The first People Power Revolution (or EDSA Revolution) in 1986 is usually associated with one heroine: Corazon Aquino, the first Filipina to become president after the ousting of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
But as the 34th anniversary (Feb. 25) of this historical event draws near, we wanted to highlight the other women who contributed to the fight to end Martial Law—those who were in the frontlines and worked in the background. Women’s rights activists weren’t wrong when they said, “A woman’s place is in the revolution.”
The late June Keithley-Castro was a radio broadcaster during Martial Law. In 1986, she defied media censorship laws and gave blow-by-blow reports of People Power I from Feb. 22 to 25 on Radyo Bandido, a secret station set up at DZRJ in Sta. Mesa. She also called on Filipinos to join the revolution. She was named as one of the heroines of People Power I even after her death in 2013.
Sister Sarah Manapol
Sister Sarah Manapol assisted Keithley-Castro and Fr. James Reuter in running Radyo Bandido. She was mostly responsible for providing information for broadcast. Manapol is just one of many brave nuns who joined the revolution—several of them started peaceful protests along EDSA.
Sister Mary John Mananzan
Benedictine nun Sister Mary John Mananzan was one of the nuns who faced military forces during the People Power rallies. She also helped in urging people to join the protests. Today, Mananzan is still outspoken about the problems of our country. During the 30th anniversary of People Power I in 2017, she expressed her anger towards the Duterte administration, which she said is similar to Marcos’ dictatorship. “What’s happening now is worse because we are now facing an erosion of the moral fiber of the Filipinos,” said Mananzan. “What is right becomes wrong, what is wrong becomes right. The innocent get persecuted and the guilty are left free.”
Activist Karen Tañada was still in high school when she started joining anti-Marcos rallies. When the government issued an arrest warrant against her, she went into hiding for four years. According to Maja Mikula’s “Women, Activism and Social Change: Stretching Boundaries,” Tañada hid from the military in convents. When Marcos was ousted in 1986, she came out of hiding and formed groups like the Coalition for Peace and the National Peace Conference.