Sunday, February 22, 2009

One Shining Moment That's Still Here

We tend too easily to forget how once, we - as a nation - captured the world's imagination, very arguably in terms far, far greater than even Obama does - or is it did? - early this year.

Here's how TIME Magazine put it back then:

Try not to forget what you saw last week. You say now that it would be impossible to forget: Filipinos armed to the teeth with rosaries and flowers, / massing in front of tanks, and the tanks stopping, and some of the soldiers who were the enemy embracing the people and their flowers. Call that a revolution? Where were the heads stuck on pikes? Where were the torches for the estates of the rich? The rich were in the streets with the poor, a whole country up in flowers. In a short string of remarkable days a crooked election was held and exposed; a dignified woman established her stature and leadership; a despot ranted, sweated, fled; a palace changed guard--all with a minimum of blood lust and an abundance of determination and common national will...

Looking ahead, the world wants to see if the country can cast off a history of violence and corruption that long preceded Marcos. For a stunning moment, however, the essential impulse stood up for all to marvel at. There before your eyes a thought became a decision became a deed, with no other impetus than that a people realized they had a claim on their own souls.

Time would also later write that:

By reviving the promise of democracy without bloodshed, all too rare in the past, the Philippine revolution also held up a candle of hope in some of the world's darker corners. Moderate South Africans, for example, could take some heart from the success of civil disobedience; nor could they fail to note the victory of a woman who was once her jailed husband's ambassador to the world, much as Winnie Mandela works in the name of her imprisoned husband Nelson. In overthrowing Marcos, moreover, (Filipinos) helped erase a whole volume of shibboleths. (They) showed that politics could be the art of the impossible; that force could speak softly and carry a small stick; that religion could be not the opium but the stimulant of the masses; that nice guys, whatever their gender, sometimes finish first.

That shining moment may seem so long ago, but it has only been 23 years - not even a blink, really, in geologic time. :-)

And remember that we are still the same - THE SAME! - Filipinos who stood side by side, stopped those tanks, and sparked people power revolutions elsewhere from South Korea to Eastern Europe to even China. And if only for that reason, then we must believe and affirm that the same capacity for change and hope and dreams remains alive in each and all of us.

Happy revolutions, everyone!

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