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February 27, 2009

“PEOPLE POWER” FAIRY TALE by Herman Tiu Laurel

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys. Painted wings and giant’s rings make way for other toys. One gray night it happened, Jackie Piper came no more. And Puff the mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar. – (Puff the Magic Dragon -Gregory Isaacs)

The Edsa I “people power” fairy tale was once a mighty dragon that mesmerized the world, supposedly vanquishing a dictatorship. Its wake followed democracy and “empowerment”, as Ceres Doyo of the Inquirer describes its supposed boon to the Filipino people. The same newspaper had the young reporter Volt Contreras dramatize the fall of Marcos and hail the power of Cory Aquino, that in 15 hours the regime of 20 years fell. For about a decade this fairy tale held the Filipino people’s imagination captive, but then life continued to get harder and harder, impoverishment grew, and little Juan Pepito (the Filipino Jackie Piper) didn’t come to the Edsa I celebrations anymore.

Three creatures came to the Edsa I celebration this year. A tobacco chomping leprechaun, his trusted gargoyle, and a pot bellied troll. They jumped up and down to rejoice. No one else jumped in joy. Even the little Imp didn’t come to the party. The golden bacchanalian statue at the corner of Edsa and Ortigas stood forlorn, dourly looking down on the crossroads that saw better times of cheering throngs. Now only cursing motorists jammed Edsa which was closed off to make way for the celebration.

What is not fairy tale is that Pulse Asia will announce soon results of a “best president” survey, that on a scale of zero, the worse, to 10 the best President of the Philippines, Marcos got seven, President Estrada (victims of the Edsa I replay, Edsa II) rated six besting Cory and Ramos, and Gloria got the worst at 3.4. History has judged that Marcos and Erap were better for the nation than the Philippine mainstream media are willing to admit. I am not surprised by the Inquirer’s continued glorification of the two “people power” coups d’ etat despite this, its owners are among those who benefited by the/from the two fairy tales. Of course the mainstream TV is the same, breathtaking billions in the past 21 years. People who have no vested interest in keeping the fairy tale alive can see clearly those still dancing to the “Magkaisa” tune have no clothes.

I take issue with Ceres Doyo’s claim of  “empowerment” of the people by Edsa I. Pray, show me where that empowerment can be seen? In the right of suffrage of the people? Historical and Comelec facts established by the extensive research of former UP professor and Comelec Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco lay out all the statistics on how the Edsa I Comelec chairmen started the padding of the voter’s list which to this day has not been cleaned up. What about economic empowerment? Can that be found in the growing hunger ratings that afflict over 50 percent of the population now? As for Volt Contreras’ report, he should read more widely and dig into the real stories behind Edsa I, such as this quote from Foreign Policy magazine:  “In his Heritage speech Wolfowitz (former US Secretary of State) also took credit for the downfall of Marcos. The “private and public pressure on Marcos to reform,”‘ he asserted, “contributed in no small measure to emboldening the Philippine people to take their fate in their own hands and to produce what eventually became the first great democratic transformation in Asia in the 1980s.” ”

More historical truths now revealed how the now bankrupt AIG’s boss Maurice ‘Hank’ Greenberg and Bechtel’s George Schultz, secretary of state at that time destabilized the Philippine Republic. I also have the confession from one ATOM member, Butz Aquino’s group, who attests that the Ayalas opened up Shell’s spigot for all their vehicles to do their nationwide motorcades and protests.

Marcos laid out a national economic development-industrialization program which Cory replaced with a trade liberalization and de-industrialization campaign. Estrada had the heart for the masses and reversed FVR’s liberal issuances of sovereign guarantees and big business bias. The foreign and Philippine oligarchy-controlled media with corrupt military and police generals by Gloria Arroyo deposed Estrada who was an obstacle to their plot to plunder through public utility privatization, price-gouging, outright looting of the National Treasury, and eventually the separation of the richest parts of Mindanao for US oil companies.

Residual Edsa fairy tales continue to obfuscate the Filipino nation’s view and delay their self-realization, emancipation and revolution. Some naive Filipinos still cling to those myths out of a sense of lack for something good to say about their beloved Philippines; but there has never been a dearth of Filipino assets: The first Asian anti-colonial revolution, the richest lands and seas in the region, a resourceful and creative people, and nation-buildings leaders such as Marcos, Estrada, Gen. Danilo Lim, Senator Trillanes and a host of other outstanding Filipino leaders.

Learning the hard lessons from their hard life, the hardy Filipino masa and middle class (also hardened after the pre-need corporate swindles and spectacles of Arroyo corruption) the Filipino is older and wiser. Although there is concern that the impressionable youth, targeted by “civil society’s” “I am Ninoy” ads, may still fall for the fairy tales. To ensure that they are not fooled like the generation before them, we must go to them in the schools and concerts, to speak and sing the historical truth. Fairy tales must be replaced with historical insight and empirical reflection with the question: “Is life better today after the Edsa I and II events? If worse (as it undoubtedly is): Why?”

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