Joemar Yubokmee

Some 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and over 3,200 people were killed in the dark years of martial law, but it only took one peaceful revolution to topple over 20 years of Marcos' dictatorship.

Cartoon by Maurice Gimena

The EDSA Revolution of 1986 was a momentous four-day display of solidarity among Filipinos, where millions flocked to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Metro Manila and cities all over the country. It was a monumental event that brought back democracy as Filipinos stood up against a regime, bearing rosaries and flowers against the firearms and battle tanks that the Marcos loyalist soldiers wielded.

The revolution was a gift and inspiration to the world. Filipinos proved that change could happen without spilling blood. It proved that the will of the people will always reign supreme over dictators, that justice prevails and retribution comes no matter how much propaganda, censorship, and oppression a dictator imposes against their sovereign.

Yet not even four decades after the EDSA Revolution, we are on the cusp of dictatorship and an authoritarian regime with yet another
Marcos scion occupying the presidency. The aspirations of EDSA may have fallen short, but not because a democracy with the people at the helm is inherently doomed to fail but because the promise of EDSA was never completely fulfilled. EDSA was supposed to quash oligarchy and overthrow an almost autocratic government, but it failed to do so because, as the Marcoses and their cronies were exiled, the positions that they left were simply replaced by another set of oligarchs and political dynasties.

EDSA was hijacked by the narrow elite who stood to gain and take over the business ventures vacated by Marcos cronies and political dynasties who laid low during the Marcos regime and resurfaced to start their own reign, but we too are at fault. We failed to sustain the people's power and fell back to being complicit with those in power. This complicity empowered the ruling class to continue the culture of oppression and corruption that greatly undermined democracy.

Today, many might think that as we welcome the 37th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, we mourn the ghost of EDSA, but this is not the case because even if the promise of EDSA was short-lived, its spirit is still alive and kicking to be reignited.

As long as our democracy is under siege, Filipinos continue to be exploited and oppressed, and our individual freedoms and rights are undermined, then the spirit of EDSA lives on.  EDSA challenges us to yet again gather in solidarity as one Filipino and one country, steadfast and unrelenting in our goal to free ourselves from the tight rule of an oppressor and focused on our vision of a truly democratic Philippines.