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When the church bell rang out loud and clear

By Julia Carreon-Lagoc
February 26, 2018


Beyond Valentine’s Day, February 14, what other day is February famous for? An elementary question for pupils in grade school, but did they get it quick and simple? Hey, did you?

Lest you shake your head, February 25. 1986 had gone down in history books as the Philippines’ People Power Revolution. Bloodless. No violence. Not a gun was fired. That was 32 years ago. The young generation of that time will have vague remembrance of the momentous events that toppled the Marcos dictatorship—neither will the very young who will only resort to history books for their enlightenment.

And so, I quote from Wikipedia: “The Philippines was praised worldwide in 1986, when the so-called bloodless revolution erupted, called EDSA People Power’s Revolution. February 25, 1986 marked a significant national event that has been engraved in the hearts and minds of every Filipino. This part of Philippine history gives us a strong sense of pride especially that other nations had attempted to emulate what we have shown the world of the true power of democracy.”

 Think about what the sage George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote in The Life of Reason: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." No more demonstrations when we held high the placards “Marcos! Hitler! Dictador! Tuta!” –demos that ended many of us activists languishing in the stockade. No more sham Court trials where my own dear Rudy, the hubby, stood counsel to student demonstrators. Loud criticism of the Marcos administration, in print and radio and in rallies, led to his being “invited” by the military to answer a “few questions”—an “invitation” that confined him in the stockade for nearly eight months.

No more dictatorship, not even a taint of it—thus we pledged and—believe you me—continue to pledge unto ourselves. “Cross my heart, and hope to die”—comes back from the high school banter of long ago, little knowing that what we swore by will burn even more passionately than ever before.

Why the title of this column? In a seminar I attended years ago, UP Dean Armando J. Malay asked: “Where were you when the lights went out?” Long and painful accounts with the Proclamation of Martial Law that spilled blood, sweat, and tears, and lives. So how about, “Where were you when the lights went back?” Yeah, leave the doomsday scenario; for now, focus on the end of Marcos’ Martial Law.

Where was I when the lights went back? February 23-24, the radio kept describing the scenes at EDSA—nuns kneeling and praying the rosary in front of tanks, the soldiers unmoving in their stations, military officers stoics in their posts. February 25, Radio Veritas came up with the finale: The Marcoses have fled Malacanang Palace. The pall of gloom was lifted out of our country! All lights on! Breathe our freest, people!

So, where was I when the lights went back? The children, Rudy and I were out in the street along with friends and neighbors. Amidst the victorious shouting and dancing, I went back to the house, looked up for the phone number of the Oton convent, informed the priest how much we rejoiced with the news from Radio Veritas, and “Father, will you please ring the church bell? Please!” The bell rang out loud and clear!

When the rejoicing calmed down, the family squirmed in our Volkswagen beetle to join the city folks in celebrating the triumph of democracy!

This time I like to be redundant. Repeat it again for the second time once more: No more dictatorship, not even a taint of it.


Julia Carreon-Lagoc was a columnist of PANAY NEWS for two decades. She 

pops up with Accents now and then.


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