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28/02/2011: Young Fil-Ams learn about EDSA People Power at Philippine Embassy

Philippine Ambassador to the US Willy C. Gaa welcomed Filipino-American college students and young professionals to the Embassy’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of EDSA People Power. A forum was organized to reach out to the “post-EDSA generation” and instill in them the Philippine brand of people power.

Communications Director of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) Jon Melegrito, shared his experience as a leader of the Katipunan ng mga Demokratikong Pilipino and Coalition against the Marcos Dictatorship, US-based opposition groups to martial law. Mr. Melegrito wore one of his People Power shirts.

Atty. Ben Maynigo emphasized the importance of EDSA People Power and how the peaceful revolution paved the way for democracy to prevail in other countries. Atty. Maynigo was a leader in the Movement for a Free Philippines.

Andrew Flores from George Mason University asked the speakers how the crowds in EDSA swelled when the military was on the ground.

February 28, 2011, Washington, DC - In a forum held at the Embassy of the Philippines on February 24, 2011, young Filipino-Americans learned about the events that unfolded during the EDSA People Power on February 22-25, 1986.

In observance of the 25th anniversary of EDSA People Power, the Embassy invited Filipino-American college students and young professionals to a forum where they engaged key activists in Washington, DC during the struggle for democracy when the Philippines was under martial law.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Willy C. Gaa addressed the “post-EDSA generation” and described briefly how the people power took place. He emphasized that the forum was designed for young Filipino-Americans to understand the spirit of EDSA and to inspire them to take meaningful actions on behalf of their country.

The forum began with a video presentation of footages and photos of the EDSA people power and key events including the assassination of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr and the oath-taking of then President Corazon C. Aquino, with the song “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” as background.

Mr. Jon Melegrito, National Communications Director of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA), spoke about his experiences organizing the community to voice out their opposition to the government of former President Ferdinand Marcos and the dangers he faced as an anti-Marcos activist. He declared his and the Filipino community’s sense of pride when Americans cheered them on, the day people power succeeded to depose Marcos.

The second speaker, Atty. Ben Maynigo, recalled his experiences as a student activist in the Philippines and his involvement in the Movement for a Free Philippines in the United States. As a leader in the movement led by former Senator and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Raul Manglapus, Atty. Maynigo organized protest action and lobbied against US policies that supported the dictatorship.

Other Filipino community leaders who actively opposed the Marcos regime here in United States also shared their insights to the audience.

Some of the guests in the audience admitted that they do not have an idea of EDSA and were grateful for the opportunity to learn about this milestone in the country’s history.

Photos of the peaceful revolution were on display at the hallway of the Embassy and at the Carlos P. Romulo Hall where the forum was held. Pictures depicting the activities of the Filipino-American community  in protest of the Marcos administration were lent by Ms. Maurese Owens. – END