Allan Christopher Beltran
Edsa and everything under
"Kumusta na? Ayos pa ba? Ang buhay natin kaya pa ba?
E kung hindi, paano na? Ewan ko ba, bahala na."--Yano
A full generation since we mira-culously toppled a dictator and called for change, it still goes with-out saying (and I’m sure people will back me up on this and not think that this is just another "GMA Resign" whining) that the life of the average, and even the former well-off, Filipino is far from the ideal, economically and morally speaking, and the ideals that the so-called people power represented are still… well, ideals.
Private schools losing an alarming number of students (150,000 this year, according to a report in the Philippine Star), students transferring to public schools or stopping altogether to find work, workers finding themselves reconsidering jobs they wouldn’t have thought of back when they were in college and full of promise and opportunities to choose from.
If there’s one good this economic crisis (?) has done to the people, it taught us to eat our pride and take on jobs less than blue-collar. We’re not too worried anymore that people will look down on us, because everyone understands. It’s the economy. It’s the crisis.
But what is a crisis? Can we still be called in a crisis when we have been thriving, struggling in it, despite of it, for the last twenty years or so?
I was in Third Grade during Edsa I and too young to understand the magnitude of the events, let alone leave the province to travel to where the action was. I only heard about it in my grandmother’s AM radio, and remember being bullied in school by one of my classmates because he was red and I was yellow.
I also thought my elder sister then must have been pro-Mackoy because JC Bonnin, her movie idol/crush, spoke for the dictator once during a campaign in front of the Kapitolyo, in what was once a playground (now Post Office, et al).
It was brownout throughout San Pablo when I first saw Tita Cory during a victory motorcade. I didn’t grasp the significance of what was going on, but I was caught in the festive, nationalistic mood.
I was an out-of-school-youth-by-choice in 2001, and Edsa II provided great venue for my youth-angst.
Even then, the people gathered at the Edsa shrine weren’t too keen on GMA as replacement for Erap. Everytime whoever was leading the crowd onstage would cry out "Erap resign" the response was one hundred percent for it. But when GMA was cheered on, the response lessened by about 70%.
Rico Yan was there and frankly, this kid has some powers of persuasion, that people thought he would make a good politician.
Rico Blanco of River Maya on the other hand, made the kids in the crowd go wild with pride for being young, rebellious and Pinoy.
It was also during this time that Rica Peralejo’s showbiz career began to take off through her first sexy movie "Balahibong Pusa," When the emcee introducing her, Jim Paredes asked the crowd "Anong gusto nyo kay Rica" some guys near me shouted "balahibo."
The best part for me, though, was walking alongside Pen Medina during the walk to Mendiola, and sharing water which people we passed by gave us.
Fast forward five years hence: Rico Yan is dead, Rico Blanco sold out, and Rica Peralejo’s career is washed up. And Pen Medina’s son is taking over his father’s low-key politically-inspired showbiz career via a hit teleserye.
Why am I retelling all this? What’s the relevance of all these anecdotes to this article?
That we Filipinos love entertainment. We listen to movie stars. We even elected two of them as our leaders. We look for diversions.
The thing that most summarizes the whole Edsa II experience for me was one less close to a people’s revolution than people’s celebration (even though victory was still to come, if at all). Everyone was taking it lightly, comically, the crowd reminds you of a mardi gras.
I would like to think this is good thing for Filipinos, and interpret all this as the Pinoy’s indomitable spirit at work, except it reminds me of something I have read about Filipinos: "Ang pinoy hindi sino-solve ang problema, nag-aadjust sa problema." We are very good at making adjustments here and there, but we don’t really try to get to the root of things, of our problem.
And history shows it: We were definitely successful in changing the ruler, but not so the rule.
Maybe we’re taking things too lightly, humorously.
Don’t even get me started on the so-called Edsa III. What Edsa III? Frankly, it annoys me every time some journalist refer to that pro-Erap riot as people power 3.
The true power the Filipino people have is it’s malleability. At its best, it helps us deal with problems better. At its worst, it never reaches breaking point, when enough is enough.