Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Politics of Owning and Remembering EDSA

A monopoly on history is a monopoly of power. A monopoly of telling the narrative can only match the writer's ideological standpoint. What really happened in EDSA? Who were the protagonists? The bad guys? Those who chose to sit on the sidelines? What was the context in which the event happened? Was it planned or spontaneous? What were the events that led to it?

If remembering is a way to reconstruct events in history, then different sections of society will see the past through multiple views. The view from the left is not the same from the right. The view from the top cannot be the same as that from the bottom. What is not contested is that the People Power revolution was good. This is probably why so many camps seek to co-opt EDSA to suit their own purposes today. Co-opting EDSA endows one with magic/legitimising properties. Co-opting EDSA allows one to be morally right. And so it seems, rarely do we 'remember' in an entirely objective manner. On such a momentous event as the People Power revolution, the politics of remembering is rife.

Perhaps the tendency to multiple views on EDSA 1986 is a measure of how fractured and segmented we remain. In a sense, what was true twenty-four years ago remains true today. Those who would insist that no such fractures exist are ideologically blind if not idiots.

And then there are those who do not choose to remember at all. The concreteness of the past today dissolves in the immediate. Is it in our nation's unarticulated philosophy not to dwell and cling to that which has transpired before? Is it not in our psyche to unearth as would archeologists, social artifacts? As a snake sheds its skin, so we seem to shed the past as if useless. But then, forgetting is a also an act of political expediency. For those who choose to forget and those who encourage the forgetting, EDSA is at best a failure to revolution and at worst a recessive gene that might choose to self-manifest in a new generation.

What is EDSA People Power for you? An ephemeral, collective suspension of sanity? A flash mob-like psychic shield against tyranny? An extraordinary one-time big-time exercise of citizenship after almost two decades of slumber?

I choose to remember EDSA as a promise we have failed to keep. The glimpse of heaven all too brief before reality landed us back on the ground. It was not so much an event as it was a condition with the magic mix of elements to fix a deeply corrupted nation - love and respect for country and others as one loves and respects oneself. At the core, is this not what democracy is about?