EDSA celebration in SF Bay Area warns against historical revisionism
DALY CITY, California — Activists and opponents of the late President Ferdinand Marcos marked the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolution that peacefully ousted the dictator by warning against “historical revisionism” and what they see as current tendencies toward authoritarian rule.
Huddled inside the United Methodist Church in Daly City, the participants listened to a talk by Susan Quimpo, co-author of Subversive Lives, the Quimpo family memoir of the Marcos years, which was written to let the youth of today know of the abuses under Marcos rule, and that there was a revolution not by a few, but by millions of Filipinos. Her talk was hosted by the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance.
“We celebrate People Power where we say no one died, that it was bloodless, that it was beautiful because people were giving flowers. But the truth is, there were a lot of people who died in the years before EDSA, many of them young people, making EDSA not really bloodless. And so when some people say that EDSA was nothing and that it was a failure, it really hurts because we remember all those who died during Martial Law, who all contributed their lives,” Quimpo said.
Among those who died were two of her brothers, Ronald Jan, who was tortured but disappeared after his release and was never seen again and Ishmael Quimpo, Jr. who went underground and joined the New People’s Army in Bicol and Nueva Ecija where his body was found in 1981.
Police and the military regarded the Quimpo family, with ten siblings that included Susan, as a “factory for activists.”
Subversive Lives, which took 23 years to write and was published in 2012, also sought to serve as a journal of what really transpired in the Philippines during the Marcos years and as a tool against “historical revisionism,” or the concerted attempts by the Marcos family and its supporters to glorify the Marcos years.
“It is not the millennials fault that they do not know. It is the fault of the generations before them for not ensuring that history is taught in school. It is the fault of the government that the teaching of Martial Law history is not mandated,” Quimpo declared.
“How can we move on when the Marcoses have not even acknowledged the crimes of Martial Law – the $10 billion stolen from the people, the 75,730 human rights violations, of rape, murder, torture, force disappearances, fake news of the 33 medals? They have never been addressed and truthfully acknowledged by the Marcoses. How can you tell the people to move on if not even an acknowledgement much less an apology has come from the Marcoses?” Quimpo added.
Meanwhile, Rodel Rodis, a longtime critic of the Marcoses, accused the Duterte administration of “promoting historical amnesia under the guise of moving forward because they want us to forget the past so that when it happens again, we will not be opposed to it.”
“They are actually moving us back to the past to a repeat of what we experienced in 1972. Far from moving beyond it, we are actually moving towards it. So we have to break through this amnesia and remember so that it will not happen again,” Rodis argued.
“When EDSA 1986 happened, Filipinos had every right to be very proud of themselves as they were admired by the whole world. Now President Duterte, who is an admirer of the late dictator Marcos, would like the world to forget about that event because he worships Marcos,” said another critic, Ted Laguatan, echoing Rodis.
“That is the reason why Duterte wanted to downplay this EDSA celebration,” maintained Laguatan.
Meanwhile, Cristina Osmeña, daughter of former Senator Sergio Osmeña III, who together with ABS-CBN mogul Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr., shared her memories of EDSA.
Her father and Lopez were accused of trying to assassinate Marcos, imprisoned and eventually escaped from Fort Bonifacio in 1977. They went into exile in the United States with their families during the dictatorship.
“I have poignant and substantial memories,” Cristina Osmeña said. “My family was not in the Philippines. We were in exile, watching with bated breath every single moment as the Marcos dictatorship unraveled. So it was an amazing childhood memory. I was 17 when Cory Aquino overthrew the dictator.”
She said further, “Frankly, I think it was one of the most incredible things to happen to the Philippines. We were glued to the television and to the news. And I remember the phone ringing incessantly all night. Nobody answered and when finally someone was wakened up to answer the phone, it was Geny Lopez on the other line saying, ‘Wake up Marcos has been ousted. Really those were incredible memories.”
Osmeña, who spoke to INQUIRER.net at the Republican Party Organizing Convention in Sacramento, believes that the significance of the historical event will never be forgotten.
“We have absolutely progressed 31 years later. I went back to the Philippines afterwards and the change that I’ve seen over the last 31 years is amazing and it is truly a free country now. The people are much more empowered. I think there is a lot to be proud of from the moment the Filipinos turned against Marcos and threw him out to the country it has become today,” she said.