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“It’s disheartening to think that our sacrifices then did not bear much fruit,” said Vilma Masinda, one of many nuns who joined the anti-Marcos crowd in 1986. “Change is very slow, but we have to be patient.”

The newfound concept of “people power” emerged as a political weapon for social grievances. Fifteen years after ousting Marcos, massive numbers of Filipinos returned to the street to topple once-popular leader Joseph Estrada over purported corruption. His vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, took over and later was linked to other corruption scandals.

After her congressional allies quashed opposition attempts to impeach her, there were calls for another revolt. But amid public exasperation, huge crowds failed to turn up. Loyal generals crushed at least four failed power grabs against Mrs. Arroyo during her tumultuous nine years in power.

Corazon Aquino’s death from cancer in 2009 sparked a mass outpouring of sympathy that turned into a groundswell of support for her son, Benigno. He hesitantly accepted an opposition draft and won last May’s presidential election by a landslide on a promise to eradicate corruption and poverty.

The lessons for the new Philippines president and Arab masses clamoring for reform is to ensure that revolutions bring real change.