The battle for memory is as much about the future as it is about the past.
It was at this spot I once stood, leaned my chest against the metal railing to witness the sea of humanity converging below. The Left were on the other side of the intersection, unfurling their large banner demanding the ouster of a corrupt leader. The civic society groups were at the center, cheering, and raising their hands with the Laban sign for every good news coming from the radio stations. In just a matter of hours, the speaker on the makeshift stage would announce the withdrawal of support of the military. They too would show up in that corner, lending their voices calling for a leadership change.
Just days before, I remember sneaking out of the house at sunrise after hearing some groups converging at the foot of the Blessed Mother. The group they said came all the way from Ateneo, who after seeing the good Senators weeping, and a clown dancing went to Edsa to call for the President to step down. The admin lawmakers had gone too far. The impeachment court had just lost its authority. When they voted against the opening of the second envelope containing evidence that would further press the President, it was time to do another Edsa.
And boy did we succeed.
What we didn't know is that every political force demanding the government to step down would replicate what we did and assemble at Edsa to block all traffic. They would set up camp, and like the ebb and flow of tides would swell later during the evenings. In less than three months after Ms. Gloria took office and Mr. Erap carted away to face his plunder charges, the masses would mount another Edsa. They would be crushed completely when they tried to storm the Palace gates.
We were horrified to learn the truth, that the People Power of the past that was called to restore democracy would be twisted and mangled to serve the interest of the few. It is, for this reason, no other Edsa protest was ever mounted after the third. Gloria knew this too, and for nine years - an equivalent of a single generation - she would bury the memory - in print and in spirit. The revolution that inspired so many nations to turn to Democracy would slowly fade from our national consciousness leaving this hollow notion that the Marcos years weren't bad at all.
As a result, we have kids today who knew nothing of that revolution. Of how People Power guaranteed our freedom to express our aspirations; of how that mass movement restored our right to enact change (through elections and street protest) when our leaders fail; of how, in our coming together, made us a nation of freedom-loving souls. Though I may often find it depressing how some people in authority would try to change what is already history, of how they would try to picture the years after the revolution as nothing but a series of failed promises, I still have faith in the legend.
For once our rights are suppressed (in social and traditional media); and once we see opposition leaders being dragged in the streets, bloodied and screaming while protesting against an oppressive government, we will once again come together - with beaming pride and overflowing spirit - in that corner that brought us to where we are today.