The footsteps came at break of light. Agapito “Butz” Aquino reckoned that just twenty people answered his call to gather and march to Camp Aguinaldo, where they would take a stand against the Marcos Dictatorship. But in a few minutes, more footsteps arrived. The crowd of twenty grew into a hundred, and then teemed into thousands. And the march of a few Filipinos transformed into the journey of an entire nation.
From February 22 to 25, 1986, the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution would continue to astound Butz Aquino. Thousands more flocked to Camp Aguinaldo, responding to Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin’s appeal for them to protect soldiers who defected against the Marcos Dictatorship. “I ask you to support Mr. Enrile and Gen. Ramos, give them food if you like, they are our friends,” the Manila Archbishop earlier said over Radio Veritas.
Each time the Marcos Dictatorship would send its military forces to stifle People Power, it seemed that another miracle would transpire. Frustrated over decades of injustice, misrule, and the widespread fraud during the snap elections, Filipinos defiantly stood their ground against tear gas and tanks. When General Artemio Tadiar led a contingent of Marines in tanks to attack the rebel soldiers, the people formed a human barricade and held them at bay. When the gunships of the 15th Strike Wing began to circle Camp Crame with orders to attack, the civilians still would not disperse. However, instead of firing their cannons and rockets, the gunships landed on Crame, the pilots disembarked, and Colonel Antonio Sotelo announced the defection of the entire 15th Strike Wing.
People Power also astounded observers throughout the world. Members of the international media documented poignant stories of nuns sharing food with the soldiers sent to hurt them, of strangers linking arms despite apparent differences, and of the music of “Bayan Ko” — banned by the Dictatorship after being labeled an opposition song — triumphantly being sung on the streets and broadcasted over Radyo Bandido.
At daybreak of February 25, the Dictatorship — started 14 years ago through lies and the imprisonment of those who spoke against it — finally fell. The courage and solidarity shown by the Filipino people had defeated the country’s most brutal regime. United States senator Paul Laxalt told former President Marcos: “I think you should cut, and cut cleanly.” At 10:15 am on that same day, Cory Aquino arrived at the Club Filipino and was inaugurated as the President of the Philippines. At 7:30 pm, United States helicopters landed on the Pangarap golf course to pick up the Marcos family. The news was later announced over DZRH: “The Marcoses have fled the country.”
In her inaugural speech, President Cory Aquino, addressed a liberated nation, and in words that would resound through history, described the victory of People Power:
“We became exiles, we Filipinos who are at home only in freedom, when Marcos destroyed the Republic fourteen years ago. Now, by God’s grace and the power of the people, we are free again.”