I was only a year old when the EDSA Revolution happened, and what I knew of it, I learned in history class: the Martial Law, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, the snap elections, the military standoff, and the People Power.
While I have always been thankful to the generation that took to the streets to fight for the freedom that I enjoy as a Filipino today (traffic-geddon notwithstanding :s), I am glad that we have access to materials in commemoration of the EDSA revolution, giving us a chance to revisit this chapter of Philippine history, and read about the stories that should never be forgotten.
In honor of the EDSA revolution, here’s a roundup of EDSA-themed reading: “EDSA Uno: Narrative and Analysis with Notes on Dos & Tres” by Angela Stuart-Santiago, “The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos”/”Imelda Marcos: The Rise and Fall of One of the World’s Most Powerful Women” by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa; “Salingkit” by Cyan Abad-Jugo; “Isang Harding Papel” by Augie Rivera and Rommel Joson, and “EDSA” by Russell Molina and Sergio Bumatay III.
EDSA Uno: Narrative and Analysis with Notes on Dos & Tres was actually the Flips Flipping Pages selection for February last year. It’s a collection of research spanning decades as Angela Stuart-Santiago recreates a chronology of the events leading up to EDSA, from the Marcos era to the final six days leading up to the People Power revolution.
The book reads like an action-packed documentary, painting a vivid picture of events as they happened all across Malacañan, Cebu, Camps Aguinaldo and Crame, and right down to EDSA, and the hefty volume is supplemented by articles, interviews, and testimonials featuring key personalities and significant moments in the EDSA revolution.
Everyone was surprised when they saw my copy of the book, as it was tape-flagged almost from cover to cover. I found the book to be a comprehensive resource and I started adding tape flags to bits of information that caught my attention — mostly stuff that I had no previous knowledge about – and before I knew it I had run through a whole pack of tape flags! While the book wasn’t difficult to read, it definitely gave me a lot to reflect on, and I appreciated the deeper understanding it gave me of the EDSA revolution as well as the forces at work that propelled the historic event.
I don’t think I can rightfully say that I know how it must have felt to have been right there in the crowd that gathered for the People Power revolution, but this passage from the book gives me a good idea and made me wish that we, as a nation, could have preserved this feeling and kept it alive today:
Going to EDSA was like stepping into another world. Altered states. In the unified field of consciousness that was EDSA, the people found themselves easily rising above religious, political, and class differences, and willfully daring new ways of thinking and acting, relating and bonding, for the sake of the whole. EDSA was an unexpected treat, a taste, a glimpse, of a happier kind of existence. Life can be better, kinder, fairer. People can be selfless, caring, cooperative. Resources can be shared. Differences can be reconciled. Indeed, it was a smiling revolution. The people were feeling great, feeling affirmed by every other one’s presence, for the first time experiencing, and enjoying, a sense of connectedness with one’s fellow Pinoys and Pinays, a sense of unity and harmony and wholeness, which spirit lifted and expanded and enlightened every self, rendered it strong and steadfast and brave, and as it turned out, powerful enough to “disarm” Marcos’ soldiers.
The sections on EDSA Dos and Tres were also quite interesting. I was a high school senior during EDSA Dos and I had joined the demonstrations with friends and family, but the book helped me see the bigger picture of how the event came to be and why it resulted the way it did. Even more interesting was the commentary on EDSA Tres, which I was able to understand better and view with a more critical eye.
Drawing the parallels between the three events and being able to question the outcomes was the highlight of our book discussion, which was graced by the author herself. I’m glad we were able to tackle something so meaty — it’s one of the things I love about having a book club, being able to continuously challenge ourselves to read outside of our comfort zones.
The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos (published in 1969) and the updated Imelda Marcos: The Rise and Fall of One of the World’s Most Powerful Women (2013) by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa were among the first titles I got on my Kobo, because that time all my book club friends were reading it. I’m proud to say one of our very own Flippers, Orly (with the help of fellow Flipper Honey, who was then with digital publisher FlipSide) was instrumental in making this book available for reading once again. Orly had unearthed an old copy of the original book, tracked down the author, and convinced her to update and republish it.
While the book does not deal directly with the EDSA Revolution, it provides an edifying look at one of the key figures in that chapter of history, tracing Imelda Marcos’ humble beginnings in Leyte, her entry into Manila society, her whirlwind romance with Ferdinand Marcos, her reign as First Lady and Governor of Metro Manila, her flight from the Palace, and the immediate aftermath of the EDSA Revolution.
I found the book morbidly fascinating, especially in light of its history — possession of the book during the Martial Law would have landed you in jail — but it was equally insightful character profile as well, especially on her life before she was in the public eye.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Salingkit: A 1986 Diary by Cyan Abad-Jugo, was another book we discussed over at Flips Flipping Pages (actually in parallel to the book Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Scheffield) a couple of years ago. It’s a YA novel in the form of the journal of fifteen year old Kitty Eugenio, who navigates through her awkward adolescence in the time of Depeche Mode (fangirlism in the 80s, woot!), denim jackets, and yes, the EDSA Revolution.
While none of us cared for the lengthy and highly academic front matter (which we felt had no business in a YA novel, regardless of it being supplementary reading — perhaps a link to an online reading guide would have sufficed?), and while the book wasn’t very popular among those who read it in the book club, I was one of the outliers who wasn’t totally disappointed.
Most of the people at the discussion grew up in the 80s, with their own experiences of the EDSA Revolution, and they felt the book was quite lacking in capturing the events and the emotion of the era. Coming from the point of view of someone with virtually no memories of 1986, I thought the book was a good springboard to introduce a younger generation to that period in Philippine history. I had actually read the book with my fourteen-year old Chinese tutee, and we had fun looking up the songs and the fashion referenced in the novel, and we had gotten into a lengthy discussion of what was happening in the Philippines at that time. I felt that while the book was set well away from the front lines of the action, Kitty provides a relatable character that would spark an interest of a young reader to learn more about the EDSA revolution.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
For even younger readers, the last two in this selection are picture books from Adarna House: Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera and Rommel Joson, and EDSA by Russell Molina and Sergio Bumatay III.
Isang Harding Papel is a quiet, heartwarming story of young Jenny, the child of a political detainee during the Martial Law. Jenny visits her mother each week at Camp Crame and takes home a paper flower for every week they spend apart. It’s not a happy tale, but I love the subtlety of the emotion in Augie Rivera’s story, expertly reined and not overdramatic, and allows the book to be read on different levels, with nuances that can be picked up by older, more knowledgeable readers. Rommel Joson’s mixed media illustrations perfectly capture the mood of the story, and the clever use of the floral motif solidifies the visual narrative.
EDSA is a one of a kind counting book, featuring various scenes from the People Power Revolution: radios blaring, students singing, soldiers and tanks advancing, priests and nuns praying, and so on. Russell Molina’s spare text is rhythmic and catchy, combined with the spectacular visual feast laid out by Serj Bumatay, are sure to spark many hours of storytelling, and a creative tool in ensuring that the stories of EDSA keep getting told, especially to the very young.
Rating: Both 4.5/ 5 stars