BANGKOK — Anti-government protesters make up a sea of yellow and the other side, red. Look familiar? To Filipinos, yes: Yellow, after all, is the Pinoy color of protest, bringing back the angry-turned-euphoric days of the civilian-led revolt against the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986. Red, meanwhile, was favored by the Marcos loyalists.
The political divisions in the Thai political drama are quite different from 1986 Philippines, not least because the anti-government groups actually want to go back to a time of fewer elective positions in government and argue that democracy has not worked in this country. But several other scenes unfolding here trigger memory buttons for Filipinos, who consider themselves veterans in the culture of protest.
ON THE very day when Filipinos were to mark the 20th anniversary of the People Power uprising that ended Ferdinand Marcos’s strongman rule, Marcos-style dictatorship sprang a surprise by making a comeback: this time, in an attempt to prevent another popular revolt. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a “state of national emergency” after preempting a group of soldiers’ plan to turn their backs on her and join thousands of protesters in the streets.
TWENTY YEARS ago, at the height of the people power revolt, Imelda Marcos, then holed up in Malacañang with her anxious family and a phalanx of remaining loyal troops, contemplated the possibility of her imminent, and vertiginous, fall. At about the same time, Cory Aquino, who had returned to Manila after taking shelter in a Carmelite convent in Cebu when the uprising broke out, was insisting to worried family and friends that she should join the throng that had gathered at Edsa despite the security problems that would pose.
IT WAS the perfect formula for another uprising. Factors and forces that conspired to oust a previous president surfaced again to threaten yet another one out of power: a familiar pattern of titillating scandal and media overkill; congressional investigation and official cover-up; street protests and digital demonstrations.
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