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Philippines' 1st People Power Revolution: No Guns, No Deaths, No Violence

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The Philippines has been governed by so many Presidents these past decades. One of the most well-known of them being the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, commonly known as Ferdinand Marcos was the 10th president of the Philippines. Born on September 11, 1917 in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. He attained an education in the University of the Philippines taking the course of law. With years passing by, he was elected to the Philippines House of Representatives in 1949. He moved up to the Senate in 1959 and became the Senate president from 1963 to 1965. After failing to win his party’s presidential nomination he broke ties with the Liberal Party and ran as the candidate of the Nationalists Party. Finally becoming the President of the Philippines on December 30, 1965. Which to this very day, is still widely discussed amongst the Filipino folk for how he had led the Philippines government and country to.

Many people have varying opinions on the reign of President Ferdinand Marcos. Some say it was the glory days of the Philippines and if his reign had continued we would’ve been recognized as one of the top countries now. On the other hand, it was also said that he had abused his power to its extent. His time was known as either one of two things, the time the Philippines was at its greatest, or the time the Filipinos were silenced. Many History teachers love discussing the topic of his reign because of how much discussion arises, as during that time, he had actually been forced to step down from his position after 20 (going to 21) years of being President. He was reelected in 1969 and it was marked by increasing the violence and civil conflict leftist rebels. On September 21, 1972 after a series of bombings in Manila, he had declared what we all know as Martial Law. Before the declaration of Martial Law, a week before, a number of people had received information that Marcos made a plan to take over the government completely and gain all the power. Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr., exposed on September 13, 1972 during a privilege speech “Oplan Sagittarius.” The Senator proclaimed that he had received a confidential plan offered by Marcos himself to place Metro Manila and outlying areas under the control of the Philippines Constabulary as prelude to Martial Law. Using a series of bombings in Metro Manila, including the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, to justify his takeover. Marcos himself passed a law Proclamation 1081 in September 1972, that officially placed the Philippines under Martial Law, extending his term. 

During Martial Law, the streets were deemed to be clean, curfew hours were highly enforced, and fear was inflicted on the general public. During his time, the Philippines also became exporters rather than importers. We imported various crops to other countries, increasing our economy. The Philippines also availed nuclear power plants that were to be used, but have now been left behind as traces of what President Marcos had planned. The Philippine peso was also almost equivalent to the American dollar because of how well the economy and country was doing. You could say, economy and country wise, Marcos made a huge impact. Sadly, even great things have their bad sides. Not all Filipinos agreed with these terms. Some felt that it was tightening their grasp on freedom especially after 300 years of colonization under the Spaniards the country had endured. Many opposed that the President were to gain full control over everything, on that note, politicians who gravely disagreed were jailed. One of those who opposed the matter was Benigno Aquino Jr. who was jailed for eight years. Not only did politicians oppose, but also some religious groups and Church leaders. On August 21st, 1983, Ninoy Aquino or better known as Benigno S. Aquino was assassinated at what is now known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport in his memory. This led to an uprising because it was speculated or used as a reason that Ferdinand Marcos himself was the cause of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination. In reality, he had nothing at all to do with it. Despite that, this uprising sparked something within the nation. A rather unusual one, with no guns, no deaths, and no violence involved. This was marked and known in history as the 1st People Power Revolution. It occurred on February 22-25 1986 and was led by various religious groups and people one of them being Jaime Cardinal Sin who actually opened the school gym. Approximately 2 million people joined and they marched along Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA), this marked a new era of democracy and freedom for Filipinos. With this event, Ferdinand Marcos stepped down from his position as President after 20 years of being in position.

Since then, the Filipinos have celebrated every February 25th the 1st People Power Revolution. Now what has happened since then? Well, after the impeachment, Ferdinand Marcos flew to a different country until the matter died down. He died on September 28, 1989 in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S. This doesn’t end here. Now that you’ve been given enough knowledge about this, what can you say about Ferdinand Marcos’ term? This is still very much debatable amongst common folk. The way law and order were enforced upon common folk were like 2 sides of the same coin. In a country, law and order is a must, and in Ferdinand Marcos’ term that was alright, the people weren’t discriminated upon and weren’t shed from their rights. However, those that may oppose may have encountered circumstances where law and order weren’t present such as matters in court or justice was needed. According to some folks, the streets were clean, curfew was implemented, and basic laws were followed, rarely being broken. This may lead to some speculations, was it because of the influence of higher ups that caused the said uprising? Or was there a certain event or detail that occured that history books would not like us to know about for our own sake? Was it just because the people did not have their needs met with this style of governing? It’s all truly odd. On this topic, besides Martial Law, the death penalty was also put into motion. Any grave offenders were put to death. This, at least in my own opinion, could’ve been the main reason as to why the people didn’t want Marcos to be President anymore. The possibility of the evidence presented being faked, the witnesses saying lies, the high chance of an injustice occurring leading to someone’s death in return was too much. It was as if for the sake of inflicting law and order, a life had to be paid to instill fear in the hearts of many. Within those hearts, are the hearts of those who knew the injustice their loved ones suffered. This brutality with implying the law must have labeled Marcos as a dictator along with his other strict implementations. 

What’s disappointing about this is that although the Filipinos of that time truly did gain freedom, was that freedom equivalent enough to sacrifice all the great plans Ferdinand Marcos had for our country? Was the initial thought that our freedom at that moment was more righteous to be earned compared to the glory our country could’ve reached if the people weren’t easily swayed by the opinions of higher ups? It isn’t just this to reflect upon rather the reason behind why the uprising had to occur. It wasn’t just because of his leadership, but because he was accused for the assination of one of his fellow Filipinos, to which if traced back, no proof ever directly connected him to it. It was used as an excuse, to use this event as a way to sway and shift the public opinion towards what we may think as the harsh and brutal leadership of the President. Even in the past, people couldn’t stand that although the country was doing fine, they couldn’t get more of the share they wanted, they couldn’t be greedy because a man knew of their intentions. A few years ago, an article arose that Ferdinand Marcos was to be buried in the Cemetery of Heroes, a place where former presidents and national heroes rested. It was debated on if he really did deserve to be buried in such a sacred place. If he had no connection to the assassination, was all that the people did in EDSA a big show for nothing? No, it was a symbol, a sign, that us Filipinos could be free without the need of violence. That we could all join together and fight for what we think is the greater good for our people and country.

The term of President Ferdinand Marcos lasted 20 years. He had reigned with what we may call an iron fist. That led to many good things in our country. However, even those good things have an end. As the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. occurred things took a turn for the worst and he was forced to step down through the First People Power Revolution that happened on Februrary 22-25, 1989. When talking about his term, it’s the same as speaking with two sides of the coin. Although he may have brought an abundance of fear, he had also brought the great times and glory the Philippines has yet to experience. His birth and his term have brought a lot of things that even at times like now, our country hasn’t lived up to just yet. It truly deserves to be acknowledged because despite his impeachment, he among many other Presidents brought glory to the country of the Philippines.

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