1986 seems a long time ago but some memories run deep. Till then, I never thought of myself as an activist. Maybe it's the Jesuit education I was getting at uni at the time (Liberation Theology). Maybe it's the risk-taking behaviour of teens. Maybe the cause was right - People Power at EDSA.
Personal reasons varied but as wikipedia mentions, 1-3 million people were there. As part of the uni contingent, I went and stayed for hours, even at night, handing out food to the masses - pizzas, burgers, and sardines. Lots. Between midnight and dawn was the hardest - surely there were less than a million there and, peaceful or not, there was a sense that death was not unlikely or improbable; I still remember who I was with and snippets of conversations. During the day, however, fighter planes looked awesome not ominous. Later reports revealed, of course, that these planes were just a word away from firing at everyone. These memories were recently stirred by the death of Cory Aquino. She was a housewife turned activist, as a matter of consequence (her husband Ninoy was assassinated and people rallied behind her) and choice (she chose to be the beacon of hope, a head figure of the masses).
What turns a passive bystander to an activist? Everyone has his/her own reason. Ultimately, one cannot act and not be moved or changed.
This singular event in my life has highlighted a very personal reality - a very strong aversion against apathy. I am not a "tree-hugger" and probably never will be but I respect these people who make a peaceful stand (for the most part. I know there are 'altercations').
Not everything is worth fighting for but when it is, one must.