EDSA 20: “In our smallness …”

Moments after the documentary aired tonight, a friend sent me a congratulatory message, which included the following line: "The nuns were a casting coup." I could only reply: "It helps that God was the casting director."

Sisters Ping Ocariza and Terry Burias belong to the Daughters of St. Paul congregation. They had never attended street demonstrations before; that day they helped stop the tanks at the intersection of Edsa and Ortigas was the first time they joined a mass action. They happened to be at that exact corner because of a chain of accidents: They had signed up for the morning shift that Sunday, February 23, instead of the afternoon. When the tanks arrived they had lost track of their fellow nuns, who had gone back to their vehicle. In the confusion, they had found themselves asked (or pulled, according to Sister Ping) by others in the crowd to move to the front, right where the tanks were. (Because they had no families to look after, they had been told.) At that crucial juncture, they had found themselves leading a rosary —- without a microphone, Sister Terry recalls. ("It was probably the most beautiful rosary I ever said," she added in Filipino.)

In contrast with the thorough preparations of the rebel soldiers (which went for nought, after the planned coup was discovered), the nuns had no idea, when they woke up on Sunday morning, that they would be called to offer their prayers and their lives, at that fateful intersection. They had no inkling that, like millions of other ordinary Filipinos, they would be called to perform on history’s stage, right before the footlights. Deeply scared and yet strangely, serenely peaceful during the encounter with the tanks, they couldn’t possibly have planned on the iconic role they would assume in the Edsa story.

In hesitant English, Sister Terry summed up what happened to them in Edsa. "In our smallness, God used us as his instrument."



Filed under Readings in Media, Readings in Politics, Readings in Religion

7 responses to “EDSA 20: “In our smallness …”

  1. i saw the sisters. very moving. they really got me thinking about all those people who were ready to “fight” the tanks. great work!

    click on my name below to see a photo taken on edsa twenty years later. very much unlike the photo of the two nuns…

  2. Ah, yes. Post-Edsa irony is as thick, or as wide, as a billboard! Many thanks for the kind words.

  3. oswaldhinckley

    the people power i saw in the past few weeks just show how the filipno people hate gloria arroyo and i would like to remind her life is short if you think you will be president for life you are wrong at this times of hard times anyone cean be bought including the people around you and i guarantee you gloria its time for you to go you have been given a chance but you are not capable of delivering that to the filipino people the people want you out you must think of the legacy of your father the future of your daughter and grandaughters i dont know how you can sleep at this times w/out thinking the plight of the people do you think after your term you will have peace,i guartantee you will not be able to live before MAY 1 2006 although my services is for hire i will do it for the filipino people i will assassinate you and the rest of your family that is my promise.

  4. Allan

    Proud to be part of it:)
    (My Magnum Opus ( sa video editing:) )

  5. aj

    to oswaldhinckley:
    don’t be a fucking pussy, do it now!

  6. aj

    to oswaldhinckley:
    why don’t you go ahead, assasinate gloria a and let’s see if filipinos will have a better life afterwards.

  7. You’re right, Allan. Excellent editing!

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