EDSA Feature cover

A Revolution for the People, by the People: 38 Years Since EDSA

Written by Marian Sophia Carreon • Board by Joseph Andrei Torres | 24 February 24

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the EDSA revolution where Filipinos stood against the Marcos dictatorship, breaking free from the authoritarian rule that haunted the country for two decades. From all walks of life, hundreds of thousands of people marched side by side as a stand of solidarity and a desire for a better country as their legacy to future generations. Making news headlines as “the revolution that surprised the world,” it is a testament to the strength of People Power achieved by collective action and bravery. 

The “Yellow Revolution” spanned three days beginning February 22, 1986 until February 25 where a series of demonstrations were sparked by the assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., the opposition leader against the Marcoses. Heeding the call of church leaders, the Philippines avoided a civil war of hatred that would have borne victims rather than winners and losers. Instead, they took their protests to the streets and chanted for the dictator’s downfall without resorting to gunpowder and violence.

As an incredible display of camaraderie and initiative, it earned its pages in the annals of Philippine history through peaceful protests. But delving further, we have regarded it from a distance like a legend, as if the Filipinos gained power overnight—enough to topple a dictator from the throne. We struggle in internalizing and recognizing the humanity behind its story, of how it took years before the cold realization hit, and how it took innocent lives and human rights stripped away for us to stand our ground.

Memorizing the people and events from the books, though never truly reflecting upon the blessings it gives us today, ultimately simplifies such a massive and meaningful movement into a coincidental victory too good to be true.

But it was. The cries for democracy, the calls to stop the oppression, and every footstep backward and forward served as the threads that united Filipinos back then, extending even until the present day. But such ties from past to present can be severed when the present fails to commemorate it through national holidays and acknowledgements. For the year 2024, the EDSA People Power Anniversary is no longer celebrated as a holiday according to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Proclamation No. 368 containing the list of this year’s holidays.

Compared to the past, only the EDSA Revolution was excluded, no longer being a special non-working holiday for the first time since then. The Malacañang Palace explains it was due to the fact that it falls on a Sunday. When asked by Inquirer Philippines as to why the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary—also on a Sunday—was added to the list, the Palace explained that it was because of a law mandating it. 

This subtle change and exclusion of historic milestones dilutes its relevance, failing to uphold one of the greatest lessons for the Philippines: “Never Again.” The EDSA revolution has set a precedent, a reminder to each and every Filipino that democracy is rightfully ours, and that no politician shall be above the law once again. 

Of course, with the return of the Marcoses into power, one might wonder whether the Filipinos are forgiving or forgetful. If we are forgiving, may we not lose sight of what we fought hard to keep and demand proper accountability. If we are forgetful, then we are bound to repeat our mistakes—the very fate that cost thousands of sacrifices before it ended. 

February 25 proves that when Filipinos come together, we are able to achieve great things. And now, in an age of historical revisionism and clouded democracy, you are a witness of history. Move forward with pride for the bravery of those that came before you, and with the vigilance to discern truth from lies.

May the Filipino people remember the truth and learn from the past, carrying the torch of knowledge and democracy to be passed upon future generations.

Never forget, never again.