1986 People Power Revolution: Where do we go from EDSA?


The dreams of 1986 were quite different from those of 2017.  The bright hopes of those who weathered the Marcos regime and survived the excesses of martial law have been dimmed by political squabbles, corruption in high places, twin insurgencies, culture of impunity and disappointing leadership.  Our dreams have been mired by our inability to use our best resources to solve age-old problems of disease, hunger, ignorance and poverty.

Many times in the past we mistook rhetoric for action, demonstration for accomplishment.  We made the mistake of assuming that by announcing our objectives they would be achieved.  But no such process occurred.  Nothing happens unless will, energy, drive and commitment are made as one. 

Those who did not experience “people power” are understandably impatient at the gap between promise and performance.  Our leaders, then and now, have given the people nothing but promises, promises, promises.

Where do we go from EDSA?  Nowhere, if we don’t go there.

Enough drift has characterized national affairs in the past thirty-one years.  Insurgencies and EDSA-2 have taught us painful lessons about the consequences of grievances left unattended.  If we fail to meet these grievances we shall learn even more vividly that a nation without answers to its domestic needs has no security.

The priorities we have to set out for men, women and children are the right to have a share in the fruit of social labor.  The priorities must recognize the inter-relationship of jobs, income, education, health care, housing, transportation, recreation and environmental protection in the balanced development of both urban and rural communities.

Our priorities must consider the imbalance between our needs and priorities.  We have to overcome the disjointed system of government by requiring more regional planning, by broadening the categories of programs and grant-in-aid, by encouraging coordination of local efforts in such programs as growth centers, and by trying to find better ways to pull together different agencies within the national framework.  All these efforts must take place against the background of citizens’ demand.

The goals of administrative efficiency and democratic procedures are not incompatible.  One has to do with how we develop public policy; the other has to do with how to carry it out.  To make both possible and compatible, we need to utilize the technologies of data-processing, of communications, and of management technique to sort out the volumes of information which may inundate us.  Having measured our needs and the solutions available to us, we need to put that information in the hands of policy makers whose responsibility is to the electorate.

The decisions of the present Administration, the Congress, and the people are not merely decisions for 2013, they are decisions for 2037 and beyond.  These are not merely decisions to determine the socioeconomic needs of the country, they are decisions to determine the direction of our public policy and our capability to resist internal destruction.

Our greatest needs are the determination to make certain that civil strife does not break out, the sense of national purpose to keep our priorities straight, and the commitment to devote our energies to the fulfillment of the promise of our democratic society.  We can’t return to the dreams of 1986, but we can rekindle the hope we had — and with better reason — if we have learned our lessons well.


Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan

Edited and republished 25 February 2017

Pasig City, Metro Manila, PHILIPPINES


1986 EDSA revolt in retrospect

Images of the bloodless 1986 people power revolt in the Philippines

The late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos placing the entire Philippines under martial law on September 11, 1972 .

The late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. whose assassination triggered the 1986 people power revolt and the downfall of Marcos.

Sen. Aquino preparing to deplane after his arrival at the Manila airport from Teipei.





Airport security camera footage moments after the shooting of Sen. Aquino and his alleged assassin Rolando Galman.  Ironically, no airport camera reputedly captured the actual shootings of Aquino and Galman.





The widow Corazon “Cory” Aquino viewing the remains of her slained husband.





Hundreds of thousands jammed the streets to witness or join the funeral procession of Sen. Aquino.






Pres. Marcos announcing the holding of a presidential “snap election” in February 1986, as a result of daily street protests and pressure from Washington.

The opposition fielded the widow Corazon”Cory” Aquino against Marcos during the 1986 presidential snap election.





A visibly ill Marcos wiping his face during a campaign sortie.

Presidential candidate Corazon Aquino on the campaign trail.

Amidst public outcry and indignation over the alleged election cheating by Marcos, then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile (right) and armed forces vice chief of staff Fidel Ramos  withdrew their support from Marcos.





The late Jaime “Cardinal” Sin, Archibishop of Manila, calling on the Filipinos to troop to EDSA and shield Enrile and Ramos against attacks by military forces loyal to Marcos.





People trooping to EDSA to shield Enrile and Ramos and call for Marcos to step down.





Protesters blocking anti riot military contingent 

EDSA protesters bravely blocking military tanks 3 years before the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in China’

“Flower power”

The power of prayers over military might

Full blown EDSA revolt

The late armed forces chief of staff Fabian Ver seeking permission from Marcos to quell the EDSA revolt.





A defiant Marcos and his wife Imelda rallying supporters from a balcony in Malacañang Palace.





Pres. Corazon Aquino hastily sworn into office

Man reading newspaper account of Marcos’ flight to Hawaii

The Marcoses and their retinue of maids landing in Hawaii

Marcos and wife Imelda on exile in Hawaii where he eventually died.

Pres. Corazon Aquino hailed as “Woman of the Year”