On February 22, 1986, Filipinos of all ages, classes, and backgrounds joined together in unity to demand the resignation of President Ferdinand Marcos. People along Epifanio de los Santo Avenue (EDSA), the main thoroughfare that runs through the metropolitan area, and some other parts of the Philippines took part in the demonstrations, which came to be known as the “EDSA Revolution.” The event marked a massive upheaval in Philippine politics and not only led to the dissolution of President Marcos’ two-decade regime but also paved the way for the current democracy and international reputation held by the Filipino nation.
Prior to the EDSA Revolution, the Philippines lacked a stable government and civil liberties were suffering. During Marcos’ rule, the economy of the nation deteriorated significantly and acts of human rights abuses were rampant. In 1985, the Marcos-led government held a presidential election, in which he declared himself winner, despite reports of widespread electoral fraud. The people of the Philippines could not take this anymore and found a leader to fight this injustice in Corazon Aquino, the wife of slain opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. She called on the people to join forces and march to EDSA, where they took a stand against a corrupt, oppressive regime.
Filipinos in EDSA and its surrounding areas used creative non-violent methods to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. Groups of citizens formed “human barricades” to block military troops from entering the protest area and acts of civil disobedience were observed time and time again. There was widespread solidarity amongst the protesters, and even members from the military refused to follow Marcos’ orders in certain cases. This contributed significantly towards the ultimate success of the Revolution, as citizens fortified their demands for democracy and justice.
The power of the Filipino People finally saw a breakthrough after months of demonstrations. Moreover, Marcos was eventually forced out of office and fled the country to Hawaii. In the decades following the events of EDSA Revolution, Filipino citizens began to enjoy a more functional framework of governance characterized by stability and an environment where corruption was dealt with in a harsher and more efficient manner.
The EDSA Revolution secured the international reputation of the Philippines as a functioning democracy, a stance that has proven beneficial to the nation’s economic and political position in the world today. The momentous events inspired a wave of reforms in the country and modern Filipinos continue to live with the legacy of the Revolution, where freedom of speech, the right to protest, and civil liberties are protected by the law.
The EDSA Revolution is an integral part of Filipino identity and offers key lessons about the power of a unified voice and how great social changes can be achieved through peaceful means. For the brave individuals who were part of the event, it will always remain the monumental event that changed the course of Philippine History.