Friday, February 25, 2011

“Say you want a revolution, well, you know ...”

The Manila Bulletin headline of Aquino's assassination on August 21, 1983

Twenty-five years ago today, “Sal” helped overthrow a government.

I told my youngest nephew about how she did this, and he just figured I was messing with him. But it really is true, although she is rather modest about it, and won't talk about it much.

By 1972, the Philippines was ruled under martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos. As time went on, his regime was the catalyst for organized corruption, and even assassination of his rivals. By 1986, the nation was on the brink of civil war. Then the Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, called for a peaceful protest against the regime.

Our Lady of EDSA, built in 1989 to commemorate the 1986 Revolution.

First, he contacted two orders of cloistered nuns, directed them to pray continuously before the Blessed Sacrament, until he told them otherwise. Then he got on Radio Veritas, and called upon his countrymen to take to the streets, to meet the soldiers guarding Malacañang (the presidential palace), and plead with them to lay down their arms. The tanks rolling down Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) were stopped in their tracks by devout Catholics on their knees, praying the rosary and singing hymns. Sal was among those who went to the soldiers' encampment with armloads of pastries and other homemade baked goods, to win their hearts through their stomachs.

The rest, as they say, is history.

It became known as the “People Power Revolution” or the “EDSA Revolution” (for the avenue where events culminated, and where they did again for another overthrow in 2001). In the more than seven years I have known her, she has not repeated such anarchic tendencies.

Not yet anyway.

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