The EDSA People Power Revolution of February 22 to 25, 1986, saw the peaceful revolution that saw the peaceful ouster of the dictator, President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989). After holding on to power for a little more than 20 years (1965-1986), many people, who were tired of the cronyism, graft, corruption, and the torture and killing of critics, filled Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA for short) to protect rebels who defected to the opposition, led by then-AFP Vice Chief of Staff and PC Chief Lt. Gen Fidel Valdez Ramos (born 1928) and Minister of Defense Juan Furagganan Ponce Enrile, Sr. (born 1924), who were holed up with their men in the Philippine Army’s Camp Emilio Aguinaldo and Philippine Constabulary’s Camp Rafael Cramé on EDSA. As more and more government and military officials defected to the opposition, the US Embassy intervened by pulling the Marcos family from the Philippines, and taking them to Honolulu, Hawaii.
The EDSA Revolution grabbed the world’s imagination, and was considered a miracle as there were no casualties in the revolution, and also inspired the failed 1989 Tiananmen Revolution and Massacre in China. Along EDSA there are several monuments erected to commemorate the People Power Revolution, including the 1983 sculpture of Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Lampa Aquino Jr. (1932-1983) by Congressman Tomas Concepcion, at the People’s Park on the northeastern corner of EDSA and Senator Vicente María Epifanio Madrigal Avenue, which is the southwestern edge of Camp Aguinaldo. The 1983 assassination of Senator Aquino sparked as social unrest among the populace, who were previously silenced by the imposition of Martial Law (1972-1981) in the Philippines. Continuous protests led to the 1986 Snap Elections in which Aquino’s widow, María Corazón “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino (1933-2009), ran against Marcos, and its many controversies lead to the EDSA Revolution.
Tomas Fernandez Concepcion (1933-2012) was a noted classical sculptor and painter who was based in Rome, Italy; and once served as a Congressman in the Philippines House of Representatives in the 9th Congress. Concepcion was born to Maranao royal lineage, in Marawi City, but decided to pursue painting and theater design at the San Francisco State College, USA, and at the École des Beaux Arts in Montreal, Canada. However, when Concepcion went to the l’Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, he decided to settle in Italy. When Senator Benigno Aquino was assassinated in 1983, Concepcion created a sculpture to memorialize the martyr in his Roman home, while organizing the Italian branch of the Movement for a Free Philippines. Returning to the Philippines after the EDSA Revolution, Concepcion brought his portrait of Aquino, which he donated to the senator’s family. In 1992, he was asked to run for Congress and won, but returned to Italy after one term in government service. Concepcion has numerous public sculptures; among them are of Pope Paul VI in the Vatican, Dr. Jose Rizal at the Piazzale Manila in Rome, and John Paul II at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral in Guam, and Pope Paul VI, in the Vatican.
The People’s Park was opened in 1993 for the 7th year of commemorating the EDSA Revolution. Unveiled on that day was the People Power Monument, by Eduardo Castrillo. The sculpture showcases more than 30 figures of Filipinos of different social classes and occupations, with the first tier locking arms as the people had done, to block the government tanks during the revolution. Other figures on the second tier are flashing the “L” sign with their fingers, signifying “Laban” (Fight), which was also the name of the political party of Cory Aquino. There is a musician playing a guitar, such as some individuals had done to entertain the people during the night vigil on the street, while they huddled together in the thousands around the gates of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Cramé. The is a priest raising the image of the Virgin Mary, a nun offering food to the government soldiers to dissuade them from attacking the rebels, and a rebel soldier ready to defend the people. And finally arising from the people is a gigantic “Inang Bayan” (Motherland), breaking free from her shackles.
Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016) is a noted sculptor, who had defined the second wave of modernist sculpture in the Philippines. Castrillo graduated from the UST Fine Arts program, and first started at first as an illustrator for publishing before embarking into a career in public sculpture. In the course of time, Castrillo has represented the Philippines in many exhibitions abroad, and has also been commissioned to create monuments all over the country and overseas. He received the TOYM Award for sculpture (Ten Outstanding Young Men) in 1970, the 13 Artists Award by the CCP in 1970, Outstanding Makati Resident in 1971, Outstanding Sta. Ana Resident in 1974, Outstanding Son of Binan Award in 1980 from the Maduro Club, Outstanding Son of Laguna Award in 1980 from the Laguna Lion’s Club, Adopted Son of Cebu in 1996, the Far Eastern University Green and Gold Artist Award in 1998, and the Most Outstanding Citizen Award of Quezon City.
However, the greatest monument to the EDSA People Power Revolution can be found at the southeastern corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue, at the border of Mandaluyong, Pasig and Quezon City. The Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace: Our Lady of EDSA (EDSA Shrine for short) is the first monument to the revolution. The EDSA Shrine was completed in 1989, and was designed by National Artist for Architecture, Bobby Mañosa; but was also advised by National Artist for Architecture, Leandro Valencia Locsin (1928-1994), and Arch. William Vargas Coscolluela (born 1933). Mañosa’s concept was originally called “Church of Our Lady of Peace and Justice,” with the design inspire from the traditional thatched huts of nipa (Nypa fruticans). However, conflicts with the organizing committee on the design caused Mañosa to nearly quit the project, but later revise the design.
Arch. Francisco “Bobby” Tronqued Mañosa (1931-2019) completed his studies in architecture at the University of Santo Tomas, and also took further studies in landscaping at Tokyo University in Japan. After obtaining his architectural license, Bobby partnered with his brothers, Manuel and Jose, to form Mañosa Brothers and Associates, but he would eventually break out on his own, and form his own company. Inspired by traditional architecture, Mañosa began experimenting with natural material in his designs, and gained recognition throughout the country and abroad. His collaboration with the sculptor Junyee, lead to his creation of the Coconut Palace in 1978, which helped launch the coconut lumber industry in the Philippines. Mañosa was given the Patnubayng Sining at Kalinangan Award by the City of Manila in 1982, and the Gold Medal of Merit by the United Architects of the Philippines in 1989. In 2009, Mañosa was proclaimed as a National Artist, but was later revoked, due to the questionable process of his nomination. Although he did clearly deserve the honor, his selection was question by how his name was added without due process, along with two undeserving honorees. Despite this, Mañosa continues with his work, promoting modernist organic approach to architecture, and was finally honored a National Artist in 2019.
Cardinal Jaime Lachica Sin (1928-2005) and Bishop Gabriel Villaruz Reyes (born 1941) originally though of erecting the shrine inside Camp Cramé, but later selected the site at the corner of EDSA and Don Francisco “Paco” Barcinas Ortigas Sr. Avenue, and based in its significance to the EDSA Revolution, where thousands of people, including the members of the clergy, blocked government tanks from reaching the rebels in Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Cramé. However, the location was part of the land owned by the family of the real estate tycoon John Lim Gokongwei Jr. (born 1926), who was constructing the Robinsons Galleria Mall (opened 1990) at the very same plot of land, which he had previously purchased from the Philippine Social Security System (SSS). Cardinal Sin convinced Gokongwei and Francisco “Paquito” Vargas Ortigas Jr. (1906-2003), who own the other tracts of land in the area, to donate the property to the church.
The EDSA Shrine is marked by promenade “People’s Plaza” atop the building. The highlight of the building and plaza is the around 10 meter tall, “Our Lady of Peace” (also called Our Lady of EDSA) by Virginia Ty-Navarro (1924-1996); a sculptor and painter who studied fine arts at the University of Santo Tomas, and was married to the 1999 National Artist Jeremias“Jerry” Elizalde Navarro (1924-1999). The sculpture represents the Catholic’s belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary had interceded in the EDSA Revolution, to prevent any bloodshed and the peaceful transition of power to Corazon Aquino. Upon its completion, the only way to deliver the massive sculpture from Ty-Navarro’s studio was by military helicopter airlift, through the aid of the U.S. Military and Embassy.
Upon installation, the expressionistic styled Our Lady of Peace caused a negative reaction to many people, as they found the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary as “ugly.” Although the organizing committee requested that Ty-Navarro change the face of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but she refused. It would take years after Ty-Navarro’s death that some people decided to change the face of the Virgin Mary, to make her more “kind” looking.
The “Our Lady of Peace” stood as a beacon for all who traveled along EDSA and Ortigas avenues, until the vista was covered by the of the EDSA Shrine was covered by the construction of the Ortigas Flyover Interchange in 1992, and was further covered with the building of the Metro Rail Transit III tracks in 1999.
Also at the People’s Park are the 14 Stations of the Cross by National Artist for sculpture Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (1930-2018), who also created the altar in the main chapel of the EDSA Shrine. Abueva studied at the U.P. School of Fine Arts, under National Artist, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890-1976), who was then the director of the school. Although trained in the classical style of sculpting, Abueva broke from its mold and began experimenting on modernist styles and techniques. Soon he became known as and Godfather of Philippine Modern Sculpture. Aside from the many historical monuments that are found all over the Philippines, Abueva has also been commissioned to create sculptures around the world. In his youth, he was awarded the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award; which would herald more awards and distinctions in his life. He was proclaimed National Artist for Sculpture in 1976, making him the youngest recipient of this distinction. And just like his mentor, Abueva also served as dean of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
Also in the People’s Plaza is the “Flame of Freedom” by Manuel Casal, which is a cauldron of flame carried by three men; who represent the Philippine island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Casal also sculpted the holy water fonts “Doves of Peace” in the main chapel of the EDSA Shrine. Casal would later work with Arch. Mañosa in the 6,000-square meter Filipino Heroes Memorial in 1992, at the Corregidor island war memorial.
Entering the EDSA Shrine, there are metal lettered quote of “The Filipino is worth dying for” by Senator Ninoy Aquino, which was part of his speech at the Asia Society in 1980, New York City. Another set of metal quotes are the lyrics of “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” by Jaime Ramon “Jim” Paredes (born 1951), which was produced and release in April 1986, as a local version of “We Are the World” that was sung by 15 artists. There are also other quotes by President Fidel Ramos and Cardinal Sin, within the EDSA Shrine.
At the entry hallway of the EDSA Shrine are murals by father and son artists, Ben and Jake Custodio Alano; which are sepia symbolical paintings of EDSA Revolution. Benjamin Pagsisihan Alano (1920-1991) is a classical figurative painter, from Taguig, who was known for historical scenes and idyllic paintings of the countryside. Inspired by the painting in the collection of his father, Fausto, Alano took up his formal art education at the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts, and would later join the Philippine Arts Guild. To make ends meet, Alano taught art lessons, before opening an art gallery with Serafin Olandes Serna (1919-1979). Later on, Alano would open his own art gallery, at the Mabini Circle in Manila. His son, Jake, continues his father’s legacy, but also likes to paint Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), in which he is also a practitioner.
Inside the main chapel of the EDSA Shrine, the central crucifix is a shaped glass sculpture of the “Risen Christ” by Ramon Orlina, which correlates the resurrected Christ to the Filipino arising from the “death of the Marcos dictatorship.” Above the altar is a skylight stained glass window of the “Holy Spirit” by Eduardo Castrillo, which in turn symbolizes the divine guidance of the people during the EDSA Revolution. And as mentioned earlier, the altar table by Napoleón Abueva, which is a simple marble plateau rising from the ground, emphasizing Orlina’s Risen Christ. Orlina also sculpted the tabernacle.
Ramon Gahol Orlina (born 1944) is an architect turned sculptor, known for his glass pieces made of shaped slag. Orlina first graduated from architecture at the University of Santo Tomas, and put up his own firm years later, Ramon G. Orlina and Associates. While practicing in architecture, Orlina was already experimenting on painting, sculpture and photography; as he was joining several art exhibitions and competitions, and holding his first solo exhibition in 1975. Orlina became the president of the Society of Philippine Sculptors for 1986 to 1988, and the president of the Art Association of the Philippines from 1992 to 1999. Orlina started his interest in galls, when he used glass sheets as his “canvas” for painting, which caught the attention of the Republic Glass Corporation. Orlina was offered a scholarship by the company, but he opted to be allowed to work on the cullets of glass slag in their factory. This launched his career as a sculptor, and Orlina had garnered many awards locally and internationally; which includes the 1993 ASEAN Awards for the Arts, the 1994 Third ASEAN Achievement Awards for Visual Arts, the 1999 F Prize of the Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale in Japan, the 2000 International Biennale of Basketball in the Fine Arts in Spain, and the 2006 The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL ) Award. In 2014, Orlina returned to his family’s hometown of Taal, Batangas, and opened the Museo Orlina; which showcases his architectural designs, his collections of art and classic cars, and exhibitions of noted and upcoming artists.
There are two small side chapels in the EDSA Shrine, with the first as the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration where the Holy Eucharist is on display for the public to pray to. The monstrance that contains the Blessed Sacrament (the Eucharist) is a large bronze sun burst by Eduardo Castrillo.
The second chapel is dedicated to San Lorenzo Ruiz (1594-1637), the first Filipino saint, who was canonized in 1987. Lorenzo Ruiz started as an altar boy in the Binondo Church in Manila, but would later join the missionaries in Japan, after being accused of a crime in Manila. In Japan, Ruiz and other missionaries were arrested and tortured by tsurushi, but refused to renounce his faith until death. The life of San Lorenzo is depicted in a mural in the chapel, by Ben Alano.
In 1991, a baptistery was added to the Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel, and it was designed by Arch. Dominic Galicia, a noted architect adept in both creating modern designs, as well as conserving colonial architecture. Galicia first took his formal studies with a scholarship at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; with an additional year at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture in Rome. Galicia would continue his graduate studies at the Pratt Institute in New York, USA, where he would first work for several firms before return to the Philippines to obtain his license and practice. Galicia has designed many high profile modernist structures; however he is most noted for his renovation of noted heritage buildings as the National Museum of Natural History, St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish, and Herald Building. Galicia has held distinguished positions to represent the Philippines in international organizations, such as the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), where he served as its president from 2014 to 2017. Galicia is still active as a member of the ICOMOS’s International Scientific Committee on Twentieth- century Heritage (ISC20C). Locally, Galicia has served as an adviser for heritage preservation to the Escolta Commercial Association Inc. (ECAI) from 2011 to 2013, a three time vice-president of the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS), and a HCS in the Executive Council of the National Committee on Monuments and Sites (NCMS) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Galicia has also written many papers on heritage conservation, and has thus been honored the University of Notre Dame Distinguished Asian Pacific Alumni Award, in 2005.
On January 17 to 20, 2001, the people once more took to the streets protesting the corruption charges against President Jose “Joseph Estrada” Marcelo Ejercito (1937), in the event called EDSA Dos (EDSA 2). Although President Estrada was ousted from power, he never fled the country. The central point where the people gathered was the EDSA Shrine, as business leaders with government, military and police officials demanded President Estrada to step down.
To commemorate another peaceful transition of power, 15 members of the Angono Artist Atelier created a resin bas-relief mural of the EDSA Dos Revolution. The artists were led by Nemiranda or Nemesio“Nemi” R. Miranda Jr. (born 1949), a painter from the artists’ town of Angono. Whule taking his formal art studies at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Nemiranda would also take lessons from the Mabini artist, Miguel Galvez. Nemiranda’s style is a colorful portrayal of Philippine myths and rural life in a style he coins as “Imaginative Figutism”, and he has held over 50 solo exhibitions locally and internationally. Maintaining his base of operations in Angono, Nemiranda founded the Angono Ateliers Association in 1975 and the Rizal Artist Federation at Philippine Association of Figure Artists in 1986. Nemiranda continues to work side-by-side with local government officials to promote the arts and culture of his home town, and he has also served as the Chairman of the Angono Tourism Council.. Still in Angono, Nemiranda has put up establishments such as the Nemiranda Family Art Museum, Angono School for the Arts, the Nemiranda Art Café, and the Visual Art School Angono of the Rizal High School.
Aside the People’s Park and EDSA Shrine, there are several more monuments dedicated to the EDSA People Power Revolution, as events that led to it. In Makati, there is the 2001 “The Spirit of EDSA” by Eduardo Castrillo, at the RCBC Plaza. In Luneta Park, Manila, there is the 2010 “Pres. Corazon Aquino and Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. Shrine” also by Castrillo. And along the Roxas Boulevard Baywalk in Manila are the 2003 statues of the martyrs Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Governor Evelio Bellaflor Javier (1942-1986) by Julie Lluch (born 1946). Aside from these public artworks, there are countless paintings and sculptures of Corazon and Benigno Aquino all over the country.
Yes despite these monuments, the EDSA Shrine is not just a memorial, but a place to come together and celebrate not just the memories of the EDSA People Power Revolution and the Christian faith, but it is also a showcase of Filipino creativity, as expressed in art and architecture.