Going Beyond EDSA People Power Revolution: Duterte’s Supporters at Luneta
Year 1986 marked the era where peace and democracy reigned supreme over the mounting pressures brought by corruption, constricted freedom of expression, and abuse of power. Throngs of people poured out on the streets; without fear in their minds and a heart that is filled with hope. Change was inevitable, and in this case, the end to a dictatorship that has once upon a time brought the country’s economy to new heights.
So overwhelming was the spirit of the EDSA People Power Revolution that the whole world took notice. A bloodless uprising that held steadfast through the strength of faith, hope, and vision of having a better future. Members of the clergy kneeling on the ground with heads bowed in prayer armed with a rosary and bible; men, women and children offering flowers, food and water to heavily armed soldiers on tanks and armoured vehicles; people from all walks of life, regardless of regional ethnicity, orientation or belief, braved the streets united with a single goal to instigate the needed change.
But does the spirit of the famed EDSA People Power Revolution remain in the hearts and mind of the Filipino? Or did it dwindle down to just a monument in EDSA as a reminder of what once was?
February 25, 1986 is the day that made the Filipino community beam with pride as it won a bloodless revolution; in the spirit of unity and a dream worth fighting for. 31 years after of the same day in the current year of 2017, that unifying spirit seemed just a faint memory drifting in the clouds. Why? Two separate groups held simultaneous gatherings championing their different beliefs. One group trooped to the famed EDSA People Power Monument Shrine in Ortigas, while the other amassed at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Park, Manila. It is a day that’s supposedly reserved in honour of the historic event that once made the country proud.
The rally at the People Power Monument in EDSA should have been a vigil of prayer and thanksgiving. More than a thousand marched their way to the Shrine, but alas, it turned out to be a defiant protest against what they perceived as the failures of the current Duterte administration. Although many personalities joined the fray to show their support in opposition of misguided governance, the drive lost steam, and eventually their numbers dwindled as the night progressed.
It is the other way around at the Luneta Park in Manila. Hundreds of thousands of Duterte supporters trooped to the Quirino Grandstand to show their support and respect to their elected leader. The air buzzed with fervour, as prayers and thanksgiving in the form of speeches and music sparked the gathering. The crowd doubled in numbers even as the event went deeper into the night. Such unifying spirit of support for President Duterte spilled over to the next day (a Sunday) where more people joined in. But did you know that although the major rally of thousands at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila was not the only Pro-Duterte gathering that happened on February 25, 2017? The organizers known as United DDS (United Democracy and Duterte Supporters) held simultaneous gatherings not only in Manila but also in the Visayas and Mindanao, and in several countries across the globe. To give you an idea how massive the support generated, here are the places where the vigil, prayers and concert were held:
- In the Visayas: Plaza Independencia, Cebu City; New Government Center (NGC), Bacolod City; City Stage Ormoc City Plaza, Ormoc City.
- In Mindanao: Rizal Park, Davao City; Guingona Park, Butuan City; Freedom Park, Zamboanga City.
- In parts of the world: Japan (Tokyo), China (Hongkong and Macau), United Kingdom (Hyde Park, London), Spain (Madrid), Canada (Calgary, Edmonton Alberta, Toronto, Vancouver), United States (Los Angeles, Honolulu, Heyward-CA, New York), France (Paris), Netherlands (The Hague), Kuwait, UAE (Abu Dhabi), Ireland (Dublin), Australia (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney), and Switzerland (Geneva).
It is really quite sad that the spirit of freedom and democracy that enthralled the world in the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 has been divided due to political differences and belief. Hopefully, things will change for the better in the near future; and may the true spirit of unity be rekindled once more in the hearts and minds of the people.