AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The Philippine Star
The murder of Ninoy Aquino 25 years ago was supposed to silence the one Opposition leader then who was the thorn on the side of Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and posed the greatest threat to those seeking to succeed him.
The murder was supposed to secure the tenure of the Marcos dictatorship — if not Marcos himself, then his preferred successor. But like the best laid plans of mice and men, that was not what turned out to be.
The murdered Ninoy became the country’s new national hero. His sacrifice provided the spark that ended the Marcos dictatorship. The dictator who sought to perpetuate himself in power was ousted three years later – to be succeeded by the widow of the man they murdered.
To those of us who lived through all this, we are wiser for witnessing with our own eyes two valuable lessons:
1. The first is that there is truly a God who can set the seemingly hopeless course of a nation to the path of redemption. We delude ourselves if we say that the events of August 21, 1983 all the way to Redemption Day on February 25, 1986 did not have the hand of God guiding the nation to its desired liberation.
2. The second is that the Filipino is a great nation that only needs a truthful and sincere leader to bring out the best in all Filipinos. Filipinos became the toast of the world for the lessons of People Power which, sadly, is altogether forgotten and discarded now.
It is no coincidence that two of the icons of People Power — Cory Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin — are persons who take their strength from prayer. It is no coincidence that the people in EDSA were repelling tank columns with prayers and rosaries. All they had was the faith that moved mountains.
It is no coincidence that the easily divided Filipinos were united in their stand for freedom and democracy during the fateful days of the People Power Revolt. Their courage was no doubt inspired by the man who dared to return home 25 years ago despite the grave risks it involved.
The events of February 21 to 25, 1986 made us the toast of the world. The anchor of a US TV network covering the event live commented: “We Americans like to think that we taught the Filipinos democracy. Well today, they are teaching the world.”
It was George Bernard Shaw who wrote in St. Joan that it is bad enough if people do not know when they are beaten, it is worse when people do not know when they are victorious. In other words, it is bad enough if you do not learn the lesson of your mistake, it is worse if you do not learn the lesson of your own success.
Alas, we Filipinos taught the world the perfect execution of People Power sans violence. And yet, instead of using People Power to strengthen our democracy and make it work, we discarded the priceless lesson we taught the world.
The lesson of unity gave way to ‘kanya kanyang lakad’ (paddle your own canoe). Weak because we are un-empowered, still we allowed ourselves to be divided and thus be easily manipulated and exploited.
Since few Filipinos really cared to do something about the problems of the country, we find ourselves the biggest victims of the continued slide, our economic retardation. Richer than Japan in natural resources, we cannot even provide our people with basic education and health services.
The majority of Filipinos thinks and believes that the country is ruled by one who cheated during the 2004 elections. Ninoy must be wondering — how come People Power was launched when Marcos tried to cheat Cory and yet is now discarded in the face of a similar rape of the democratic process?
It must be puzzling Ninoy no end that how come Filipinos who did not tolerate oppression and repression from Marcos — compared to the current, a far better ruler who had a vision for the country despite the failings of his dictatorship — is now able to stomach the present regime which hardly has any saving grace to speak of?
Brilliant as he was, Ninoy must be at a loss at how come the race that produced such lions of history as Lapu Lapu, Gregorio del Pilar, Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini and Andres Bonifacio is so devoid today of such patriotism and heroism in the face of crass corruption and the treasonous sellout of the national interest to foreign superpowers.
Ninoy must be crying over how the rest of the soldiers and officers of the military — save for the few who stood up to tyranny — can continue to defer to this present ruler as their Commander-in-Chief. They’re the constitutionally mandated protectors of the people and yet they’re unable to discern if Filipinos need protection and redemption from their present bad rulers.
Ninoy must be crying at the sight of his siblings — Paul, Tessie and Lupita — fawning on the woman who would be another Marcos if she could.