© Angela Stuart-Santiago from http://www.stuartxchange.org

Montiel writing in the Asian Journal of Social Psychology [1], says that it depends.  That is, it depends on which group you are asking.  Is it the military? or the civilian?

By using the concept of social representations of history, Montiel tried to answer the question, “Is there a single People Power in the minds of Filipino civilians and the military or are there sets of antagonistic memories of this world-famous episode?”

The results are not really shocking.

  • The research findings show two stories of People Power… To the civilians, EDSA I was a peaceful, democratic transition that succeeded because of the mass mobilization of civilians . The civilians viewed People Power as potent and good. In contrast, the military believed that the 1986 People Power was an aborted coup that succeeded because of the military’s withdrawal of support from President Marcos.  In the social representations of the military, People Power was weak and bad.

Here is a table in [1] which clearly shows the result above.

the events, military vs civilians from Montiel

  • The stories (of the civilians vs the military) are both antagonistic and hetero-referential. The two narratives about 1986 provide different plots, where the central hero is either the civilian or the military group although the narratives of the conflicting groups are about the same episode with the same story elements.
  • For the civilians, People Power was a peaceful, democratic transition that was marked by collective courage, success, strength, admiration and goodness which inspired more massive non-violent interventions after 1986. While for the military,  it was cowardly, unsuccessful, weak, not admirable and bad which legitimized military interventions in order to save democracy and inspired nine more coup attempts between 1986 and 2007.

Here is another table showing emotional representations.

Emotions, military vs civilians from Montiel

Montiels says, “Social representations of history look at how a group makes sense of its nation’s past as the group navigates through its political present.” I wonder how these will change in the future.

C.J. Montiel is from the Ateneo de Manila University.

[1] C. J.  Montiel, Social representations of democratic transition: Was the PhilippinePeople Power a non-violent power shift or a military coup?, Asian Journal of Social Psychology 13, 173–184 (2010). DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-839X.2010.01312.x