• Agerico De Villa

Never Again to Never Give Up

Updated: Mar 28



To the few who have come to EDSA the other day to protest, not the time to give up.


In the early 1980s, I was a returning student at UP in Diliman.  I had met a handful of students from the UP Student Catholic Action who wanted to have a new direction for student political life. They wanted independence from the popularly held stand espoused by Kabataang Makabayan before the Martial Law Period and its new version in the 1980s, Sandigan Para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan (SAMASA). The UPSCANs and their allies under the new student party, Tugon (Nagkaisang Tugon) had just miserably lost the student council elections for the second year.


The early 1980s was the period I had witnessed firsthand the disillusionment of Armed Forces of the Philippines young officers.  I was the head of the secretariat staff of a committee under the President’s Center for Special Studies. We gave conferences and workshops throughout all the regions. During open fora sessions that we conducted no holds barred, I saw what was going on all over the country through the eyes of the young officers. I could see that they were disillusioned. I could see that they felt helpless.


Throughout those early years, Tugon student party members had struggled. This was the same with the AFP young officers who later organized the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and the Young Officers Union (YOU).

Then came the snap elections called for by Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos himself. The NDF called for a boycott. 85% of the UP studentry went to vote. Tugon won, even taking the university student council chair.


Cory Aquino needed a skeleton force to take the cudgels of walking the grounds for her campaign. The only option she had were the UP Student Council network and its Ateneo counterpart. Cory Aquino won but Pres. Ferdinand Marcos would not have it. EDSA 1 happened.

We know the story.


One Tugon student leader became the youth representative at the Constitutional Commission convened by the Cory Government.  Members of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) later came to be elected into the House of Representatives and the Senate. (Much later, members of the YOU came to have a crucial role during EDSA 2 -- but that is another story.)


I see some of these young kids then today hold their ground as responsible members of the Commission on Human Rights and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.  Their lives have crossed during that event we call EDSA 1. The 1987 Philippine Constitution they have brought us has sustained our nation state all these years. Thanks to them who have never given up, everyone can vote for whoever he wants elected.


Photograph by Joe Galvez and colorization by Prince Javier (bridge360.ai)


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