EDSA, that long stretch of a highway from Pasay to Caloocan formerly known as Highway 54 has long been the bane of drivers. To drive through it is to contend with a maddening mix of buses, jeepneys, trucks of all shapes and sizes, a swarm of motorcycles whose riders think they are immortals, and the occasional fool of a pedestrian streaking across with reckless abandon.
There was a time, however, that EDSA was more than just a hellish highway you had to endure going to and from any point of Metropolitan Manila. There was a time when EDSA, an acronym for the name of a historian after whom the highway was named, Epifanio Delos Santos, lived up to its name.
For a few days in 1986, EDSA was the setting for one of those astonishing moments in history when human flesh and blood stood against helicopters, tanks and guns…and won. A moment that cracked the iron grip of a dictator and ended his rule. An epiphany of the saints if you will. A moment that well symbolized the Philippines, long deemed the Sick Man of Asia, full of hope and promise.
That moment has come and gone. We look back to that brief time of glory, of hope, and wonder where has it all gone? What have we made of it?
These days, there have been encouraging news reports of how the Philippines have begun to shrug the title of Sick Man of Asia. Econonomically, they say, the Philippines have outperformed its neighbors. Even China. Under any measure, that is an achievement and we Filipinos should celebrate it. But even to this bright spot in our history, there is still darkness around.
Think about it, the problems this country is facing now has always been the same problems it was coping with since the 70s, and some say even earlier when the Philippines was at its brightest as the Pearl of the Orient. Even now we face a communist insurgency, a Muslim separatist movement (albeit under different names now), poverty and corruption and all these have been around for the last 40 years. Even the economic gains this country has achieved is criticized for failing to be inclusive. Whatever development that has occurred has not trickled down to the masses. Worse, like Philippine politics itself, it is all anchored on personalities. In this case, the President. Unfortunately, his term ends in a year or so. What then?
The challenges facing the country has always been the same because we have never fixed the system that the Spanish and the American conquerors perpetuated long before we achieved what independence we were able to bargain for. In this context, the EDSA Revolution is just one among the many acts of bravery the Filipinos showed throughout its history but it has achieved little for the Filipinos themselves. The worst part is that we have no one to blame but our selves for no one has done more to perpetuate these challenges than we Filipinos. The worst part of it is that the people we ousted in EDSA are now back in power. How’s that for a slap on the face?
EDSA, the moment, came and went and now we only have the old decaying structure we have come to curse on a daily basis…