10 things you may not know about the EDSA Revolution

Published August 23, 2020, 7:40 AM

by MB Lifestyle

Compiled by J. C. Laquiores-Burgos

Only four out of 10 Filipinos living today were alive in 1986 when a peaceful revolution toppled a decades-long dictatorship. Here are 10 things more than half of today’s population may not know about this historic event 

1. Radio Veritas for truth

Before the dawn of the ‘bloodless’ revolution, only one radio station bravely took coverage of the events that other government-owned media did not, including Ninoy Aquino’s long-distance interview, assassination, and funeral procession. Run by the Catholic Church, Radio Veritas was determined to relay its truthful, staggering accounts of the uprising and the call for a peaceful revolution through the voice of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the archbishop of Manila. Besides, veritas in Latin means truth, to which the radio station was committed to express.

2. Yellow ribbons were everywhere!

The revolutionary yellow at that time was derived from the 1973 song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” sung by American pop music group Dawn featuring Tony Orlando and written by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown. Nearly reflecting Ninoy’s situation at that time, its lyrics talks about a prisoner of war asking his love (in his letter to her) to tie a yellow ribbon around the ‘ole oak tree’ to signify whether he is still welcome to return to her life. To his surprise, he does see a hundred yellow ribbons around the tree. But unlike the character in the song, Ninoy never saw how many yellow ribbons his supporters tied because he was assassinated even before he stepped on the airport tarmac.

3. L-shaped hand sign, not for losers

Tables were turned, for the L-shaped hand sign did not mean ‘loser’ during the Yellow Revolution. Instead, the hand gesture stands not for the random word ‘laban (fight),’ but for LABAN, the acronym of the political party formed by then senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. The hand signs were seen being gestured by Ninoy’s supporters during his funeral on Aug. 31, 1983 as the song “Bayan Ko” played.

4. Salubong in the time of darkness

This is not the salubong (union) on Easter Sunday wherein the image of the newly risen Jesus Christ appears to the image of his mourning mother Virgin Mary. Rather, it was the convergence of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos between Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. This unity involved not only the military and police forces led by Enrile and Ramos respectively, but also the civilian participants in the Yellow Revolution.

6. Bayan Ko was from the 19th century

Folk musician Freddie Aguilar may have sung and recorded “Bayan Ko (My Country)” in 1978 during the height of the revolution, but it was General Jose Alejandrino who originally composed the patriotic song as a Spanish poem “Nuestria Patria” in 1898 for the zarzuela Walang Sugat (No Wound) by Severino Reyes. It was then translated to Tagalog by Jose Corazon de Jesus tailored to the music of Constancio de Guzman in 1928 to protest against the American occupation. 

7. Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo by OPM artists as one

Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo (Gift of the Filipinos to the World)” was composed by Jim Paredes. He is one-third of the musical group APO Hiking Society who performed in a mini-concert during the revolution against dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his administration. The group was also one of the various Filipino artists who joined together to sing this patriotic song in 1986.

8. Magkaisa in the past and present

Magkaisa (Unite),” another EDSA song, was composed by Vicente “Tito” Sotto who is now a senator. It was sung by Virna Lisa Loberiza who is now based in Virginia, USA. Sarah Geronimo sang the song on Aug. 5, 2009 during the funeral of Ninoy’s wife Corazon “Cory” Aquino, the first female Filipino president. Likewise, Regine Velasquez also sang the song at the Tatak EDSA 25 concert that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the revolution on Feb. 25, 2011.

9. EDSA Shrine’s another name

Architect Francisco Mañosa designed the EDSA Shrine with preparatory support from National Artist Architect Leandro Locsin and Architect William Coscolluela. With his design, Mañosa wanted to encourage or capture the freedom and spirit of the EDSA Revolution. On Dec. 15, 1989, the shrine was formally consecrated as Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (Our Lady of EDSA).

10. People Power Monument in action

In 1993, sculptor Eduardo Castrillo created the People Power Monument to commemorate the action-packed events of the 1986 People Power Revolution. Located on the corner of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and White Plains Avenue in Quezon City, the monument consists of statues of different kinds of people linking and raising their arms, along with images of a musician and a mother with her baby. It depicts the Filipino people from different sectors of society joining the revolution against Marcos.

Wikipedia.org; dzrhnews.com.ph; cmfr-phil.org; soundtracksofteki.wordpress.com; edsashrine.org.

This article was first published in the February 2018 issue of the Philippine Panorama.