The Edsa Shrine
I wasn’t here in 1986, but i watched it in television fragments, mesmerized, gripped and shivering in elation. I have relived it many times, through my sister Angela Stuart-Santiago’s writings of those historic days, and later, again, transplanted by a magic carpet of story-telling, page by page, uploading the English and Tagalog versions of her Edsa Works onto the web site: The Original People Power Revolution and Walang Himala! Himagsikan sa Edsa. I heard the tanks. Watched the swelling masses of people. The political defections. The rapidly multiplying cast of characters. The improbable convergence of disparate elements and events, fueled by years of festering anger and frustration, with the lumpen proletariat providing noise and number, marching into the crescendo of that historic crossroad in EDSA. Four days that galvanized the nation and transfixed the world. The culmination of the rivalry between Marcos and Ninoy, climaxing non-violently with the ouster of a dictator and the end of his regime of oppression and terror.
And in its wake, the birth of people power.
Years before, when Ninoy was assassinated, I found catharsis in doing a small collage artwork which I titled: WHERE ARE THE HEROES? In those four EDSA days, the hero came to life.
Seek no more, the hero. There they were. There it was, the collective hero: the masa.
Alas, it was too grand, too sublime, too extraordinary a victory to attribute to the populace. In the epilogue, everyone started dipping their fingers into the hero-bowl. Attributions and claims came from all fronts: CIA (of course, always in the cast, real or imagined), the high-end political defectors and military rebels (without us, it couldn’t have happened), the burgis-power-elites (only because we allowed it to happen). In the end, the miracle brokers won. With nuns standing their grounds on advancing tanks, a Cardinal power-player, the bloodless coup, and a populace steeped in religiosity – it was no hard-sell. The Miracle of Edsa.
A few years later, they built the Edsa Shrine.
Personally, I was greatly disappointed. And it lingers. Hey, I’m no miracle-hater. I like miracles. I like the inevitable clash of the debunkers and the faithful, the desperate application of quantum physics and singularities by the miracle slayers to the unabashed piety and adoration of the worshipers. And I’m no anti-Marian zealot either. Although I have became the nominal-situational Catholic, my roots are severely Catholic. I can still recite half the mass in Latin. I have a reassuring accumulation of plenary indulgences for my thanalogical needs and was avidly Pro-venial sin and Pro-purgatory for my certain detour needs on the way to heaven’s gates. Whenever the opportunity, I take Tiaong rural villagers to the Lady of Manaog shrine to invoke Her help in ridding them of their dastardly addictions and aberrant and sinful ways of life.
And with this affirmation of my Catholic roots, my point is: