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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘People Power Day’ not a 2024 holiday

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“People Power Day serves as a reminder of the collective power of the people in shaping the nation’s destiny and upholding democratic principles”

I was researching about the preparations for the People Power Anniversary this year when I came across this terse sentence in a Wikipedia article on public holidays in the Philippines:

“Feb. 25 (2024): EDSA Revolution Anniversary: Dropped from the list through Proclamation 368, series of 2023, on October 11, 2023.”

This was accomplished via Proclamation 368, “Declaring the regular holidays and special (non-working) days for the year 2024.” Feb. 25 is no longer among them, although Aug. 21, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.’s death anniversary, still is.

This year, Feb. 25, the 38th EDSA Day, falls on a Sunday. According to a Feb. 6 post by ‘The Filipino Scribe’ on Facebook, this is the reason the holiday was scrapped this year. They quoted the Palace as having said so “in response to critics.”

But Sunday holidays have not deterred the government in times past from acknowledging them.

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If it had been ‘business as usual,’ this holiday, celebrated for decades, could have been followed by a non-working holiday declared on the Monday, for ‘holiday economics.’

If Feb. 9 this year — the day before the Lunar New Year and celebrated according to Chinese tradition – was quite suddenly declared a non-working holiday, then Feb. 25 could likewise have been retained as a holiday, so that at least folks who work on Sundays could have had the day off.

Ah, but history is written by the victors, as Churchill said.

However, celebrating the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution remains crucial, particularly in the context of a political landscape where a member of the Marcos family is in power.

The EDSA Revolution of 1986 was a pivotal moment in Philippine history, symbolizing the triumph of democracy over authoritarian rule. By commemorating this event, society reaffirms its commitment to the values of freedom, democracy, and social justice.

According to Dwight de Leon, writing for Rappler in a Feb. 13 article, the grandsons of “democracy icons” Ninoy and Cory Aquino had quite the reaction to President Marcos Jr.’s exclusion of EDSA Day from this year’s list of holidays.

“A fire was lit under us when the holiday was canceled, which was questionable because other holidays that fell on a weekend like the Chinese New Year were recognized as a holiday,” De Leon quoted Kiko Aquino Dee as saying.

“This year in particular, it is clear that there is an effort to set EDSA aside, and that’s something we stand against,” the latter added.

People Power Day serves as a reminder of the collective power of the people in shaping the nation’s destiny and upholding democratic principles.

Acknowledging and commemorating the significance of EDSA encourages a broader perspective on governance, fostering an environment where leaders are accountable and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizenry.

Memory plays a crucial role in instilling democratic values among younger generations.

Commemorating events like the EDSA Revolution serves as a living history lesson, offering a tangible connection to the struggles and sacrifices made for democracy.

By remembering the past, younger individuals gain insights into the fragility of democratic institutions and the importance of active civic engagement.

Understanding historical mistakes is essential for preventing their repetition.

The knowledge of past injustices, abuses of power, and the consequences of authoritarian rule empowers Filipinos, particularly the youth, to be vigilant against similar threats to democracy.

The EDSA Revolution, with its spirit of unity and people power, becomes a guiding beacon for the younger generation.

It encourages them to value democratic ideals, embrace diversity, and actively participate in shaping a just and equitable society.

By preserving and passing on this collective memory, we navigate the complexities of the present while avoiding the pitfalls of history.

In any case, there are many Filipinos now who will “never forget,” and commemorative events have been organized by several organizations, among them The Buhay ang EDSA campaign network.

Their activities include a National Day of Prayer and Action (Feb. 23 at the EDSA Shrine); Kapihan at Talakayan on the role of the Aug. 21 Movement during the People Power Revolution (Feb. 24); and a Freedom Ride parade along Ayala Avenue, a showing of the “The EDSA Story: A People’s Victory, A Nation’s Glory” at Club Filipino, and the #EDSAKahitSaan musical event at the People Power Monument (Feb. 25).

* * * FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO / Email: writerjennyo@gmail.com

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