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After 25 years, Joe Galvez's EDSA photos see the light

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In February 1986, photographer Joe Galvez was among the multitudes, recording everything from the major players Enrile and Ramos to rebel and loyalist soldiers to the prayer rallies held at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas. Pure adrenalin kept him and many others going. "Wala nang ligo-ligo noon. Walang tulog, walang kain (No one took baths, slept or ate)," he said, adding that most photographers hopped from one place to the next, only stopping to deliver their exposed film rolls to their respective news desks. This was still the heyday of film photography, before digital cameras, personal computers, the Internet, Photoshop, and even fax machines. Journalists had to travel from the field to an office to physically submit their work.
Joe Galvez, shown here in 1984 covering the "Lakbay ng Bayan" march in Calamba, Laguna which called for a boycott of the '84 Batasang Pambansa elections, was part of a generation of Filipino journalists who tested the limits of press freedom under the Marcos regime. Photo by Rey Vivo
Galvez, who at the time was a staff photographer for the political publication Mr & Ms Magazine and the non-crony Philippine Daily Inquirer, said he felt driven to take photographs of the unfolding events. "I had the responsibility to document history as it unfolded," he said. Now the photo editor of GMA News Online and the president of the professional organization Press Photographers of the Philippines, Galvez shares his photographs from the funeral of Ninoy Aquino in 1983 to the four-day People Power Revolution in 1986. While some of these photos were published in the print media at the time and in the coffee-table book People Power, many have never been seen by the public before. Galvez scanned his surviving black and white negatives from that historic period in time for the 25th EDSA anniversary. Many other negatives had been ruined by mold. As a member of the media during the height of Martial Law, Galvez said he felt restricted by government censorship and the threats of violence. However, the escape of political prisoner and ex-newsman Satur Ocampo in 1985 gave him and other members of the media renewed hope. "It gave us media men new strength to keep doing what we were doing, to not be afraid to do our work," he said. Recalling a 'miracle' During the four days at EDSA, Galvez recalled the "miracle" that happened near the intersection of EDSA and Ortigas when loyalist troops retreated and did not attack the Cory supporters who had gathered in that spot. "I was worried that a lot of innocent people would get hurt if the loyalist marines attacked," he said. "I felt relieved that they did not push through, sa pakiusap ng tao. It was a miracle." Having witnessed three EDSA uprisings as a professional, Galvez said the "true EDSA" for him was the one that happened in 1986. "I didn't like that the other EDSAs bastardized the meaning of the true EDSA. To me there's only one EDSA, the one in '86," he said. "We won our democracy and showed that a dictator can be brought down through peaceful means." - HS, GMA News Curated by Joe Galvez and Candice Montenegro Text by Candice Montenegro