What went wrong after People Power?

[* this post is by Ji-an Manalo (with some of my photos from CBT’s ‘People Power’).  It was taken from the Philippine history Facebook group I created earlier this week: CLICK HERE]

What went wrong after People Power?

“While the Philippine revolution deposed a powerful dictator, it left much of the old centralized power structure unchanged. The U.S. still retained major influence through military aid and bases. The Philippine military remained intact under Defense Minister Enrile, the same man who had gotten rich from political connections while serving as Defense Minister under Marcos. The new President, Cory Aquino, was from a wealthy family. The poor were still poor, and the rich were still in charge. Capitalism emerged stronger than ever.

What the story of the Philippine revolution demonstrates is the power people can have when they withdraw consent. The same dynamics apply, no matter what the issue. Had Filipinos decided to go on and struggle for a more equitable distribution of wealth, the abolition of the military, or a decentralized government that was more responsive to their needs, who knows what more amazing things they might have achieved” –1997, from http://www.fragmentsweb.org/TXT2/philiptx.html

My [Ji-an’s] personal views:

Perhaps we weren’t quite ready to take further steps back then, and I have such high respect for my seniors who did what they did in EDSA back when I was just 8 years old! The journey has not ended. As I observe the growing number of members of this Questions in Philippine History group, I get the feeling that there’s a big “wake-up call” happening now, in our generation. It seems that we have already begun experiencing the phases of decolonization and I believe we are headed towards a collective experience of phases 4 & 5, commitment and action. What would happen then can be very powerful, but it all depends on how we can understand our past , and integrate that with our imagination on what we can do now.

My question is: How do we define the evolution of People Power, a movement which could even have started from the Katipunan?

Resource on the term decolonization: http://www.opihi.com/sovereignty/colonization.htm (i was inspired to read
this article from a thread in facebook, which I can no longer find)

Further resources: Laenui worked closely with a Filipino native, Enriquez: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgilio_Enriquez

Interesting article on Enriquez’ work:

* * * * *

A youth named Donmar responded to this with:

In my opinion, we have People Power revolt in order to replace one group of elites with another group of elites… thats what basically happen… but then again people power is not about those politicians taking the credits and the limelight… people power is nothing without the people…

For me, we need the people and the military (not the right wing military adventurist) if we want to launch another successful one… without the people then its called a coup but then without the military its called a demonstration protest… so we need both…

But I believe we don’t need another people power regardless how people viewed the current president… whats the use of having a constitution if we keep breaking it..

* * * * *


Thank you for your response, Mr. Pineda. Very interesting indeed, but it does not really answer my question. It is clear that the People Power movement hasn’t been able to ameliorate the situation in the Philippines. However, IF the movement could evolve to effectively make things better for the people, what would that look like to you? How can we keep corruption from happening? I know that People Power has been used to oust corrupt presidents, but I’m wondering if we can use the strength of this movement to get things done correctly; If impeaching a president hasn’t been quite efficient, then what other peaceful strategies are possible?

But before we can offer those questions wise answers, I really do believe that we have to deeply understand the effects of colonization; and when we are ready to face these effects, we can start the process of decolonization, and thus from there, reconstruct a truly independent (healthy) country. To further explain, can we agree that the power of suggestion is a strong one? And if so, the colonizers’ refusal to believe that the natives were capable of ruling their own land without the “help” of colonizers, could have lasting effects on the generations to come… This quote is taken from the first Philippine Commission, a legislative body appointed by the U.S., headed by Dr. Schurman: “Nevertheless, they recognize the indubitable fact that the Filipinos cannot stand alone. Thus the welfare of the Filipinos coincides with the dictates of national honour in forbidding our abandonment of the archipelago.” I don’t know how you feel about him saying that the Filipinos cannot stand alone, but it’s something that I can’t take lightly. Statements like these had been strongly suggested to us Filipinos in the past and I don’t believe that we have completely liberated ourselves from its power. However, having a platform (such as this one) where we can discuss such things can help us explore possible solutions together…


* * * * *

What are your thoughts KPC peeps?

~ by alexfelipe on April 24, 2009.

4 Responses to “What went wrong after People Power?”

  1. Amazing post. great opinions.

  2. The question “what went wrong after People Power?” seems misleading in itself. Being a direct participant in the first EDSA “uprising,” I am quite skeptical about the make-up of that massive demonstration which eventually forced the hands of the United States in banishing the dictator Ferdinand Marcos to a safe haven in Hawaii.
    The people that gathered in EDSA during the time were a mixture of white collar employees of companies that supported the Roman Catholic Church, students from private schools or those run by the clergy, businessmen, professionals and the wealthy middle class that supported Cory Aquino and Cardinal Sin, workers from the more moderate labour unions, and some members of the radical anti-Marcos and anti-US imperialism movement who were swallowed by the moment. Of course, some disgruntled officers of the military were also there. But the radical element of the anti-Marcos and anti-US imperialism movement which was responsible in raising the political awareness of the Filipino people through persistent rallies, protests, marches and labour mass actions did not play a leading role in the EDSA uprising. Why? That is the real question. Not what went wrong after People Power?

    The term “People Power” is a misnomer, a catchpraise invented by the media to “romanticize” the event. Effective as it was, it caught fire and was adopted by the foreign news media. But it wasn’t really a “revolt of the masses” if you want to call it a genuine people-based show of power and unity against a repressive state or government.

    Why the radical core of the protest movement failed to seize that moment is something very interesting to explore. Shades of our historical past. Consider how the illustrados led by Emilio Aguinaldo took over the Philippine Revolution of 1896 from the proletarian leadership of Bonifacio and his men.

    All the so-called gains from the EDSA “uprisings” which had the trappings of “People Power” were destined to be short-lived because they all lacked a coherent ideological purpose. They were all designed to effect a regime change, without an overhauling of the system that is anti-democratic and anti-people in the first place.

    Look at who are still in the forefront of the protest movement against the repressive and corrupt system we have in the Philippines at present: the same radical core that was responsible for raising the social consciousness of the people but who continue to be in the fringes of political power, e.g., BAYAN, KMU. NULP, etc.

    We need to deconstruct our idea of decolonization, not just to perpetuate the notion that we are victims of colonization and miseducation, if we really want to understand what’s stopping the genuine Filipino people power from unleashing its strength in order to achieve a society that is more equitable and just.

    Joe Rivera

  3. Interesting, very interesting.

    De-colonization? How do you take the bagoong out of pinakbet once you’ve served it? Who is and isn’t a Filipino native anymore? And the ‘rich’ or ‘wealthy’ not capable of leading? Is that what we’re saying here?

    I’m familiar with the effects of colonization but I’m puzzled as to how ‘removing’ colonization is going to help things (that’s a question, by the way). I read the Burgess that still seems theoretical to me, ie – if this were a perfect world. It’s cool for self-image and how we see each other in our daily lives, but de-colonizing in the modern world as a national strategy for saving a country seems like a teleseyre plot to me.

    I’m a Filipino news reader and generally-concerned but dont-ask-me-to-picket global Filipino citizen, so don’t know the answer myself, but so far I haven’t heard any viable suggestions from any of the activist-supported parties yet that I think are really capable of solving the problem. Again, it all seems theoretical but will it really work and is it possible?

    If this wasn’t a hard one, I don’t think Alex would be asking for discussion here.

    Whoever has the answer to this one better do what they said at SOFU and go and run for President.

  4. More comments from the facebook group:

    May says:
    “Thanks for posting the above discussion of joe rivera. filipinos should be able to understand this, not just those who live outside the country but those who were here who witnessed the event via tv and radio and were never part of the build-up of the events. And also to those who were very young during that time.

    The truth really is the term people power is a misnomer if it pertains to the 1986 edsa pp.

    who would believe that marcos was overthrown when he was already dying? it was an opportunity for enrile and ramos to ride on the heightened mass actions, along with the middle class and the rich who made the rallies at the most a social gathering. it was perfect that they even ended up looking like heroes.”

    Victoria writes:
    “It is not out of the ordinary for the Filipinos, who on an average day seem detached from each other and could care less, to actually bond in a cohesive effort to fight back. Our problem is not before nor during the revolution. It is what happens after the revolution that we have a problem with. Rizal expressed his fear of Filipinos fighting for an inchoate revolution. Our plans end when the change begins.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: