Acosta: My Edsa story
By Mabel Sunga Acosta
1st Congressional District, Davao City
I WAS born and raised in Davao City, the only daughter in a brood of six. When I passed the Upcat after high school, I eagerly looked forward to UP life. And now, looking back, I know that I got more than just an interesting university life -- I became a part of world history in that uniquely Pinoy phenomenon that is "Edsa."
The "in" thing at that time was denim and "yellow" accessories. Yellow shirts with Ninoy Aquino's face, or slogans "Di ka Nag-iisa" or "Laban" signs in yellow caps, headbands, wristbands, yellow confetti in rallies, etc., all in defiance of an oppressive Marcos rule.
I remember that so many students and teachers in the Diliman campus attended rallies in and out of the university, there was only a handful seen inside the classrooms. Such that there was a memo issued advising students to indicate their preference in the grading system between the usual numerical system or just a PASS or FAIL mark. Students running for honors chose the standard numerical grading, but most of us opted for the latter. At that time, history was unfolding and was a poor second to mere academic discussion.
After a rally inside campus, we would ride a bus that would drop us at Edsa-Kamuning. Then we would walk the far stretch of the highway all the way to Ortigas, marching, singing, looking, and finally getting lost in the crowd.
There were speakers with bullhorns, sound system playing "Bayan Ko" and other rally standards, Edru Abraham and his theater group doing a street play, a businessman giving away loads of free sandwiches from inside his car ("hay naku, mabuti na lang, salamat po!" we, hungry students would mutter), street hawkers selling bottled water and junk food, vehicles honking their horns.
There were different groups of people all doing their thing -- singing, chanting slogans, praying the rosary, gawking at celebrities, holding instant reunions with friends. There was not much pagers and cellphones then, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that friends and acquaintances were also there at Edsa sea of people from different walks of life. I even saw some high school friends like Matthew Santamaria and others, despite the crowd.
People would point out to Kuh Ledesma and the Apo Hiking Society, Teddy Boy Locsin, Mayor Binay, and other politicians and celebrities, even sexy stars that I do not recognize. Truth to tell, it was more like a day street party. Despite the presence of tanks and soldiers with loaded guns at the other end of the highway and the political crisis, there was also a mardi gras-like atmosphere in the mad adrenaline rush that followed mixed emotions of defiance, fear, awe, anxiety, patriotism, recklessness, etc.
The sea of people would sometimes overflow and sometimes thin out at different times of the day, depending on rumors of violent dispersal, Marcos leaving the country, or calls for more warm bodies to come and pray as if to exorcise coming troops, etc. Despite the uncertainty of the situation and increasing tension, the indomitable Filipino spirit ignores the danger and simply breaks free, manifesting in different forms-through songs, chants, prayers, free speech, performing arts. Or just simply walks the stretch of highway, as a curious onlooker, or as defiant citizen.
I wish I had my photo taken at Edsa. But I was just a poor "probinsyana" with a meager allowance from my Kuya Danny who was starting out as a cadet engineer in Laguna. Cameras and camera phones were not in vogue among students then. Even if they were, I could not afford them on a student's allowance. Friends from the Journ Club were luckier. Snapshots of Ed Lingao in classic dark shades, together with some nuns who were praying in front of military tanks, for instance, were immortalized in newspapers and documentaries.
The people and events that unfolded reminded me of tapestry much like the Bagobo native cloth, which is created through a painstaking and backbreaking process, and requires meditation and inspiration from the gods. But the end results of which give satisfaction not only to the body but also to the soul. While there was action in Edsa, all over the country, the Filipino people including my fellow Davaoenos, also manifested their desire for freedom and peaceful change through prayer rallies, binding the nation as one. Despite the dire situation, the deeply spiritual side of us always prevails. And that's what makes the tapestry all the more unique, significant, and complete.
I am forty years old now, and an elected city councilor in the City of Davao, married to Rey, an ex-Air Force pilot who also saw action as a government troop in the several coup attempts in the succeeding Cory Administration, a far cry from the college student that I was way back when. But the fire and fervor of hope for this nation, and faith in its people remains in me. I would tell and re-tell our four children my Edsa story, hoping that history would not be forgotten but lodge in the hearts and minds of generations of Filipinos to come.
We are a talented but confused race, some say. Perhaps, the reason why the dilemma of graft and corruption, injustice, poverty, etc. still hound us. We learn the lessons of history the hard way. Nevertheless, I am glad our soul has a steadfast homing device and always finds its way back to God in any adversity. That is why Edsa happened as it did.
When I remember Edsa, I am reminded of the many reasons why I am proud to be Pinoy. As we grow as a people, I know that we shall eventually overcome all the trials and crises before us. Nobody can bind the spirit of the Filipino.
Published at Sunstar Davao (February 24, 2006 issue)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Acosta: My Edsa story