#NeverForget EDSA: A Brief Timeline of the People Power Revolution

ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

In the 31st anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, we remember the Filipinos who braved tanks and stood vigil in the streets to reclaim their democracy, toppling the two-decade rule of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The People Power Revolution in February 1986 was just the first step in rebuilding a nation's anguish into hope. But for those who were born long after this historic event, EDSA's legacy of hard-fought freedom has been taken for granted, buried underneath a false dichotomy. Here are those momentous four days, so we never forget: 

February 22, 1986

Marcos had declared himself winner of the snap presidential elections. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile announced his departure from the Marcos camp, alongside Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos. Enrilea principal enforcer of Martial Law in 1972warned Marcos over Radio Veritas: “Enough is enough, Mr. President. Your time is up. Do not miscalculate our strength now.” Meanwhile, the crowd that had gathered outside Camp Crame showed no sign of losing steam.  

February 23, 1986

On Jaime Cardinal Sin’s call, thousands of people flocked to Camp Aguinaldo and Crame to protect Ramos and Enrile, bringing in meals for the rebels. At Ortigas and EDSA, they formed a human barricade to shield the troops, joining arms in a chain and walking forward before forging onto the path of incoming tanks. A tense standstill as machine and common folk confronted each other—nuns repeating the rosary, men vomiting when they got too close. Some reached for their Bibles, saying their goodbyes. When the tanks stopped, unexpectedly, people cheered and wept with joy; where only moments ago the uprising seemed fraught with despair, the air was now seized with hope. 


February 24, 1986

Rumors swirled that President Marcos planned to strike back. But it was not enough to deter the citizens who showed up en masse, boldly filling the streets from Cubao to Ortigas Avenue, surrounding Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. Despite the resounding clamor for his resignation, Marcos appeared on live television with his family to proclaim that he had no intention of conceding. “All of us in Malacañang are dressed and prepared for any eventuality,” he says, as the camera resumed focus on his son, Bongbong, at the sidelines wearing a military fatigue uniform. At EDSA, the surreal was becoming a reality—soldiers refusing to fire when ordered, flowers being laid on top of rifles.

February 25, 1986

The Marcos family fled Malacañang Palace in exile, and Corazon C. Aquino was sworn in as President of the new government, marking a peaceful transition to democracy and the end of a dictatorship. Soldiers and civilians embraced each other, and jubilation spread through the teeming streets. EDSA I was a triumph that could not be claimed by any one party or personality. It belonged to the people of the Philippines.

SOURCE: Chronology of a Revolution by Angela Stuart Santiago

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