Saturday, May 25, 2024

Never Forget

by the Weekly Sillimanian | February 26, 2023

Thirty-seven years ago, millions of Filipinos across the nation gathered and marched on the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. Their goal was to reclaim their liberty by overthrowing the dictatorial rule of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, which they achieved.

Revolutions generally take years to build up and resolve, yet in just the course of a few days Filipinos showed that when united as one nation, anything is possible. In a four-day demonstration, Marcos’ 20-year rule as president and 14-year dictatorship was upended. They had ousted Marcos in a globally inspiring civilian-led nonviolent protest that would go down as one of the most momentous revolutions in modern history. 

The revolution was a manifestation of years of discontentment. When Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, he took full control of the courts and the nation entered a dark time. Under him, the Philippines’ public infrastructure soared—along with the country’s debt. Many Filipinos experienced extreme poverty while the nation’s foreign debt continued to hike. His reign was marked by a multitude of human rights violations, corruption, and censorship of the media. Thousands of his opponents were killed, tortured, or had disappeared.

However, just as we commemorate the day this dictatorship came to an end, a new President resides in Malacañang palace—his son. 

Last Feb. 23, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. moved the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution from Feb. 25, 2023, to Feb. 24, 2023.

As stipulated in the signed Proclamation No. 167, this change would be done “provided that the historical significance of EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary is maintained.”

Marcos declared Feb. 24, a Friday, a special non-working holiday to lengthen the weekend in commemoration of the anniversary. The rationale behind the change of dates was pursuant to the principle of “holiday economics,” a practice meant to benefit the economy since people were expected to travel and spend more during the long weekends. This was introduced by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Netizens debated online on the change of the anniversary date, especially with Marcos’ background as the dictator’s son. 

Filipino Historian, Xiao Chua, stated that he was not a fan of moving holidays since “it confuses people and is making them about vacations instead of commemorating.” Some netizens also agreed with his sentiments.

One said, “Valid point. You wouldn’t move the Christmas holiday or June 12th, would you?” 

Meanwhile, a comment said that nothing is changed. “It is still Feb. 25 that people can commemorate the spirit of EDSA Revolution.”

On the other end, netizens criticized the last-minute announcement. A lawyer expressed on Twitter, “It’s good that holiday economics is back. What’s not okay is making last-minute announcements for something that could have been long planned out. Some people need advance notice for a lot of things, including financial transactions.” 

Another netizen criticized the rationale of holiday economics as it requires planning ahead of time. “[As far as I know] holiday economics was used for people to travel more and increase consumption during long weekends. But it entails planning for the working public, di yung on the spot, declare agad na walang pasok, end of business day pa [not declaring it on the spot, and at the end of the business day]. And in this economy?”

Regardless of the online discourse, one thing remains true—the dark history of our nation must be remembered. The echoes of the Filipinos that marched in EDSA, calling to end a tyrannical rule must be perpetually memorialized. 

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