Prior to reading Edsa Uno, I always thought that there's nothing new to know about the People Power Revolution in 1986 that happened in 4 days—from Saturday, 22 February, to Tuesday, the 25th. I was 12 years old at that time, and we were living just in front of one of the camps, Camp Aguinaldo, where some of the historic events took place. I distinctly remember my parents buying a whole box of bread. When I asked them what it was for, they just replied, "We're giving it to the soldiers." So in a way, by virtue of proximity, I was there during People Power I.
To say that Edsa Uno has been a very enlightening read would be an understatement. I never knew that Enrile and Ramos was involved in a coup attempt to oust Marcos just a few days before Edsa. I never knew that Enrile harbored ambition to be the leader of our country in a junta government. I never knew that there was a brief power struggle during those 4 days between the camps of Corazon Aquino and the military defectors (Enrile and Ramos). I never knew that Marcos was more or less kidnapped by the US government when he left Malacañang Palace with his family. I never knew that I didn't know a lot of things. It's a great feeling, this finally knowing. It would feel even greater if other people would know too.
Stuart-Santiago's book, for all intents and purposes, is a chronology. Edsa Uno presents all the details that happened during those fateful days. The research that went into this chronology is admirable. Stuart-Santiago's narrative is filled with first-hand accounts of people who played a part during this momentous period in Philippine history. Actually, most of the book is just that—people telling what was happening at a particular time. It feels wonderful reading their stories. With their stories, I kept imagining myself right in the thick of things. When these people recounted how they feared for their lives when they formed a human barricade to stop the tanks from getting to the military camps, you really feel the tension.
By the book's end, I wonder why we never fully realized the promise of the revolution. Here we still are, in a country ruled by the elite. Edsa Uno does make an analysis of what went right and wrong for the Philippines in line with the peaceful revolution of 1986. It even compares that event with the two other revolutions that happened in 2001, events which also transpired in Edsa, that highway that all residents of Manila are all familiar with. It's a bit disheartening to read the closing sections of the book. However, the book still makes it clear—People Power I was indeed a success, but the events after it are another matter altogether.
Reading Edsa Uno, I am reminded of the opening line in Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The mid 1980s under the Marcos dictatorship was probably the worst of times for most Filipinos. But those years were a catalyst in bringing out the best among us, Filipinos. And for 4 days, the Filipino spirit was in its best form for all the world to see.
Read this book if:
- You've always been fascinated by the peaceful Philippine revolution of 1986.
- You know that history isn't boring at all.
- You just want to know.