My husband caressed my protruding belly and felt our baby move. His smile turned to a frown as he knitted his brows, ““We need to pack up and move to the mountains.” I stood up and responded, “No, we’re staying put. I know something good will happen. I just know it.” My stubborn refusal started a minor spat when he remarked about my naivete that a civil war will soon erupt because then President Marcos will make sure he will still rule the country.
A few days after on February 22, 1986, my heart raced when I heard over the radio that Juan Ponce Enrile holed up himself at Camp Aguinaldo. There is hope, I thought. I couldn’t help getting worried though. Will the dictator budge? Will there be a civil war?
Then the call for People Power came. I told my husband he has to go. Fighting the dictatorship was a struggle I fought for as a student at the state university and felt sad I could not participate in this one big rally.
I prayed, listened, and moved around the house for the rest of the days. On February 25, 1986, I felt my baby tumble with joy inside my belly as the announcement from the radio blasted out that indeed Cory Aquino was our new president. That baby, Lauren, is now a 28-year-old lady turning 29 next month. It’s been 29 years since my joy came in a stream of tears. There were many reasons worth crying for , a sigh of relief from the threats of a civil war, the challenges facing the new President, for the citizenry who finally showed the courage to challenge the Marcoses.
I smiled and touched my belly gently, assuring my unborn baby that she will now be born in a democracy. I loved our new president. She offered hope to the future of my baby. As a new mother, I desired nothing else but peace, not the turmoil that was about to explode with the cheating of the elections done under a dictatorial regime.
A year after People Power 1, I dressed up my little Lauren with a “People Power” shirt. I can’t help feeling sad , sometime tearful at the situation we are in right now. No real change except a change in trapos, and oligarchs. I often ponder, What will the future of my children be like in the Philippines?
My second daughter came in September 1987, a few days after a coup attempt threatened our fragile democracy. My two girls are EDSA 1 babies, just like the millions of others aged 24 to 29 years old who have no memories of those glorious People Power days.
It is not surprising that an entire generation born after EDSA 1 are the vibrant youth. President Noynoy Aquino believes it is very important to engage our youth ““when it comes to the EDSA 1 celebration… to explain to them what it meant to our democracy and to pass on to them the spirit of the revolution.”
How do I exactly explain the spirit of EDSA 1 that I want my babies to pass on? Twenty-nine years later, a new era of democratic politics in the Philippines arrived. Progress has been slow. The fault does not lie with the People Power Revolution or with Filipinos as a people. The full potential of our country has yet to be tapped.
The spirit of EDSA 1 showed our capacity for greatness and willingness to sacrifice for the country’s good. It is inherent in each one of us. I thought it was enough to have a wonderful president and let her do the job. I failed to be vigilant, remaining apathetic about politics. I know now that the hope of our country lies in an empowered citizenry. It is so easy to sit in the comfort of our couch and rant as each new problem faces us in front of the television screens. I constantly discuss with my two girls about the critical issues that our country faces. Not only do I discuss about them, but I also participate actively in specific causes such as supporting the Reproductive Health Bill or pushing for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. My EDSA 1 babies have taken it upon themselves to be involved in their own capacity, with no prodding from my side.
To my dear EDSA 1 babies, and to parents who want to pass on the spirit of the People Power revolution, the power lies in you. There is only one power that can face and surmount the misuse and abuse of the powers of the presidency and that is the power of an aware, vigilant and organized citizenry. If we won’t try to know what is happening to our country, nothing will also happen to us. People need to know how things are being run by those in power. If they see something is wrong, they should be able to bring it to light. Start discussing issues with your children. Participate in an advocacy that you are passionate about, be it in reproductive health, pork barrel, cybercrime law, voters education, freedom of information or any cause that is good for our country.
It’s time we all stood up and do our share. Stand up and be counted. The hope of the country lies in you, the power of an active citizenry.
““I don’t have any formula for ousting a dictator or building democracy. All I can suggest is to forget about yourself and just think of your people. It’s always the people who make things happen.” Corazon Aquino