Saturday, February 25, 2017


WHERE was I on Feb. 25 31 years ago?

Like any member of the genus Neotoma, I pride myself in being a passionate collector. The genuine packrats in the animal world, woodrats stockpile debris in their nests.

Over the years, I’ve kept many of my notebooks. These are the old-fashioned ones: paper bound by thread, spring or glue. I took notes, planned lectures, reflected, and doodled.

The notebooks are not valuable. First, I can barely read my penmanship. Most importantly, I cannot remember where I kept the hoard. What use is a record that cannot be found?

Yet, yesterday’s 31st anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution reminded me why I would rather not part with a notebook.

In my attitude towards writing, reading and recollecting, I perhaps share more affinity with war survivors than rodents.

Persons who endured extreme deprivation in World War II cannot seem to let go of their possessions.

What’s worthless for others may be insurance against hardship. Or is writing just memories made tangible and easier to retrieve?

By stirring up people to express different perspectives about an event in 1986, President Duterte has made People Power timely and relevant again, a brilliant stroke in resuscitating Filipinos’ dependably undependable sense of history.

The MalacaƱang pronouncement that Filipinos should not dwell in the past and the President’s decision to skip the low-key ceremony did not prevent people from engaging like no past spectacle at the Edsa Shrine has orchestrated.

Yesterday, I watched TV coverage of a small group of black-shirted protesters move in after another group moved away from the Edsa Shrine. Against tradition, the administration held the Edsa rite at the military headquarters in Quezon City.

People choose their memories. Most of the faces holding up the black banner of protest were born after the Philippine Revolution of 1986.

A day before the 31st Edsa Revolution anniversary, I participated in a Cebu seminar training the media and members of civil society on monitoring the judiciary. The seminar kit came in a black envelope.

A former student, now a lawyer with a civil society organization, stood out in her black T-shirt with words bringing back an era in what the great historian Renato Constantino called as our continuing past.

On Feb. 25, 2017, I started to hunt for 31-year-old notebooks.

There is an online game called “a reunion of friends”. One is asked to describe a first meeting with one word. In the intersecting circles of friends, there is an infinite variety of words to describe first meetings.

For Feb. 25, 1986, my word is “community”. What’s yours?

( 09173226131)

* First published in SunStar Cebu’s February 26, 2017 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”

No comments: