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People Power: History and "His-Story"

When Chiz (now Sen. Escudero) and I were studying in Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, for our Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law, we kidded our lawyer-classmates from around the world about our contrasting versions of Philippine history, particularly under then President Marcos.

To Chiz, whose father served Marcos as agriculture minister, it was "Marcos Pa Rin". It was not a "Marcos Dictatorship." Instead, it was the "New Society" that would make the Philippines "great again" as then trumpeted by Marcos who claimed a "covenant with the Filipino People." In fact, Marcos was his personal hero, having shook his hands as a little boy like Bill Clinton as a Boy Scout shaking the hand of then US President John F. Kennedy.

For me, it was the entire opposite. I told the story of Papa who after the proclamation of Martial Law in 1972, was among the many thousands who were immediately arrested and detained by the military. I was only five years old then, and if I remember it right, our Lola Luz, Papa's mother, rushed over from Manila to stay with us in Naga since Papa had to take a "vacation."

I also shared growing up in a home that became a sanctuary for the oppressed and abused, and those in need of legal assistance, food and even lodging. I recall coming home late one night and finding a stranger sleeping soundly in my bed. And the next morning, I would be told that the gentleman and his companions had traveled from afar to seek Papa's help.

There was also a man from out of town who came in handcuffs with his wife and child seeking advice from Papa on what to do. An abusive policeman, they said, locked up the man with handcuffs and simply abandoned him. Papa borrowed a hairpin from Mama's hair, and with it unlocked the handcuffs and set the man free.

Another thing that I could not forget was having a lively discussion with an activist in our balcony and looking forward to his next visit, only to be told later on that he had been "salvaged" in the next month or so.

So, too, there was that midnight in 1981 when I opened our door to Papa's driver who was all pale white and trembling in fear. "Inaresto ng militar ang Papa mo," he said as he asked for Mama. Papa was then  arrested for leading a mass demonstration to protest the infamous Daet Massacre of 1981 where a large group of people marching for the boycott of the sham 1981 presidential elections were sprayed with gunfire by the military.

Now, on Monday, Feb. 25, we celebrated the 27th anniversary of our 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that finally ended the Marcos Dictatorship.

May we never forget. Especially now as former Marcos people back in power write their own "his-story."