26 February 2004

---EDSA I Version

It has been 18 years since a people power revolution drove away the Marcoses to Hawaii. President Arroyo declared yesterday a special non-working holiday to commemorate the event.

Manila Times reported the event as follows: "The crowds were sparse, former allies were bitterly divided, and the celebration was muted."

The newly-installed Cardinal Rosales said mass at the EDSA Shrine and delivered a homily lambasting the people for forsaking the ideals of the bloodless uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship. His words were:

“EDSA was a call to change and repentance. Unfortunately, like most of the things we do, we have made EDSA into a fiesta. The country has not yet learned that freedom is a gift and a responsibility since the shadow of the dictatorship lingers in the government. There is a discipline and restraint in being free. There is an education to freedom."

I have long felt that the Filipino people should be told what to do. We are simply not ready to be given freedom to decide what to do with our freedom. A lot of opinion-makers say we were better off during the Marcos dictatorship. In spite of the alleged Marcos' kleptocracy, I think that was partly because Marcos was a bright fellow; he had a vision, he knew what to do, and he knew how to get it. He was a good leader.

Filipinos are not really hopeless. We are very good doers and workers. That's why everywhere in the world, you will find the Great Filipino worker, surviving, and enriching himself.

But we are not (yet) mature enough to know about the lofty ideals that goes along with gaining freedom. Like discipline. Like sacrifice. Like responsibility. No. We need to be told what to do.

As such, we need a real, good leader to lead us.

As fate would have it though, the past 18 years cursed us with mediocre leaders that further plunged our country to depths we never knew existed. We are too scarred at the moment to the point of numbness. Corruption became a norm.

EDSA I marks a point in our history when it was the right time to change for the better, but unfortunately, we blew it.

We screwed our rare chance.

Hence, everyone now shakes his head when you ask them, "Do you know where we are headed?"

So, while the ideals of freedom are still lost in translation, we must not give up. We must remain patient, even as everyone seems to have given up.

I still believe in us.

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