UCAN needs your support
You are why we do what we do - report, describe, comment, review. It is to bring to your eyes just what life is like for believers across Asia that we publish UCAN.
But as you know, the effort needs to be sustained if it is to have continuing effect.
UCAN publishes some 150 stories a week in four languages across six websites. We are grateful to benefactors in Europe and the US who support us. But those countries and the Church there are under increasing financial strain and their generosity no longer covers our costs.
We need financial help from our readers to sustain our efforts. Our reporters, editors, video producers and photographers all have families and we need to support them. They do excellent jobs, but they can't do their jobs for nothing.
Will you help us to sustain UCAN? Please click here to help.
Thanks in anticipation.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
People power is not a thing of the past
Change must come from new approaches to old social and political problems
- Edicio de la Torre, Manila
- February 28, 2012
Even after 26 years, the acronym EDSA does not need to be spelled out. Even people in other countries associate EDSA with â€śpeople powerâ€ť successfully restoring democracy in the Philippines after years of martial rule.
PCP II, however, needs to be spelled out, even for Filipino Catholics. It is the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, held 21 years ago, which declared the church as not just â€śfor the poorâ€ť but â€śof the poor,â€ť committed itself to establishing Basic Ecclesial Communities, and advocated greater lay participation and leadership.
Why do I choose to remember EDSA in connection with PCP II? I am in Davao, spending the triduum of EDSA 198 (February 23-25) in the company of the Philippine Catholic Lay Mission. They have invited me to facilitate their strategic planning, using the principles and methods of â€śappreciative inquiry.â€ť
These circumstances color my reflections about EDSA.
According to Gabriel Garcia Marquez: â€śWhat matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.â€ť Applying this to my remembrance of EDSA, â€śWhat matters is not just what happened to us, but what we choose to remember, how we choose to remember, and with whom we choose to remember.â€ť
My personal remembrance of EDSA is primarily positive, since it led to my eventual release from my second imprisonment, much earlier than I had expected. But since I was, and continue to be, an activist for social justice and popular democracy, I also look back at EDSA through the complex lens of Maryâ€™s Magnificat: â€śGod has put down the mighty from his throne, and has lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.â€ť
Many choose to remember the first line â€“ â€śthe mighty has been put down from his throne.â€ť That is an achievement of EDSA that we should continue to celebrate. True, it is the political elite who have benefited most from the removal of Marcos, but even the middle class and the poor can welcome the widening of the formal democratic space.
What about those who choose to remember â€ťlifting up the lowly?â€ť Compared with our initial high hopes, the gains for the poorer majority are much smaller and slower, especially at the national level. In places like Naga City, people power has been institutionalized through local democratic mechanisms like the Naga City Peopleâ€™s Council during the term of Mayor Jessie Robredo. The many good practices of â€śparticipatory local governanceâ€ť are islands of hope in an archipelago still sadly dominated by traditional local elites.
It is issues of social justice that feed the deeper disappointments about the promise of EDSA. Some of the very rich may have been sent away, but not empty. Most of the rich simply switched sides and continue to control the economy. The hungry still wait to be â€śfilled with good things.â€ť
For Filipino Christians who share a â€śpreferential option for the poor,â€ť the critical questions about EDSA cannot be addressed only to the elite in government and the economy. Â The Catholic Church in the Philippines made its own promises at PCP II. Like EDSA, there are some results from PCP II that we can celebrate. But there are also many reasons to be disappointed.
In the spirit of appreciative inquiry, we continue to live in hope, in ourselves and in our country. People power has become an integral part of the Philippine political tradition, because of the form it took and the result it achieved at EDSA in 1986.
The challenge to those of us who choose to remember it together is not to keep looking back and wonder how we can resurrect that specific form of people power to achieve similar results.
Let us focus our energies on detecting the diverse and different forms of people power, inside and outside institutions, and help bring about a new synergy that will pursue the promises of EDSA.
Edicio "Ed" de la TorreÂ is vice-president of the Association for World Education, and chairperson of the boards of Empowering Civic Participation in Governance, Institute for Popular Democracy and Asia-Pacific Communication Forum. HeÂ was an activist priest in the 1970s who fought for farmers' rights and land reform. He joined the underground movement in 1972 and was captured twice and spent over nine years in various prisons