10 Most Iconic People Power Moments

Relive the legacy of the People Power Revolution with 10 momentous events that changed Filipino lives.

Twenty-five years later, the legacy of the EDSA People Power Revolution continues to live on-not just in the rough-and-tumble political history we’ve enjoyed post-Marcos, but also in the iconic moments that we still remember from those heady days as if they happened last week. SPOT.ph lists the 10 momentous events that changed Filipino lives.

 

The Comelec Walkout

The first cracks in Ferdinand Marcos’s authoritarian rule appeared on February 9, 1986, when 29 computer workers at the official COMELEC tabulation center walked out to protest the tampering of the snap election results. The computer operators retreated to Baclaran Church, where they told waiting news reporters that Cory Aquino "was ahead, according to our computers-not decisively, but ahead," until their superiors started to fiddle with the results. U.S. Senator John Kerry, one of the visiting observers from the U.S., observed, "These people are angry enough that they’ve walked out. They’re terribly scared. They’ve taken refuge in this church and that’s significant."

 

edsa comelec

Observers flew in from the United States to monitor the snap elections. Photo by Joe Galvez, GMA News Online

 

Ramos and Enrile’s Press Conference Announcing Their Defection

On February 22, Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Philippine Constabulary Chief Fidel V. Ramos announced their breakaway from Marcos to an incredulous press. Ramos declared, "The President of 1986 is not the President to whom we dedicated our service... He has put his personal family interest above the interest of the people." Enrile appealed to his fellow Cabinet ministers to "heed the will of the people expressed during the last elections."

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A 24 Oras report that shows the 1986 video of Juan Ponce Enrile announcing his defection against Marcos (Jump to 00:56).

 

Responding to the Call, the People March on EDSA

At first it was Butz Aquino who called on the people to march on EDSA, then Jaime Cardinal Sin followed suit. For the length of the EDSA revolution, thousands of unarmed Filipinos stood in the way of loyalist tanks, confronting armed Marine troops with hugs, food, and cigarettes. Colegialas garlanded soldiers with flowers; seminarians shook hands with soldiers and embraced them.

 

edsa butz aquino

Butz Aquino called on the people to march to EDSA. Photo by Nino Sinco

 

People Power = 1, Armored Personnel Carriers = 0

Hundreds of thousands crowded EDSA from February 23 onward, responding to Cardinal Sin’s call to protect the soldiers in Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. The armored personnel carriers sent by Marcos proved to be no match against the massive human barricade on EDSA. The massed crowds were kept going by a little fatalism and a lot of faith; nuns and seminarians led prayers while everybody else linked arms, waved flags, and hoped against hope that the Army would think twice about barreling over civilians. Again and again, hope held out: the amored personnel carriers turned tail at the edge of the barricades and retreated.

 

edsa people surrounding loyalist troops

People surrounding loyalist troops. Photo by Nino Sinco


edsa people vs. tanks

Cory supporters did not let armored personel carriers get to the rebel soldiers. Photo by Joe Galvez, GMA News Online

 

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Marcos Vows Use of Force

Determined to show that he was "in control of the situation," President Marcos held a press conference of his own on February 23 to encourage Enrile and Ramos to rethink their plans, and to reveal an alleged assassination attempt on Imelda. The fall guy, Army Captain Ricardo Morales, read a confession on air. Marcos threatened the use of heavy force, announcing for the rebels’ benefit that his troops "could annihilate them with heavy artillery and tanks."

 

edsa marcos

Ferdinand Marcos addresses a crowd of supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace. Photo by Kim Komenich courtesy of the Ayala Museum

 

Nuns Pray the Rosary

On the front line of the barricades, Sisters Ping Ocariza and Terry Burias led a rosary to keep their compatriots’ spirits up. Recalling the moment years later, Sister Terry said, "It was the best rosary I ever had in my entire life. We were in front of a crowd of people facing military cannons that were ready to shoot us."  Sister Terry saw a higher power behind the series of events that put them on the front lines: "In our smallness, God used us as his instrument."

 

edsa nuns praying

The nuns never stopped praying the rosary. Photo by Kim Komenich courtesy of the Ayala Museum

 

 

Fidel V. Ramos Jumps for Joy

On February 24, Enrile and Ramos received news of Marcos’ departure (later shown to be premature). The news followed the defection of the 15th Strike Wing led by Col. Antonio Sotelo. Enrile and Ramos were riding on a high. As they announced the news from Camp Crame’s flagpole area, the usually taciturn Ramos jumped in the air for joy. Ramos later repeated the jump during his Presidential campaign, and for successive EDSA anniversary celebrations.

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edsa fvr jump

Years later, FVR does his famous jump in a campaign sortie in Pangasinan. Photo by Joseph Capellan

 

"Channel 4 is back on the air to serve the people"

On February 24, in the middle of a Marcos press conference-just as Marcos was announcing that he had lost patience with the putschists and promised the end of maximum tolerance-the signal of government-owned TV station MBS 4 suddenly cut off. After more than an hour of static, a new signal came back on, featuring a slightly ragged panel composed of June Keithley, Orly Punzalan, Noel Trinidad, and Subas Herrero. The rebels had taken over Channel 4. As veteran broadcaster Punzalan announced to a rapturous public: "Channel 4 is back on the air to serve the people. Now, you will get the truth from this channel."

 

people power

A barricade protecting then government station channel 4. Photo by Nino Sinco


edsa orly mercado

Broadcaster Orly Mercado joins the crowd at EDSA. Photo by Joe Galvez, GMA News Online

 

 

Cory Swears In As President

On the morning of February 25, Cory Aquino stepped into Club Filipino in Greenhills, where she was sworn in by Senior Supreme Court Justice Claudio Teehankee before a huge crowd of supporters waving yellow banners and streamers. After her swearing-in, President Aquino appointed the very first members of her cabinet: Salvador "Doy" Laurel as her Prime Minister, Juan Ponce Enrile as her Defense Minister, and Fidel Ramos as the Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

 

 

Cory Aquino swears in before a huge crowd as the 11th President of the Philippines

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edsa cory swearing in

Cory Aquino swears in as President the Philippines (Feb. 25, 1986) while surrounded by her daughters and Aurora Aquino, the mother of her slain husband. Photo by Kim Komenich courtesy of the Ayala Museum

The Crowd Rushes to Malacañang

The vacuum left by the departing Marcos entourage was immediately filled by a triumphant crowd rushing in over Mendiola Bridge into the Malacañang compound. The Palace suffered some looting, and the Marcoses experienced the indignity of having their personal effects bared to the world: a half-eaten meal on a silver service, a freezer filled with imported steak, the President’s disposable diapers (some of them used), and yes, Imelda’s thousands upon thousands of shoes.

 

edsa malacanang

The crowd gathered over the Mendiola Bridge eager to enter the Malacañang compound. Photo by Joe Galvez, GMA News Online

 

edsa crowds rush to malacanang

Cory supporters storming Malacañang upon hearing of Marcos’s departure. Photo by Joe Galvez, GMA News Online

 

 

Photos by Joseph Capellan, Joe Galvez courtesy of GMA News Online, Kim Komenich courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California-Berkeley, copyright 2011 (more pictures of Kim Komenich can be seen at the exhibition "Revolution Revisited" at Ayala Museum, Makati City, ongoing until March 9, 2011), and courtesy of Nino Sinco.

Ferdinand Marcos addresses a crowd of supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace. His wife, Imelda Marcos, is on the verge of tears. A few hours later, they fled the Philippines (Feb. 25, 1986.)

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