As the country commemorates the 35th year of Edsa People Power 1, Senator Kiko Pangilinan on Tuesday recalled being part of the world’s first peaceful uprising during his time as a student leader at the University of the Philippines (UP).
“Becoming ‘woke’ is a continuing process. I am fortunate to have been there and been part of among the world’s first peaceful overthrow of [a dictatorship] government,” Pangilinan said during an online forum.
Since the anti-dictatorship movement was at its peak then, Pangilinan said his position as USC councilor for school year 1985-1986 was both easy and hard at that time.
“In a way, getting others to listen to us, to join us, to hold mass actions with us was easy. But the road to Edsa was paved with the sacrifices and heroism, many of them young people’s. Some of those who suffered under the Marcos regime were friends,” said the former student leader.
After the overthrow of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Pangilinan said rebuilding the country from the ashes of dictatorship was difficult and challenging due to the existence of the tyrant’s tentacles in the bureaucracy and in the deeply ingrained culture of corruption.
As he looks at the present situation, the veteran lawmaker said today’s youth faces a similar challenge and the same call.
“Then and now, the youth is confronted with the same call – to stand up for their rights, to not give up the fight. Edsa [People Power 1986] is precisely a symbol of standing up, speaking out, and not allowing abuse to continue,” Pangilinan said, adding young people have always been at the forefront of social change.
Pangilinan said even the K-pop phenomenon BTS calls on the youth to make a stand and take action through some of their hit songs.
“Sabi nila: ‘If what you see on the news is nothing to you … You’re not normal, you’re abnormal,’” Pangilinan said, referring to the lyrics of the K-Pop group’s hit song “Am I Wrong.”
In parting, he challenged the youth to be inspired by others and “find what they can do, then run with it.”