This is a photo of the Ortigas Center taken from the hills of Antipolo. Typically enveloped in smog, it always looks like on a clear day you can see the outlines of buildings. This is the general area where 27 years ago, the Philippines and we Filipinos experienced our own Transfiguration. This was the place where the tanks of the Philippine Marines were stopped cold in their tracks by throngs of people armed with flowers and rosaries.
It was a weekend. The drama started unfolding late Saturday afternoon, February 22. I remember the gospel reading for that Sunday was also the Transfiguration, as we attended an early Sunday mass in front of Gate 4 of Camp Aguinaldo. And in the next three days, our own Triduum, we were part of a moving and inspiring Transfiguration experience.
Factionalism and regionalism, of which we have more than our fair share, melted away as we all came together as one people. People came together as family and new-found friends, bound together by a common cause. Scarcity mentality, which we all suffer from due to the many deprivations we have experienced throughout our lives, gave way to an abundance and sharing mentality. No one ever went hungry during those days. Anabelle and I helped man the food station at Gate 4 and food just kept on coming and flowing. It was a time of reconciliations and forgiveness. We were both at the main gate of the two camps when the forces of Enrile and Ramos joined up together. We were there when Enrile confessed his fake ambush, which was used to justify martial law. The people forgave him, even applauding his confession. No one was lusting for power, wealth or fame on EDSA then. There was only love, sharing and forgiveness. Indeed, it was a foretaste of heaven on our piece of earth.
Those days of euphoria vanished sooner than we could get our act together. For a while, there were those who were saying they missed the halcyon days of the martial law regime. Today, we are still struggling to see our ‘new city’ through the haze of the pollution we have surrounded ourselves with. Just as Christ’s own Passover still had to happen after his Transfiguration and before the glory of his resurrection, so must we as a people still have to pass over from our own darkness into the light, from our selfishness and greed into lasting love and sharing, from our inequities into justification. Rome was not built in one day. So, we may take a few generations to complete the journey.
Like Peter, my heart is full of faith and trust: “It is good for us to be here.” I am starting to see the crimson of dawn over our horizon, the dim light at the end of our tunnel and the faint sweet scent of a new morning about to come upon us. I see these in the youth who are again imbued with an idealism and love of country I so dearly cherished during my own youth. I see the sacrifice and perseverance of our millions of OFWs toiling to give their families a better future. I see in in the many local leaders who are doing for their communities what the national government must bu cannot or will not provide. As always, I see it in the endearing smiles and resonant laughter of a people that has been blessed with a deep and trusting faith as of one who knows it has been chosen.
May the spirit and promise of EDSA finally rise to be fulfilled! Amen.
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.