I bleed blue, red, white and yellow. The colors of the flag of my beloved country Philippines. Today marks the 116th Independence Day of the Philippines from colonization from Spain and United States of America thereafter.
Our forefathers fought by their sweat and blood. This was the war centuries ago. Today, our motherland Philippines is still fighting a battle that every Filipino should face. As long as the basic needs of every Juan is not met, the battle continues.The need for food, shelter, health and education to name a few.
I had my share of serving my country during EDSA DOS. My best friend Myra and I stayed in Edsa Shrine for a vigil and ready to March to Mendiola at day break. But our plans changed when I was instructed by our General. Secretary to stay put and pray together with Evangelicals for Justice and Righteousness. Elders are God given counselors, though with a heavy heart I obeyed.
It is when a member of the EDSA DOS Rally organizers approached our group at 0630 am that they need people to help guard the Edsa Shrine Stairs for lack of manpower. Since we were the youngest in the group, Myra and I volunteered. We took our place at the stairs near the EDSA highway. Two ROTC cadets joined us after an hour. It was quiet until we received the news that they had impeached ERAP and the Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will take oath as the President.
The people rushing to get through the EDSA Shrine stage swarmed like bees. We were instructed to issue a security pass and we should only allow dignitaries, media, performers to pass the stairs. We were confused on how are we going to do this to control the crowd. For media they told us they will be given Identification Cards so it was supposed to be easier for us. Reality bites. I can no longer count how many security stickers I had issued with my signature. The media arrived first, with their big cameras, CNN caught my attention. Then followed by a verbal argument with General Abadilla when I didn’t recognize him. He was not wearing his military uniform. (He asked me, don’t I recognize him? Duh? I only saw him on TV not in real life how will I remember that very moment. I was hungry, exhausted and under the scorching heat of the sun). I said my apologies, after him was almost a parade of military officials. I recognized General Wycoco.
After the Military Dignitaries then came the former Chief Justice Davide and his colleagues. One of the witnesses, also came. I can no longer remember his name right now.Then someone approached me, he was asking for a name of an assemblyman. I asked him to wait, I went over to the organizer’s area and there I saw politicians being interviewed. I finally spotted him and I asked him about the name of the assemblyman. He doesn’t know that person and he wasn’t on the list. So I made my way back and told the three men that I am sorry I can not let you pass. There is no person with that name, I even added can you try calling his cellphone. Not for a moment that Myra and I have thought about our safety. What would have happened if they were armed men? We had been standing for hours guarding the stairs with only two ROTC Cadet Officers as back up. Then ten more ROTC Cadets were aded to our group to control the crowd.
I saw the arrival of Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her entourage. Not in my hundred dreams did I ever dreamt to be this close, to have witnessed the Philippine history unfolding before my eyes. More officials arrived. Myra and I and the two cadet officers that are with us hold the fort of guarding the the stairs until PCGG took over and relieved us.
On January 20, 2001, At noon, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo takes her oath of office in the presence of the crowd at EDSA, becoming the 14th president of the Philippines.
I sang the Philippine National Anthem that day with full conviction…
“…ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo” I was ready to die for my country. It fired the passion in my heart that no matter what we will survive as Filipinos and we will carry through our country Philippines by the grace of our Almighty Father.
There were no photographs to show what we have done that day for our beloved motherland, but it was engraved in our hearts. That moment changed our lives. We were never the same person again.
A year after EDSA DOS, I worked as a nurse at Philippine Heart Center. My best friend Myra, was a law student at San Beda that time. She finished law school and became a lawyer.
With my best friend, Atty. Myra A. Bengan
I am thousand miles away from home right now. But I wish to return home one day. I will serve my country again in every way that I can. I long to teach the new generation of Juan’s.
I am proud to be a Filipino.
Mabuhay Ka Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang bawat mamamayang Pilipino!
The making of the Philippine Flag. Painting by Fernando Amorsolo.
I am proud to be a Filipino!