A front view of the Edsa Shrine’s calm facade taken an hour before scheduled protests on February 25, 2024 at the historic site for the commemoration of the 38th People Power anniversary. Photo by Zeus Legaspi/INQUIRER.net

A front view of the Edsa Shrine’s calm facade, taken an hour before scheduled protests on February 25, 2024, at the historic site for the commemoration of the 38th People Power anniversary. (Photo by ZEUS LEGASPI / INQUIRER.net




Manila, Philippines — While President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. may not have declared Feb. 25 a holiday, this did not prevent groups, including some government agencies, from commemorating the 38th anniversary of the first People Power Revolution that saw millions of people gathered for four days on Edsa, leading to the ouster of his father and namesake, and the restoration of democracy in the country.

But unlike in previous years, no prominent personalities were at the traditional flag-raising and wreath-laying rites held in the morning by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines at the People Power Monument in White Plains, Quezon City.

Present were NHCP chair Emmanuel Franco Calairo, Quezon City assistant administrator Rene Grapilon who represented Mayor Joy Belmonte, Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission executive director Carmelo Victor Crisanto, Spirit of Edsa Foundation chair Christopher Carrion, Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation chair Chel Diokno, August 21 Movement president Maan Hontiveros, Chino Roces Foundation’s Rebecca Quijano, and De La Salle University Manila student council president Raphael Hari-Ong.

Blue, red, yellow and white confetti showered the attendees, as a medley of popular Edsa anthems “Bayan Ko,” “Magkaisa” and “Isang Lahi” was sung by Edwin Cando.

‘Freedom Ride’

In Makati City, the newly formed Buhay ang Edsa Campaign Network—composed of social movement groups, church leaders, political parties, sectoral groups and nongovernment organizations—started its lineup of activities with the “Edsa Freedom Ride” in which over a hundred cyclists, skaters and joggers in yellow shirts converged at the Ninoy Aquino Monument at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas.

Among the attendees were Aquino’s daughter Viel Aquino-Dee and grandson Francis Joseph “Kiko” Dee, one of the conveners of the Buhay ang Edsa Campaign Network.

“While we’re grateful to still be in a democracy today, we see the same shadowy and self-interested moves being made by politicians to perpetuate themselves in power. That said, for the Buhay Ang Edsa coalition, today isn’t about making a political call but to celebrate what Filipinos can achieve when faced with these challenges,” Kiko Dee said.

Also at the event were four of the 12 surviving framers of the 1987 Constitution: Florangel Rosario Braid, Edmundo Garcia, Christian Monsod and Rene Sarmiento.

Two of the 35 vote tabulators during the rigged 1986 snap elections—Mina Bergara and Myrna “Shiony” Asuncion-Binamira—were there, along with the kin of democracy icons Agapito “Butz” Aquino, Jose Wright Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada and Rene Saguisag, all former senators.

Participation of youth

Government officials during the administrations of Aquino and her son, the late Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, also showed up. One of them, former presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles, another convener of the Buhay ang Edsa Campaign Network, was teary-eyed upon learning there were a number of young people present.

“We are always happy to work with the youth—those under 30—even if they say that they were not yet born during the time of the first Edsa. And they are gaining numbers, so for us, the elderly, it gives us satisfaction,” she said.

Deles admitted they were having a problem making Edsa relevant to the youth, saying it was their generation’s “shortcoming for neglecting its story and legacy.”

“We have to reclaim and make sure to bring people together again. We have to be brave and come out in the streets to celebrate our victory and legacy,” she said.

The University of the Philippines, on the other hand, said: “While excluded [from] the list of holidays for the year, the spirit of the day remains alive, as its significance, lessons and inspiration, are in the heart of every Filipino.”