My 1980’s memories

by: Isa

It frequently dawns on me how unique my childhood is and how differently I remember the ’80’s from how my friends remember it.

A few months ago, we were tossing around the idea of throwing an ’80’s party and as everyone contributed their stories of atari, street fighter, walkmans, black Michael Jackson, etc, I half-jokingly said “people power.” I didn’t get blank stares from people because I was among friends who remembered hearing about events in the Philippines that led to great historical change. I don’t remember just hearing about it though. I was 3 years old, living in Manila, in San Juan, 20 minutes away from EDSA and Ortigas. I remember my parents coming home with indelible ink on their thumbs after voting. I remember sticking Cory and Doy stickers on our beige Tamaraw. I remember confusing the words-soldier and shoulder, because there were always “soldiers/shoulders around” and my Papa always said “pull back your shoulders/soldiers, stand up straight.”

This month, People Power comes to life for an audience that may remember it distantly, to an audience that heard about it, and to an audience that may have never heard about it until now. Carlos Bulosan Theatre, one of Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture’s community partners, will be mounting People Power at Theatre Passe Muraille ( It’s a revolution in poetry, movement and music. Previews begin on Friday the 11th of April and opens April 16th. Tuesday-Saturday performances are always at 8 pm. Sunday performances are on at 2:30 pm. Tickets are available through the Passe Muraille box office.

I hope you’ll come out to support the brilliant collective of playwrights and performers. I also hope you’ll enrich what you know about the ’80’s and remember that for some of us, it wasn’t just about the games we played or the music we listened to but also about witnessing change and revolution.


~ by isapalanca on April 10, 2008.

6 Responses to “My 1980’s memories”

  1. Nice one Isa. I remember PPower too. I was eleven at the time and already in Canada. I remember my parents making a pretty big deal out of it.

    Being eldest, and the only one home who could operate the betamax (really, we had a betamax) my Dad got me to tape the news for him to watch when he got home. They played the clip of the Aquino shooting over and over and I can picture it still.

    It was such a hopeful time. Even at that young age I could feel the aura of a better future for the homeland I could not remember.
    And then there came Aquino, she seemed so nice.

    Twenty-two years later, here we are. The sit’n in the homeland is worse than ever, the woman in charge worse than any before (including Marcos), it’s pretty depressing–but those ol’ days of hope back in the day still mean something.

    The promise of those days aren’t dead, at least that’s what I choose to believe…

  2. great post isa! congrats on your first contribution! i expect to hear more from you! it’s really wonderful to use the people power revolution as a touchstone for so many of us.

    i remember that it was the first time that i ever saw faces like mine on the television, and the sea of yellow marching together. a very vivid memory for me even at such a young age.

  3. I still remember People Power also.

    In 1986, I was 11 years old and I vividly remember heated arguments in the kitchen during family parties — it was my Dad and my uncles shouting, shaking their heads, getting red and sweaty and then laughing it off and drinking more beer.

    Now that I recall, that was probably what all the arguments (they called them ‘debates’) were about — soon after that, the ‘Bayan Ko’ coffee table book popped up and it was quite a picture book for a kid like me, and the Time Magazine cover where Cory was ‘Woman of the Year’.

    The next year, my Lolo was on his deathbed and we all went back to the Philippines to say goodbye… and us kids weren’t allowed outside of the house because things were still a bit delicate in the homeland.

    During that trip, we watched a lot of TV and aside from Menudo shows and Eat Bulaga, they were always playing ‘Bayan Ko’ on TV and also Freddie Aguilar was always on too.

    At the time, it meant nothing to me… but now that I look back, we were all affected somehow, even if it was in a small way.

    People Power was a part of all of our lives, somehow.

  4. Thanks guys! I hope to be able to post more! It’s weird remembering snippets of the situation. I also actually remember watching as much of the news as I did the cartoons. One of my dad’s friends actually has a story of how I was watching TV at their house and as she flipped through the channels landed on something with Honasan on it, and I apparently said that it was okay to leave it on that instead of looking for another show.

    EDSA was part of my daily drive to school too. Everyday as I was stuck in traffic between the POEA office and the EDSA shrine I would remember that not too long ago that strip had been impassable as well–to tanks and soldiers.

  5. I should also add that my story wasn’t in the Philippines, nor even Canada — it was in New York! So that’s even a Filipino American experience too — Imagine the added implication if you are a kid growing up in the place where Reagan is the president. It’s a whole other can of worms for the Titos to argue about.

    Plus, I know that one of my Titos was a proud Ilocano — just like Marcos — I’m sure that made for some big arguments.

  6. Excellent write-up. This event hits close to home for me since I was still in the Philippines at the time; at the impressionable adolescent age of 14 yrs & 11 months old. I was in the midst of finding my identity and purpose in life. Doing so during the Marcos regime naturally fired up the patriot in me (just as it did most of the youth then). It may have been the defection of Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile (no relation to me, but everyone sure thought so at the time) that triggered the revolution, but I still remember how Ninoy’s assassination 3 yrs earlier in ‘83 combined with the fraudulent election in ’85 (in which Marcos allegedly beat Cory Aquino) just basically angered a lot of people.

    I was in school in Cebu when EDSA started but my school along with other schools joined rallies in the city during those 2-3 days in support of the revolution. We didn’t get the level of military presence similar to EDSA, but it still was nerve-wracking. I vividly remember all of us singing “Bayan Ko” and yelling “laban, laban” while flashing the “L” symbol (with our fingers).

    My parents naturally were concerned with my idealism (oh wait, they called it activism) that they moved the whole family here to Toronto in ’87. The rest is history.

    It’s sad that political families/clans are so embedded in the political environment that it’s difficult for real proper healing reform to occur.

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