that the most understandable concept of the delivery of justice, in the perception of the Filipino, is the one that clearly implements a system of reward and censure. Yes, the Filipino forgives, and perhaps he has even forgiven those who raped his motherland, butchered his liberty and his sons, and degraded his dignity.

But he will never fogive us if, in the act of “reconcillation”, we fail to exact justice, if in the process of making the criminal pay his debts to society, we instead prove that crime pays because of our compromises and deals with the offender. And most important, if we the victors in the 1986 drama of good versus evil, show the slightest sign that we too adopt one standard for the wrongdoer who is poor and without connections, and another for the criminal who is rich and well-connected, then we would be proven liars.

Then of course, we must talk of Edsa and the struggle before and after Edsa. Let us not speak of Edsa as our franchise, whether we refer to those of us who began the long march with Ninoy in 1969, or those who joined us after Ninoy was murdered in 1983. The franchise, we must remember, belongs and belongs only to our people. The struggle for freedom was not forged on Ayala Avenue. Let us never allow our history to record that what happened in Edsa was planned in boardrooms and executive suites. Let us insist that Edsa was the long-delayed outpouring of the conscience of the littlest man, the littlest wife, and the littlest child – all of them Filipinos – from the littlest house of the littlest barangay. It was the triumph of the Filipino soul.

As we speak of so-called little people, let us not forget either that those who profess to be in their service must at least know them, if not from among them. The burden on the public servant then must be the ability not only to speak for the peple but also to act for the people. Biodata reflect talent. But we must insist that public service – first, last and foremost – place a premium on one’s record of commitment to the common tao of selflessness and dedication versus the all-too-common self-aggrandizement and service to vested interests, relatives and friends.

And this can be achieved only when we decide to see who live beyond the bridge of our nose, the confines of our conference rooms, the clotheslines in our backyard, and the land beyond the river. Somewhere out there are many honest, hardworking, selfless, God-loving Filipinos who may not be a doctor or master of something, or rich, but just the same Filipinos who will labor for love of country and fellow Filipino. They are waiting to be called to serve. Open the door and let them in.

I must end now before I experience a repeat of 1985. We were still trying to gather the one million signatures that Cory said might convince her to run against Marcos. The phone rang and Cory was at the other end of the line. And she told me: “Chino, tama na ‘yang kalokohan ninyo!

Now I must tell all of you that no matter what you say, this old man called Chino will still go out to sea – there to gaze at the sky and the stars – still dreaming the impossible dream but never refusing to sleep.

For in the words of Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep…
And miles to go before I seep.”

I thank you.

Source: pamphlet, with citation and response, provided courtesy of Ma. Ceres P. Doyo to Manuel L Quezon III for the book 20 Speeches that Moved A Nation. Anvil Publishing 2002

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