An epistle is a letter sent to a person or a goup often in a formal and elegant style and its aim is to teach. We are familiar with it from the letter of Paul to the different communities and In a sense John and his apocalyptic writings from exile in Patmos.Today is the 25th of Februaruy and two public figures have wrote epistles or epistolas in Greek which means letters to express their own view about Edsa 1986 and the present state of affairs:
THE EPISTLE OF ARCHBISHOP VILLEGAS ON EDSA 1986
The public letter of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He wrote to this to the lare Cardinal Sin the Archbshop of Manila and possibly the most astute Filipino politician who was also a Prince of the Roman Cathoic Church. VIllegas wrote this and made. It public for the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution of February 25, 1986.
Dear Cardinal Sin,
It is you I miss most these days.
I do not mean to disturb your peace. You already have passed from this valley of tears to the House of the Father, but please Cardinal Sin, do not forget us in our present travails as a nation. I know you can receive this message. I believe. Nothing can separate you from us in the Lord. You love this country so much. You will not let us lose our hope.
I know you can hear me, and I know you are here. As I know your love for this country, I also believe that in heaven your heart pleads to the heart of God to embrace this beautiful land. Cardinal Sin, embrace us and ask God to embrace your God loving people. Do not look at the blessings we have squandered and the heroism we have ridiculed. Do not look at the news we have faked and the people we have cheated. Do not look at our uncaring attitude about the victims of extrajudicial killings now exceeding the number of victims during martial law.
Look at us in our fears and pray for us to God to heal our land. Give is courage. Give us hope. Shake us up from our timidity.
Thirty one years after EDSA 1986, I hear our people ask: What shall we celebrate? What is there to celebrate? By the corner of EDSA and Ortigas, I want to sit and weep as I remember the four glorious days of February 1986 now dimmed. The glory now flickers in the darkness of fear and terror again. The songs of peace now drowned by the cuss words of hate that invite murder. The bloodless revolt now stained by the blood in our streets and street gutters. The statistics of unresolved murder continues to rise, and not a single one has been investigated and brought to justice.
Four days of bloodless revolution! Wow!
Now 8 months of relentless killings of the poor in the name of “change”! It is a nightmare, Your Eminence! It is a shame.
The dictator ousted by People Power is now buried among heroes. The Lady of 1,200 pairs of shoes is now Representative in Congress. History books are rewritten. Historical memory is revised. The hero is a villain. The plunderers are now heroes. Thank God, Eminence, you did not see these days we are going through.
Tears flow. Uncertainties choke us. It is hard to choose silence and take the blows. How long can we endure? It is hard to fight for the right without question or pause and be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. You remember that song Eminence? That was your favorite line I remember. Singing it again makes me smile and makes me tear.
Did you also cry quietly in the dark years of the dictatorship? Were you ever discouraged and did you also question yourself if what you were doing was right? Were you ever afraid or did you ever feel the urge to stay in your zone of comfort instead of fighting the unbeatable foe?
Cardinal Sin, I feel the same and you know that. I know many feel this way. Teach us how to cope. Teach us your courage. Teach us your humor. Teach us your faith. Teach us righteous indignation. Wake us up from our pacifism and pull us into the fire of passion and courage again.
They are looking for you, but you are not here. They are waiting for your voice, but they cannot hear. They want to see you again, but you seem so far away now. Is it wrong
Can we still celebrate EDSA People Power? I asked you that years ago and you said, “Yes we must celebrate because EDSA is people! Please celebrate even when Cory and I are gone.
For as long as there is a child willing to right the unrightable wrong;?for as long as there is a young man willing to reach the unreachable star even if his hands have grown weary; for as long as there is a war-weary soldier willing to smile at a colegiala who bravely puts a flower onto the muzzle of his gun; for as long as there is priest willing to offer the Mass for the healing of this broken and bleeding land…this land may be ruled by tyrants and killers, murderers may win in elections, plunderers may grin at the ignorant voters they have cheated, trolls may keep hurling invectives at their peace loving countrymen, commanders may prostitute the meaning of EDSA…but we will still celebrate.
For EDSA is not about the enemies of peace and democracy but the faith and bravery of a people who called upon the Lord in their distress and whose cry the Lord has heard from heaven. EDSA is our people’s cry and our God’s loving reply.
In your final years, Your Eminence, you saw how that spirit was diluted and some even wanted it reversed. But you were firm to remind me even from your sickbed that EDSA is heroic courage and will always be. What the pimps of that spirit have done cannot remove the purity of EDSA’s valor and the nobility of its lesson. The EDSA spirit is pure worth celebrating always. It is people who have raped it.
Against all odds, Cardinal Sin, we will remember. We will give thanks. We will challenge ourselves to live for God and to live for country as you did.
Rest now, Cardinal Sin. You have left us lessons to last us many lifetimes. All we must do is to keep on remembering and to keep the fire aglow. You have passed on that torch to us and we will not fail you. Promise!
Hug me in my dreams. Embrace me in my prayer. Guide me by your memory. Please hug my parents for me in the Father’s House.
THE EPISTLE OF MAYOR SARAH THE DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT DUTERTE A RIPOSTE OF THE VILLEGAS EPISTLE
“I recently read a letter to the late Cardinal Sin by Archbishop Soc Villegas and I was so distrubed by the rant that I decided take out my pen from retirement and practice once again the only talent that I have, writing.
On the evening of February 25, 1986, I was playing in dreamland when my father interrupted my slumber and told me to get dressed because we have to go downtown.
While we were hudled in the car, he told us, “Timan-i ninyo ning gabhiona ni. Ayaw ninyo kalimti.”
I have a memory of myself standing on the stairs of the San Pedro church bell tower, listening to the incessant ringing of the bells. I did not understand what was happening, but I surmised that it must be something very important because my father had to get me out of bed to watch cheering and partying adults on the streets.
Fast forward to 2017 and I would now say that the celebration of the 1986 EDSA revolution is important but only to commemorate what we did for our country on a certain period in our history.
I find it hard to understand why this bloodless revolution has become the standard definition of freedom for our country and this standard is forced down our throats by a certain group of individuals who think they are better than everyone else. These are the elite and their friends, including Archbishop Villegas.
Oh, dear Archbishop. How dare you say that my father has singlehandedly defaced the memory of the EDSA revolution.
Since 1986 and until seven months ago, I remember that our nation has been hounded by corruption, crime, territorial war of gangs and druglords, extrajudicial killings, narco politics, terrorism, protracted rebellion, abuse of power in government, political bickering and the entry of foreign mafias.
It surely did not start when President Duterte took office.
He won the Presidency precisely because you ignored what was wrong with this world. All you desired was to put into power a leader who walks and talks like you — someone who is definitely not Rodrigo Duterte.
When your friend failed as a President, I cannot remember you calling it the rape of EDSA. You just swept it under your glitzy rugs and you moved on, back to business — back to acting as if you can save us all from hell.
Your group is sadly a bunch of delusional hypocrites. While all of you were up there riding high on your horses, you failed to notice that many of us down here empathize with what Rodrigo Duterte is saying because it is the hard truth. It is truly without the air of hyprocrisy that we smell from your kind.
How dare you call us pimps of the EDSA spirit and yet it is you who cannot accept what has happened to our country since 1986.
How dare you say that we are trying to prostitute the meaning of EDSA.
My father perfectly understood what the spirit of EDSA is, otherwise, he would not have told me to never forget that night of 31 years ago. And I now believe that he understands it better than you do.
You preach about freedom as if you invented it, as if it is your gift to us. Let me tell you what freedom is. It is to live a life that is free from your selective moral standard. This is what the meaning of EDSA is.
Unfortunately for you Archbishop Villegas, this is not a biased commentary on your letter to the dead because I am not a fan of President Duterte.
But you are truly, madly, deeply worse than a hundred President Dutertes.
Dear Reader and Friends,
The two letters interesred me because of the point and counterpoint. One used the memory of hus mentor the Late Cardinal Sin to make a political point while the other was a riposte: a counter: a reaction to the latter.
About Edsa 1986 I am actually a veteran of EDSA 1986 I know for one thing the road to Edsa was not limited to those days in February 1986 and perhaps even beyond the assasination of Senator Benigno Aquino. Let us get a few things straight at least from my point of view.
First, Edsa was a collective effort of people from different sectors of society to bring in hope and change.
Second, The hope and change expected by its participants was achieved and not achieved. While true that democracy was achieved with the support of the people a lot pf things remained the same. The elite both political remained in power — Marcos politicians and former pre-martial law politicians returned and proceeded to play the game of musical chairs as to who will be in power.Corruption was and still is prevalent instead of a jackal we are now confronted by Kng Rat — a legion of rats forming a single massive rat. Economic progress largely failed to trickle down. Progress was achieved by the individual still by working overseas and working locally for multinational companies.
To put it simply the spirit of Edsa was largely betrayed.
What further complicated the situation was the growing lack of empathy of our leaders, who favored motherhood statement and spin to actual meaningful works for the good of the people.
Third, In the latter period of Cardinal Sin’s life the Filipino Roman Catholic Church began to become plagued by old and new sins. Sexual allegations, corruption, politicking and the collapse of one of its bank Monte De Piedad happend. The view was that the astute Cardinal Sin who was politically adept failed to do the same thing for his church. Perhaps this is why upon his retirement and death, Rome theough John Paul II, Benedict and Francis divided the archdiocese of Manila into four and appointed more religious and spiritually inclined Cardinals.
So here we are with the government of President Duterte and as we look back how should we remember Edsa 1986. I think it should be remembered and commemorated thr same way we commemorate and remember Jose Rizal, Imdepence Day and the other national day. It is not a religious day of obligation. One should remember it was a collective effort of people from different sectoss of society, One should also remember while through the collective efforts of different people democracy and freaadim was returned the promise and hope of progress, safety and stability was not achieved. Instead corruption and incompetency flooded the land. THis should not be forgotten by all of us.