friday afternoon, feb 21. attended my first pocket lectures symposium, actually the first ever symposium, on the EDSA revolution, presented by the Philippine Historical Association and the GSIS Museo ng Sining. met my first filipino historians, dr. luis c. dery (la salle), dr. evelyn a. miranda (u.p., retired), dr. evelyn songco (ust), and, last but not least, prof. xiao chua (michael charleston briones chua, la salle) who is doing a great job talking philippine history, EDSA especially, on mainstream media, and whose story-telling, with power point visuals and funny asides, including a really mean (as in, galing!) vocal impersonation of marcos, was a hit with the audience of future history teachers. also gave brief remarks of thanks and remembrance, and finally met ryan palad of the GSIS museo who graciously shared with katrina maps of old manila for Revolutionary Routes back in 2011.
saturday afternoon, feb 22. off to Casa Roces (near the palace) for my first book club (Flips Flipping Pages) affair : FFP discusses EDSA UNO… moderated by honey de peralta. The group started reading the book some two months ago to be ready for a discussion, first among themselves, and then hopefully with the author, in celebration of EDSA. and it was a blast, talking with this young group — mostly still kids when EDSA happened — who had actually read the book, and being asked unexpected questions. i had thought they might ask to be clarified, or that i might be challenged, about my sequence of events and deconstruction of the four days (ten days, actually, starting with the crony boycott). instead they were eager to level it up, what to do, where to begin, how to spread the word. public TV? children’s stories? comics? what would it take to galvanize people into rising against PDAP and effecting change via another EDSA? hard questions. but a lot of optimism, and passion. there is hope.
sharing here a post on the book club’s facebook page that gladdens the heart.
While I watch with fascination and detachment the massive protests against abusive and dictatorial governments being played out in the grids of cyberspace and urban space of different countries (most recently Ukraine and Venezuela), it seems apt and timely that my bookclub Flips Flipping Pages is discussing EDSA Uno Dos Tres by Angela Stuart-Santiago for this month. The Philippines in 1986 staged after all the first peaceful revolution effectively seen by the rest of the world (Portugal was actually the first in 1974). This fly-on-the-wall, blow by blow account from the key players and luminaries of the historic four days leading up to the revolution is a riveting and revelatory read. Using personal interviews, articles, memoirs, letters and book analyses, Stuart-Santiago parses and weaves together a chronological story that brings to life the snap-second, seemingly arbitrary decisions made by fallible people that actually changed history. A colonel decides to defy orders of his superior to fire at point blank range to the army camp holding the rebel leaders; Marines refusing to tear-gas the crowd, paralyzed as scores of protesters hugged the barricades; a general’s decision to support the rebels rather than the government demoralizes Marcos military allies and turns the tides; Reagan’s last-moment call for a defeated thought still-defiant Marcos to give up; the military unable to find the radio station they were ordered to destroy, which is located right behind the Palace. Stuart-Santiago’s perceptive and moving “deconstruction” in the last chapter underscores the transformative power of process rather than product, the way it expands consciousness and imagination, the way it inspires solidarity and courageous, even heoric action; even as she mourns, and with this I am in complete agreement, the missed opportunities to effect real lasting social change through the previous three EDSA revolts.
I myself am not so pessimistic. I see these episodic revolutions as a necessary and healthy part of nation-building and statehood, which could take decades and in other civilizations, even centuries; in some cases the flexing of muscles of a non-politically conscious class, those of the poor and downtrodden, as with EDSA 3; in others, civil society’s outcry at the curtailment of their freedoms. I believe that there IS a limit to the kind and level of abuse that the human being can endure, and our attempts and efforts to bring about social justice and change can only be slow, experimental, and provisional. But I do hope that with our forays into peaceful revolts, our failing democratic struggles, our half-hearted political movements, all these irrational emotions and outrage amidst chaos, we are growing, we are learning new ways of participation, mobilization, and organization. For me, Angela Stuart-Santiago’s book is fresh and vital because it inspires me to keep going even as we go very slowly (but that’s only because we’re going far!) and to hold on the EDSA dream. 5 stars.