After 30 years: a voice from the past resounds

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What has the ‘EDSA revolution’ really done for us?

The following article by Magdalena Torres first saw print 30 years ago, shortly after the “EDSA revolution.” After all these years of celebrating “EDSA people power”, we ask ourselves again: What has the so-called Feb. 25 EDSA revolution really done for us?

Soldiers aboard an armoured vehicle give flowers to people during the 30th anniversary celebration of the EDSA People Power Revolution in Quezon City, February 25, 2016. (Maria Tan)

It is interesting to note that in spite of the “miracle at EDSA” the people of this only Christian nation in Asia have remained loyal to anyone but Christ. Note the various factions we are thanking for the so called “bloodless revolution.” Believers in the US supremacy maintain that it is the American intervention in Philippine affairs that saved the Filipinos from a bloodbath. Fans of the Enrile-Ramos block insist that the “bloodless revolution” would not have happened without their heroes’ crucial change of heart. Marcos sympathizers assert that there surely would have been bloodshed had it not been for Marcos’ love for his people. A foreign correspondent writes that the television cameras (notably those which recorded for worldwide viewing the Marcos-Ver “debate”) are to be credited for actually having prevented carnage among our people. And advocates of “people’s power,” led by the involved clergy, of course, are just as quick in claiming it is “our rosaries” that brought about the “miracle.”

While each may be valid in its own right, all these claims, however, have one thing in common; they all attribute the almost bloodless revolution to human cause, thus further dividing this Christian nation into segments none of which seems to have absorbed the message of Christ from the “miracle.”

I recently bumped into a priest I had not seen for months. To my smiling “How are you?” he exclaimed, “We’ve won! We’ve won! It’s over! All efforts didn’t go to waste! Marcos is out!”

I must admit it struck me dumb, but only because I was asking inside, “Lord, where is this country heading for if all the evils our priests cared to fight were those outside of ourselves?” But I quickly rode along and asked him, “We’ve won? You mean, we’re now all on the side of God?”

The priest, unsmiling now, blurted out, “What do you mean we’re now on the side of God? We won because God has always been on our side, right from the start!”

I switched to another topic, but the brief encounter was to flash on and on in my mind, like a yellow traffic light that wouldn’t be turned off.

I view the “miracle at EDSA” as an act of Divine Mercy, a blanket absolution granted to an unrepentant nation of blind followers and blind leaders.

Imagine what would have happened had events pursued the logical conclusion our human actions were leading them to. We had sown so much hatred around us then that we deserved nothing less than a national tragedy to make us learn our lesson, yet God chose to send us His love instead, and like the proverbial rain that falls on both the just and the unjust, His forgiving hand came to preserve a whole nation bent on destroying itself. In that momentous event that nobody expected, Jesus Christ—with knuckles swollen from knocking on the door of our hearts—once more cried, “Let me in!” And He is still weeping, because our hearts have remained shut.

Yellow confetti showers the People Power Monument during the commemoration of the 30th EDSA People Power Revolution in Quezon City, January 25, 2016. (Maria Tan)

We are back in the rat race, and human folly may yet reduce the “miracle at EDSA” into just another tool for attracting tourists’ dollars to our shores. In the euphoria following this Christian nation’s miraculous escape from a bloody confrontation, Christ is all but forgotten. Our idolatry goes on. A lady president is deified as “a goddess in the Pantheon of democracy,” lionized as a “Joan of Arc in a yellow tunic.” We’re still groveling before our colonizers as the true guardian of our welfare. We’re still counting on men with guns to bring us peace. We continue to take the word of the media—especially foreign media—as gospel truth. In a mad play for power we threaten to draw the blood we claim our fallen idol refused to shed. And we are in greater danger than ever of clinging to our pagan ways to bring about Utopia. How thankless can we be, that even in “gratitude” we must grab the glory for ourselves?

“But we thanked God for the miracle, didn’t we?” Perhaps a million of us would cry thus, citing one impassioned celebration at the park where we flew balloons and shamelessly hailed Cory with much greater zeal than we’ve ever done for Mary. And we go on “thanking God,” here and abroad, all the while betraying the Eucharist as our priests wore yellow stoles instead of the season’s liturgical purple. Feverish with false joys and unexamined victories we come to our houses of worship burning with politics instead of prayer. We call this thanksgiving?

How much longer must we remain deaf to Christ? How can God’s kingdom come when we do not want to dethrone ourselves in our hearts? The “miracle at EDSA” is not a reward for our efforts. It is part of a Divine Plan for this only Christian nation in Asia: God allowed the evil in us to drag us down to such depths so that we may finally see that only He can lift us up again. How can it be a reward when all our efforts were leading us to hatred and divisiveness?

Let us be humble and admit that we did not cause the miracle—it was God who willed to save us from ourselves in spite of the self-serving prayers we uttered when we found our necks stuck on the chopping block. How dare we say our actions, our prayers, prevented bloodshed? Who moved us to pray when blood threatened to rain on our picnic?

What a shame that the face of Christ continues to be spat upon in a Christian nation! We are not thanking God at all—we are merely using His gift to puff up our egos. Since the “miracle” we’ve been boasting: I was there. I’m proud to be a Filipino. Look at these pictures?that’s me in front of the tank. Galing, ano? Two days ago, at a movie house, I sat next to man wearing a yellow shirt with a picture of a tank that says “I WAS A HUMAN BARRICADE” in big bold red letters. I found it ironic that someone who could stop advancing tanks could not stop himself from littering his surroundings with butong-pakwan shells.

It is saddening to think that in spite of the miracle we have remained slaves of sin and habit?look around, the danger signs are everywhere. Did this Christian nation merely change her dress for the benefit of the foreign media? Thanking God for a miracle means acknowledging God as the only Power in our lives. This Power deserves more than just token gratitude. What is a miracle for if it comes into our eyes and our ears and goes out of our mouths without touching our hearts? Did God give us this gift only so we could slap His face with it? Or only so we could brag to the rest of the world that we are special children of God?

If we sincerely want to thank God we will make Him “Number One” in our hearts. We will make an honest effort towards change through individual conversion. The “miracle at EDSA” is Christ’s invitation for us to expand as Christians. Let us raise the quality of our worship, deepen our faith, heighten the levels of our prayer, and pray for a constant awareness of God’s presence, so that one day when each of us will have enthroned the Christ in our hearts, we may know what we mean when we say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

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