2/25/2017
Ideals

It's the 25th of February again, which means, once again, we get reminded of all these stories from the first EDSA Revolution - the well-worn stories of its major personalities, as well as the side stories from the people on the periphery, on the fringes.

But this year's interesting. Rodrigo Duterte is, of course, president now, and his views on EDSA are considerably different, if we can even make sense of it. Formally he's all about moving on from the jubilation of 31 years ago, and learning from the lessons that have come after all that happened. It's a good point, really - we're all still stuck with the idea that 1986 was a shining moment for the country, forgetting that we never really followed through with it.

But then, there's the rhetoric - muddled rhetoric, from him and his supporters - that EDSA has made things worse for the country. Is it his supposed deference to Ferdinand Marcos, the reason why the dictator is now buried amongst heroes? That could explain why his most rabid of drones are leading the way in editing history, or at the very least pushing an alternative view into prominence: that Cory Aquino is corrupt, that she made things much worse for the country, and that putting her into power was a big mistake - a mistake that we're only getting around to fixing now, with, well, the election of Duterte as president.

So, now, yes, it's interesting. What used to be a celebration of the personalities that made it all possible is now a celebration of the ideals that made it all, to quote Ninoy Aquino, worth fighting for. This, from all sides. The much-vilified "yellows", in the defensive after Noynoy Aquino breathlessly politicized all the goodwill of his parents' struggle, are now reduced to being passive aggressive as the president of the country tip-toes towards a more authoritarian ideal. The administration is also being implicit, paying lip service to those ideals which continuing to push the narrative that the best way, the only way, you can prove your love of country is to support, perhaps blindly, everything a supposedly well-meaning leader is doing.

We should have been talking about ideals for the past 31 years. Were the concepts of freedom and democracy too vague for the common Filipino to grasp? One could argue that, yes, it is too vague, considering how some are now all, "what's freedom of speech if there's no freedom from poverty?" and suggesting that killing drug users without due process is not a problem, but in fact is a welcome development. But it's also in how some of those resisting the Philippines made in Duterte's image is yearning, clearly, for the days when, say, Noynoy Aquino was in power, because suddenly all that was good, and nothing but.

We should have been talking about ideals. We should be talking about ideals. But even today, at this quiet turning point in our country's relationship with our history, we're talking about the personalities. On one hand, Marcos is the anathema to freedom, and Duterte is another. On the other hand, Duterte loves this country so much more than you ever will, and so today should not be about that then-shining, now-tarnished moment in the past, but about the future. "A fight against corruption, crime and drugs!" as some rallies today will be all about - because that's an easier way to define things.

We clearly are not capable to talk about ideals. Perhaps we were not capable of learning the lessons of EDSA. But that would mean assessing ourselves deeply, and that's inconvenient, so, instead, bring on the megaphones - and listen to the one that conforms to what you always believed.

And your responses...

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