Last Sunday’s (February 23, 2020) gospel talks of Jesus telling his disciples: “You have heard that it was said: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
But I tell you this: “Do not oppose evil with evil; if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer the other. If someone sues you in court for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go and carry for him his load one mile, go two miles with him.”
Jesus also reminded them, “You have heard. That it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: love you enemies; and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good; and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust.”
Last Tuesday, February 25, the nation commemorated the 34th year of the People Power Revolution which drove the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos out of Malacañang forcing him and his family to live in exile in Hawaii until his death in 1989.
The convergence of hundreds of thousands of people at that portion of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon City to support two ranking officials of the Marcos administration who led those who revolted against the dictator, was acclaimed by many as the restoration of democracy in the Philippines that was taken away when Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972.
Thus, the administrations succeeding the Marcos regime starting from the late President Corazon C. Aquino extolled the event as a day that must be remembered with pride by every Filipino including the generations yet to come.
Unfortunately however, many from among those who were participants and those who claimed to be espousing the same ideal but did not have the opportunity to be at EDSA in that memorable days of February 22 to 25, 1986, would rather that the phenomenon be commemorated in the same way when it happened.
They want to focus the commemoration on what they believe the sins and omissions of the dictator and his family members. They do not want to move on. They want to put the blame of the country’s failure to progress economically and even politically on the dictator, his family members and political leaders who do not agree with them.
These people seem unable to extricate themselves from the notion that only a total annihilation of the Marcos’ name or a continuous portrayal of him, his family and his regime as everything that is evil.
So they are aghast and mad at the thought that the present government is opting for a simple even if solemn 34th commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolution.
Men and women known to be allied with the political family that was immediately benefited from the downfall of the dictator are now shouting to high heavens that the present administration has capitulated with the surviving Marcoses. And they are claiming that the President has all the shades of a dictator. They cited the President’s decision to have the Marcos remains buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani without taking into consideration that it was the Supreme Court ruling that actually made the burial happen.
Clearly the intensity of the commemoration of the People Power revolt has been scaling down over the years. And rightly so because by doing away with parts re-living the drama of the phenomenon is denying any opportunity to stoke the fire of people’s hatred against the dictator and his cohorts.
We believe that it is only fair that Filipinos who belong to the generation of participants and witnesses – actual on site or distant – of the EDSA People Power, should have moved on a long time ago. They should have focused on efforts to bring about inclusive development for the country. They should have spared the present and incoming generations the burden of carrying over their own hatred and frustrations brought about by their failed political ambitions and economic opportunities.
And conversely, by toning down their hatred, the staunchly anti-Marcos sector of the population could have allowed the family of the late strongman and the still large number of his supporters to taper down their own anger to those who treated them like the scourge of society.
Such interregnum of political peace would have surely given rise to rapprochement that could have led to critical collaboration for the sake of a united Philippines.
But thirty four years have already gone and still, in all those commemorations, the emphasis was on Marcos who allegedly caused the sufferings of the Filipinos. Yes, thirty four years could be more than enough to recover from the misery claimed by many to have been brought about by the dictatorship.
Ironically, many of the surviving EDSA leaders and the supposed watchdogs against the return of any form of dictatorship in the country refused to close that chapter in our life as a nation. They failed to learn the lessons that were spawned by the years of the dictatorship and the EDSA phenomenon. Instead they use EDSA People Power commemoration as a venue of sowing and perpetuating hatred.
In other words, this sector of the Filipino people seems to have missed reading that reminders of Jesus to his Apostles in the gospel telling them that the dictum “An eye for an eye; or a tooth for a tooth” is no longer prevalent in God’s commandments.
In that Gospel Jesus told his disciples: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven.”
When can the commemoration of the EDSA People Power revolution be ever made a venue for national healing and calling for every Filipino to love their enemies and for making it the center of prayers for those who have persecuted them at one time or another?
For now the rhetoric of those who are talking of the desecration of the EDSA phenomenon by the government’s supposed down-grading of its significance, all point out to one thing – ostracizing those who they claim to have taken away democracy from the Filipinos and those who they perceive as in the process of bringing back the inglorious days of the dictatorship.