Heroes all around us
On the 30th anniversary of the Edsa Revolution this month, many writers are coming up with personal reminiscences about that most significant event, which resulted in freedom being regained and redeemed in our benighted land.
Many Filipinos emerged as heroes who dared the dictatorship to do its worst—and firmly opposed it by doing their best.
For my part, I was probably the most terrified “hero” at Edsa—I did step up to be counted, but I was quivering in my boots, unlike my braver friends like Manuel Pichel who, with many others, guarded a military camp’s gate even as government troops and tanks converged on it!
Still queasy and quaking, I took heart from their resolute example, as well as from the longer-term bravery of another good friend, Behn Cervantes, who way back in the early ’80s had already pioneered in the activist use of theater to expose and oppose the regime.
On Edsa’s 30th anniversary, therefore, I think not of my puny participation, but of Manny and Behn, fellow Manunuris both, and their truly heroic contributions.
I think, too, of another theater and media colleague and friend, June Keithley, who manned the pivotal Radyo Bandido radio station that greatly steeled the Edsa heroes’ firm resolve. She could have begged off, but didn’t—and thus herself became a prime target for “silencing.”
Years later, she confided to me that there was such an imminent threat to her life. —But, she was moved to tears when dozens of strangers used their bodies to fill up the stairs leading up to the covert radio station. —To get to her, the dictator’s death squad would have to kill them first!
Behn, Manny and June are no longer with us, but their courage should inspire us. In their heart of hearts, they may sometimes have been as terrified as I was, but they mastered their fears, focused on the potentially deadly challenge at hand—and saw the nation through.
These days, some people are belittling the selfless achievement of our Edsa heroes, but we must resist their sinister seduction. Instead, we should make it a point to remember, be grateful, celebrate and overcome this generation’s own fears—and focus on defending and saving the country now.
A nation is ennobled and defined by its heroes. We’ve had more than our share of them, at Edsa and at other sticking points in our long and turbulent history—so that proud and brave realization should again define us—and see us through!