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A history of the people power revolution against president marcos in the philippines

Beginning with the assassination in l983 of the popular opposition leader Senator Benigno Ninoy Aquino, the movement against Marcos grew rapidly. Imprisoned for seven years by Marcos, Aquino had experienced a deep conversion in his concentrated study of the Bible and Gandhi.

This led him to begin advocating a nonviolent revolution against dictatorship. His subsequent martyrdom fueled the determination of many Filipinos to continue in his radical nonviolent path. I felt a strong affinity with this emerging movement. I had taught social ethics at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines for thirteen years. Coming from the southern US where I was part of the civil rights struggle, the parallels with the Philippine situation were strong: Martin Luther King, Jr.

The nuns asked the Goss-Mayrs, a French-Austrian couple, to come to the Philippines to help assess the situation. They came and met with church leaders the country is over ninety percent Christianpeasants, labor and student leaders and community organizers. Out of these meetings came the decision to build a nonviolent movement that would oppose the dictatorship. Long active in anti-war efforts and the civil rights movement, I returned to the Philippines and joined in the nonviolence trainings, accompanied by Stefan Merken, Jewish pacifist, photographer and writer also active in the IFOR.

Our efforts spread over a wide swath of Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. We traveled by public bus from place to place where our workshops were held: The trainings were for invited persons only and were not publicly announced or noticed. Long active in anti-war efforts and the civil rights movement, I returned to the Philippines and joined in the nonviolence trainings.

We did role plays, where participants would take assigned parts, such as a tenant farmer dealing with an oppressive landlord, or a worker stopped by an armed soldier for questioning. Participants shared their opinions and experiences and began to feel strength that came from verbalizing and acting out internal struggles that often had been held in silence.

Learning of what had happened in India, in the US and other places was a powerful incentive for action. Ordinary people had done extraordinary things creating a contagion out of which movements had been born. Merken fascinated the participants with his Jewish perspective on biblical nonviolence. There was universal disgust with dictatorship but some thought one just had to passively endure it. Others refused to sanction violence even in a just struggle.

But some had heard that I was part of monthly vigils against the Vietnam War; others had been my students in seminary and had seen me at student demonstrations favoring democracy. The workshop became a safe place where these contradictory ideas and accusations were aired.

Power Back to the People:The Philippine Revolution of 1986

Along with vigorous discussion were also moments of humor that joined us together in shared laughter. Through it all, the examination of Gandhi, King and Aquino led to an emerging understanding that, as Dr. A history of the people power revolution against president marcos in the philippines martyrdom of Senator Aquino heightened the determination of the people to end their long tyranny. Maybe his death was a signpost, not another dead end. Neither of us had any idea, of course, that less than a year later Marcos would have fled the country when faced with nonviolent masses of Filipinos.

The seeds planted in the workshops among Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and others of no particular faith; clergy and laity, intellectuals, students, peasant and labor leaders began to give birth to intensive efforts around the country to build a resistance community.

Little by little, but also in unexpected leaps and bounds, there emerged a solid core of activists - including many key leaders - ready for a showdown with the Marcos dictatorship. Workshop participants in Non Violence in Northern Luzon The workshops of 1984 and 1985 were catalysts that awakened new possibilities into being. Age old habits of fatalism gave way to a determination for a better future. From cardinals and bishops to local priests and nuns, ministers and women deacons, brave students and farmers, a chorus rang out calling for change - dangerous and daring but absolutely necessary.

Life is full of surprises and the unexpected occurred again and again. A deeply divided opposition united behind Corazon Cory Aquino, the widow of the slain senator. She agreed to run against Marcos after one million Filipinos signed petitions supporting her.

She went on retreat to think and pray before being willing to stand for election. I have no experience in killing, lying, robbing my country. Despite fraud, intimidation and violence employed by Marcos, the Aquino forces brilliantly used a nonviolent strategy of marches, vigils, petitions, trained poll watchers and an independent polling commission. When Marcos tried to steal the election the country moved to the brink of civil war. The next morning Filipinos began arriving outside Camp Aguinaldo where the defecting troops had gathered.

By noon there were 100,000 resisters; by 2: Hundreds of thousands more arrived the next day. After first going into hiding, they met with the international press and publicly denounced the official counting, exposing the fraud to the world. Cory Aquino called for a nonviolent struggle of rallies, vigils and civil disobedience to undermine the fraudulent claim of Marcos that he had won the election.

Manilla slum where non violence training organizes the people. Church leaders fully backed her call; in fact, the Catholic bishops made a historic decision to call upon the people to nonviolently oppose the Marcos government. Crucial defections from the government by two key leaders - Minister of Defense Ponce Enrile and General Fidel Ramos, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and Commander of the Philippine Constabulary - and a few hundred troops became the occasion for masses of unarmed Filipinos to pour into the streets of Manila to protect the defectors and demand the resignation of the discredited government.

Women, men and children, young and old, rich and poor, gathered along the circumferential highway around Manila which ran alongside the camp where the rebel troops had gathered. The highway where the showdown occurred is named Epifanio de los Santos - the Epiphany of the Saints!. Readings of the Bible, of Gandhi, Jesus and King were aired. Regular announcements kept the people informed of what was happening and what was needed.

Long kept in the dark because of censored news in the media, the people turned to the Catholic radio station Veritas, an indispensable source of information and inspiration. When its transmitter was destroyed by government forces, broadcasting was resumed on a nearby frequency. When fighter planes were sent to bomb the rebel camp, the pilots saw it surrounded by the people and defected.

Soldiers are supposed to protect the civilians. In this particular case, you have civilians protecting the soldiers.

  • I remembered that the first time I had been here, the day after the election, Imelda had slipped in and sat at the side;
  • In subsequent rallies and varied mass actions, demonstrators, linking arms and bearing no weapons, bravely faced the U;
  • Hold on; not to attack.

People even knelt in front of tanks coming to crush them Perhaps that lone Chinese man standing in front of a column of tanks at Tiananmen Square had seen on TV what happened in Manila a few years before.

A Protestant pastor stressed how well organized the barricades were. He and some others from the workshops had learned about the example of the Czechs who in 1968 had faced down the Russian tanks. The Filipinos set up groups to check with each other and keep out infiltrators. Their plans were very simple: When tear gas was thrown, the first line would disperse to be replaced by those in the back.

When they heard of stone throwing at the presidential palace some of the religious groups went there immediately to stop it. Facing the collapse of his support, Marcos, his family and an entourage of his inner circle fled the country. After two months of the contested election, the dictatorship fell in four days. Corazon Aquino peacefully assumed power. I had been receiving some letters and reports although such news was sketchy in those pre-internet days. But as the movement grew and the coming election neared, there was increasing radio and television coverage.

We met together often, shared news, talked by phone, prayed for the Filipino people in their struggle. I was on a speaking trip in Michigan when Marcos fled the Philippines. I took my transistor radio with me to hear all the breaking news.

I began to be interviewed by the press but most reporters were incredulous to think a nonviolent overthrow had occurred; some suggested that the hand of Reagan or the CIA must have been at work. This was a teachable moment in which I explained the background and preparation for a new era in the Islands, based not on the power of the gun but on the power of the people: But even today, alas, many people are still pre- Gandhian in their thinking.

But even today, alas, many people are still pre-Gandhian in their thinking. When Aquino became president, I phoned Fr. I told him that even in our village of Nyack, many of us had gathered at the post office holding yellow posters that called on Americans to support the peaceful revolution in the Philippines.

In her first news conference after Aquino became President, she said: The world saw and recorded a people who knelt in the path of on-coming tanks and subdued with embraces of friendship the battle-hardened troops sent out to disperse them and annihilate the military rebels. All the world wondered as they witnessed, in the space of two months, a people lift themselves from humiliation to the greatest pride.

I heard these words with amazement.