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Filipino Community in Metro DC remembers EDSA in Embassy “Talakayan”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Members of the Filipino community in the Metro DC area swapped stories and insights into the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution in a Talakayan held on 29 February 2016 at the Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy


The Talakayan was jointly organized by the Embassy and the Philippine Arts, Letters and Media Council (PALM) to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of People Power. 

“The first peaceful uprising in history, EDSA not only restored democracy and supremacy of civilian authority in the Philippines, but also laid out for the world to see the best of the Filipino – courageous, peace-loving, and compassionate,” said Philippine Ambassador to the Philippines Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. in his keynote address. 

Consistent with this year’s anniversary theme, “Pagbabago: Ipinaglaban N’yo, Itutuloy Ko,” Ambassador Cuisia made a call to action for the protection of People Power’s legacy. 

“To honor the memories of those who fought for the restoration of Philippine democracy, we are duty-bound to ensure that the lessons of the Revolution are well-learned and never forgotten,” the Ambassador stressed. 

He highlighted the need to engage the younger generations of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in order to keep the spirit of EDSA alive. 

“It is therefore my fervent hope that what we are doing today will make the Filipino and Filipino-American youths realize that EDSA is not just a traffic congested avenue in Metro Manila, but the birthplace of modern Filipino empowerment,” Ambassador Cuisia added. 

PALM President Mitzi Pickard echoed the Ambassador’s message as she shared her involvement as a young activist in those days. 

“For all of us, EDSA People Power 1986 was a pivotal part of Philippine history - a  shining period for the Philippines that brought it into worldwide cynosure. EDSA was an exciting experience we were proud to participate in - whether we were in the Philippines or in Metro DC,” Ms. Pickard stated. 

“It is more important than ever to pass on these majestic, memorable moments in Philippine/Filipino American history to our younger generations. It is incumbent upon the ‘young once’ to pass on the legacy of this peaceful transition of democracy to our ‘young ones,’" she further said. 

Richard Villa Mercado, an alumnus of the University of the Philippines Diliman, offered an eyewitness account of the events on 22-26 February 1986 and described the sense of pride felt by the Filipino community when President Corazon Aquino embarked on her first official visit to the United States in September 1986. 

“The People Power Revolution is one of the pivotal moments of my life. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a peaceful People Power Revolution in February of ’86 and also, six months later, to be a part of the historic visit of Cory here in DC and in New York,” he said.   

Jon Melegrito, a Filipino community leader and National Coordinator of the Coalition Against the Marcos Dictatorship (CAMD) from 1978 to 1986, opined that the events in February 1986 were a culmination of years of dissidents’ and activists’ fighting a “lonely battle”. He recalled those who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom and democracy. 

“Like Ninoy, they believed that the Filipino is worth dying for,” Mr. Melegrito underscored. 

Following the panel discussion was a Q&A that also tackled the role of the US Government and the Filipino community in the United States in shaping the outcome of the EDSA Revolution. 

Steven Rood, currently the Philippine Country Representative for The Asia Foundation, likewise shared his experiences as a professor in UP Baguio during People Power. 


Enriching the commemorative program were the poignant rendition of “Magkaisa” by Filipino community leaders Drs. Vic and Bambi Lorica and a viewing of the music video “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo.” Movement for Free Philippines member Maurese Oteyza Owens introduced the panelists. – Philippine Embassy, Washington D.C.

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