Homily delivered by Archbishop Socrates B Villegas during the Mass on the occasion of the twenty fifth anniversary of Edsa People Power on February 25, 2011 at the Edsa Shrine at 12:15 pm.
My priesthood is as old as the Edsa people power. I am proud to say that my view and appreciation of my vocation as a priest has been greatly influenced by Edsa 1986. Ngayong silver jubilee ng Edsa, silver ko rin bilang pari. Sa golden jubilee ng Edsa, golden ko rin bilang pari. Sa centennial ng Edsa, patay na ako noon, ayoko nang mag centennial bilang pari. Sobra na. Tama na. Pahinga na. I know that the Edsa spirit will outlive all of us because the Edsa spirit represents the best and the highest, the noblest and the most sublime aspirations of humanity for a society of peace and justice and freedom. The Edsa spirit is not just a Filipino spirit. It is a universal spirit in the family of nations.
We are here to remember and in remembering, we give thanks. We remember Edsa by remembering the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. We remember how He offered bread and wine on the night he was betrayed and told us to eat his Body and drink his Blood. Today we remember the love of Jesus. The memory of that love impelled us in 1986 to love one another here on the holy ground of Edsa. The Lord is the source of all love and the Lord is our peace. Without the Lord, Edsa would not have been such.
The Edsa epic story did not begin on the night of February twenty second 1986 when Cardinal Sin called on all of us through Radio Veritas to support our friends Minister Enrile and General Ramos. Neither did the Edsa story just begin with the killing of Ninoy Aquino on August twenty one 1983. In the divine plan of God, the Almighty already knew from the beginning of creation that in February 1986, the glory of being Filipino will shine all over the world. Edsa was not just a plan of men and women. Edsa was planned by the hand of God no less. Do not forget God when you remember Edsa.
As we behold the timelessness of God, we also exclaim in amazement: How time flies! How fast time flies! How we miss Cardinal Sin! How we wish Tita Cory were here with us! So much has happened to us in the past twenty five years. Our cynical friends in 1986 have fallen away and just refused to join the ceremonies which for them have become meaningless. Our opponents in 1986 have joined our kapit bisig. The rabid protesters against the dictator have become symbols of corruption themselves. The demonstrators against the conjugal dictatorship have become builders of their own political dynasties. The idealists have become pragmatists. The tortured have become torturers. Our pride has turned into frustrations. All of these in only twenty five years!
The twenty fifth year of Edsa gives us reason to thank the Lord and thank the millions of Filipinos who brought four shining days of glory to the history of our beloved country. But our joy and thanksgiving are mixed with frustration and disdain. As we say Salamat, we also shake our heads and strike our breasts with heads bowed and say: Sayang!
Sinayang natin ang Edsa! In 1986, the people came together to defend our soldiers from the revenge of the President who cheated the elections. The election cheating of 1986 was not the last. Many more cheatings happened after—massive, systematic and brazen and the guilty just refused to resign. Sinayang natin ang Edsa!
In 1986, the military was the darling of the people. AFP was armed forces of the people. With the dizzying magnitude of corruption among our military officials, shall we still gather together at Edsa if they seek our help and protection? The pre-Edsa military corruption that we rallied against in the 1980’s is chicken feed compared to the corruption we have been hearing about lately. Nakakasuka! Sinayang natin ang Edsa!
In 1986, we saw the power of millions of people coming together for freedom and peace. The more people, the more secure we felt. Now on its twenty fifth year, we say the opposite—the less people the better! In 1986, we said Tama na! Sobra na! Palitan na! Now, we say, Tama na ang isa! Sobra na ang dalawa! Mag pills ka na! Bakit nagkaganito? Contraception and corruption belong to same family. Contraception iscorruption of the soul. Sayang.
In 1986, we raised our rosaries in prayer and stopped with our bare hands the tanks sent to crush us. I can still remember the billboard that stood on this street corner twenty five years ago. The family that prays together stays together. A world at prayer is a world at peace. Are will still a nation in prayer? If we want peace, pray. If we want unity, pray. If we want healing, pray. Tita Cory taught us that. Did we bury prayer power when she died? Sayang.
President Noy won our hearts with his campaign promise Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.After twenty four years of Edsa, corruption is incredibly still our problem and we are still searching for a solution to this social cancer. Sayang! Should not Edsa have taught us how to select leaders of integrity, sincerity and character? But in the elections after 1986, we so easily compromised our principles and chose “to see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil”, provided we were given our share in the loot of corruption. Sayang.
Can we who are here celebrating Edsa truthfully say that we have never enjoyed benefits from corruption? Can we honestly say that we have never tolerated corruption? Sayang.
As it was in 1986, so it is now. We are at the crossroads again. It is time again to make choices—right choices, moral choices, fearless choices, selfless choices. Buhayin natin ang panatang makabayan. Ibigin natin ang Pilipinas sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa!!
How will it be when Edsa celebrates its golden year twenty five years from now? It is not enough to be less corrupt. By that time, we must be incorrupt and incorruptible. I hope when Edsa people power celebrates its fiftieth year, campaign promises to fight corruption will not be necessary anymore because each one of us would have made a firm stand for integrity and character.
The change that we dream cannot come from that one man whom we now call President Noy. The change must come from everyone. He leads us by example. Let us follow his example.
The dictator did not flee in 1986. The dictator is still here. The tyrant is all of us.
The way to honor Edsa is to leave this intersection and bring Edsa to the countryside. We must move to the barangays and bring Edsa development there. We must move to the mountains and stop the rape of our forests. We must go to our seas and stop the destruction of our corals reefs. We must move to Mindanao and dialogue with the Moslems there. We who want to honor Edsa must leave this avenue and go to the poor, to the youth, to the marginalized, to the abandoned and ignored.
Here on the hallowed grounds of Edsa where bare hands stopped tanks and flowers adorned the muzzles of guns, let us renew our pledge.
Edsa gave us freedom. Let us promise Edsa our fidelity to duty.
Edsa gave us peace. Let us promise Edsa our humble service.
Edsa gave us pride and honor. Let us promise Edsa our honesty and sacrifice.
Edsa is not an event. Edsa is our mission. Edsa is not a place. Edsa is a duty. Edsa is not a holiday. Edsa is work.
Diwa ng Edsa….Salamat po…. Patawad po….Narito po kami at nangangako.