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From Bataan..

LOOKING AT PEOPLE POWER

Thank God I am now in Bataan! The cool mountains and the rich seas and the ever green plains are so soothing to the soul. The people are simple. The barrio folks are wonderful teachers of what really matters in life—family, honest work, prayer, peace with all.

My distance from Manila has also given me a good vantage point to look at the EDSA story and its lessons from a different perspective, the eyes of an outsider.  I used to look at the story of EDSA as an insider. I used to retell the EDSA story to the youth of Metro Manila as a priest whose priesthood was shaped by people power. “I was there,” I told them. “I know the inside story.”

 Now I am a happy outsider. I am happily far away. How do I look at EDSA people power now?

 I still believe that the power of people power is prayer. I still believe that the hero of people power is God. Anyone who claims credit for people power is misled. People power is really God at work in a people who has allowed Him to rule their lives. EDSA 1986 showed us what greatness we can achieve if God will be the only master of our lives. EDSA 1986 was not an exodus from slavery to freedom. It was a transfiguration showing us how great we can be.

 I do not believe anymore in using people power to change governments. The purpose of people power is not political change. The aim of people power is change of heart--conversion. We changed Presidents but forgot to change within. People power without inner conversion will not lead us to the Promised Land but to the valley of darkness. Is this not where we are now? We blame no one but ourselves.

 The hope of our nation is not in the politician-beneficiaries of people power. The politician-beneficiaries of people power have betrayed the trust of the people. We drove away Ali Baba but the forty thieves have taken over! It is very sad. It is very disheartening. We must never allow any politician to ever tamper with people power again. Bad politics, politics without moral principles, transactional politics—these are the rewards that we got from the politicians that people power enthroned in office. It is not the fault of people power. The innocent youthful beauty of people power has been raped. People power is the victim not the culprit. We mourn for people power abused and battered by transactional politics!

 After raping people power, I now hear of a low key commemoration because people power, they say,  is in the heart!  This decision for low key celebration is the usual way pimps and rapists behave. They get what they want and leave the poor abused girl alone. I pity people power! I protest against the way the government remembers its roots. People power must indeed be in the heart 364 days of the year. On the 365th day, we must celebrate, jubilate and feast. Those in office chose to use the euphemism “people power in the heart” because the past 364 days since the last celebration was nothing but abuse and plunder of the legacy of people power.

 People power is twenty years old in the Philippines. People power is resurrecting. People power through rallies and demonstrations belong to the past. People power as a means to change governments belong to a chapter of history now. Let ambitious politicians not entertain thoughts of using people power to get into office again. Our tired, wiser and cynical countrymen will not allow that to happen anymore. People power for the empowerment of the poor through cooperatives, through micro financing, through free education, through housing projects, through nutrition programs—these are the emerging faces of people power.

 People power, raped by politicians, is ready to stand up and start anew. May God spare people power from immoral politics. People power can be betrayed, raped and abused but because people power is from God, it will live on... in another form, with another face, but remaining always the same-- for the good of God’s people and in the name of peace. People power has been blackenend by human abuse but it remains beautiful. Its beauty shines from within. It is the splendor of God who walks among His people.

 

  

+SOC B. VILLEGAS

Balanga City, Bataan

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The Roman Catholic
Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)