The fall of people power

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 12:00am

This week, the country marks the 19th anniversary of the peaceful 'people power' uprising which freed us from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Oops, wait a minute, I have just remembered that Imelda Marcos is suing people who call her dead former husband a 'dictator'. So, let me clarify that we are celebrating a revolt against a cruel, deranged power-hungry and immoral president who I am not necessarily calling a dictator.

Over the years, the observance of this national holiday has become increasingly lacklustre. One way you can tell is that at 'Edsa Day' rites, the police and journalists have been steadily outnumbering the crowd of celebrants. Pretty soon, they will have to drop 'people' from 'people power'.

But if you are one of the five or six Filipinos who still sincerely wants to join the festivities, it is easy to find them. Just follow the nearest horde of angry demonstrators, dodge the military barricades and water cannon, then slip into the celebration site itself, where you will see some of the nation's prominent leaders. If, that is, you stand on tiptoe to peer over the phalanx of riot police surrounding the stage. It is clear the spirit of Edsa has run out of steam. The government has been doing what it can to shore up attendance - for instance, government employees have been ordered to attend the rites. This way, when the president gives a speech, she will see only the beaming faces of people who know they are being paid for time off.

I think we should do something before 'people power' week becomes just another boring, pointless ceremony - like presidential inaugurations. Why not have a meaningful re-creation of those great events? Round up the Marcoses to attend. Then we could overthrow them again.

Of course, it would probably be hard to drive them out of the country, considering that they happen to be governors, congressmen, and the like. But perhaps we could call them up to the stage where they could be given a symbolic nudge.

Imelda Marcos should not be hard to find. She is usually at some expensive fashion product launch. Even Ferdinand Marcos' body is still above ground, cooling nicely in a refrigerated display case. It could be dragged along and honoured with a proper display of candles and powerful searchlights.

The president could then deliver a stirring speech recalling the heroism of 1986 and sternly reminding the Marcoses how decisively they have been punished for their crimes. Then, afterwards, she could have a private word with them to borrow a couple of billion from their stash in Switzerland.