- EDSA, 30 years after
“We are not blind to the darkness” and our eyes are wide open to the light!
(an answer to the Ateneans)
“We must start with the truth.” And so you pompously declared.
And so what is the truth? That EDSA was a ” truly a genuine popular uprising and triumph against dictatorship”? Truth? How about Enrile and Honasan and their men planned a coup against Marcos to take over the government but was discovered which Cardinal Sin and the foes of Marcos saw as a chance for his ouster thus the call for people power? How about the Armed Forces of the Philippines holding the nation together by refusing to shoot at each other regardless of political leanings? How about 2 million or so people, by sheer noise and protest charted the next 30 years for the rest of the 60 million plus Filipinos at that time? How about the snap election being won by Marcos in spite of the cheating by both sides? How about EDSA being hijacked by the displaced oligarchs who roared to power hungrier than ever? How about the yellow governance fueled by revenge yet unable up to now to finger the mastermind behind Ninoy’s murder even with the wife and the son being president? And yet, you claim “Any call for unity, most especially from the heirs of the Marcos regime which bitterly divided the country, will be empty and meaningless unless truth and justice are upheld.” Justice? You can not even render justice to your supposed icon of heroism, how can you demand such?
History must be written by non-partisan minds who lived Martial Law: before, during and after. It must come from ordinary citizens who shouldered the impact of day to day living. Those who toiled and struggled. Those who walked the troubled streets and endured the lawlessness. Those who survived the crumbling state of affairs and was driven to the brink of despair. No. History should not come from the immaculate pen of the learned who were perched on their mighty academic towers watching over the people like Olympus’ gods. No. Not those whose interests lie in regaining back their powers, their influence, their importance. No. Not from different masters of the same slaves.
If the Filipinos must condemn Martial Law’s abuses, they must in all fairness applaud its accomplishments. If Marcos must be condemned, so should the presidents who came after him and damned the “spirit of EDSA”. Today, the Filipino people are no better compared to 30 years ago. It is time to stop blaming Marcos. It is time to reclaim one country, one people. It is time for leaders and patriots to work for the Filipinos. The color yellow is not the country’s present nor should it be its future.
With the Divine Providence, the truth is, the Filipinos’ fate lie on their hands. Regardless of history. Regardless of the past.
3. A Loser’s Tale
Losers do not write history. The victors do. The accounts of losers are condemned as sour justifications and pathetic whinings if not outright cries of men who failed themselves. In the 28th anniversary of EDSA 1, the victors have spoken and again claimed glory and deliverance. Even the fence sitters and the absentees found affiliation to those who attended the revolution and claimed heroism for themselves. History notwithstanding, self glorification found itself in the highest office of the land. Yes, he was there. He threw the dictator out. He risked life and limb. His visions of EDSA 1 are what People’s Power revolt was all about! Yet he is forgiven, tolerated and even given a lot of leeway. Is it because the sickness of the mind can not be condemned but pitied?
I was in the wrong fence of history. No, correct that. I made my choice and ended up on the losing side. It was not because of blind loyalty. Nor holding on to power. I was a damn Lieutenant to matter. It was more of knowing where my heart was. Which choice I could honestly live with.
The Palace was bombed the morning of Marcos’ flight. That made us realize, pawns and insignificant characters alike that the revolt was no longer a Moro-Moro nor a skirmish among friends. That yes, the other side wanted us dead. There were questions why we were holding up waiting for another attack. To protect the President was the only answer.
The defeated were required to report to Camp Aguinaldo to sign in at the general register to signify allegiance to the new order and that we did not go on AWOL. Reporting to the same officers, wearing the same uniforms with the distinct Philippine flag seemed different. Even classmates I had known all my Cadet and Officer life, presented a new attitude and spunk. Did victory change them? Or did losing change me? They had smiles and confidence on display. I only had uncertainty and dilemma.
It was about a week after when the “loyalists” were ordered to report to the Marine Headquarters for re-training. The victorious saw that military discipline and courtesy were somewhat lost among those who were closely associated with the old regime. Thus a need for re-training. It was the second or the third day when this famous exchange happened: Loyalist Navy Captain(LNC): This is wrong. This is an insult. New AFP Marine General(NAMG): Be thankful this is what is done to you. In other countries, the defeated are shot. LNC: You did not win, sir. It’s just that we did not fight. Both officers would get to the pinnacle of their military careers, regardless.
The question of loyalty, the cohesiveness of PMA classes, trust among the AFP officer Corps and the evolving Civil Government were the impetus in PMA classes’ meetings and dialogues. My class met and each poured his heart out. Betrayal of trust, to whom loyalty must be rendered, were we still our classmates’ keeper?, charges and counter charges were voiced out to calm the frayed nerves. The rebels among us justified their actions, the loyalists asked questions. We left into the night realizing everything had changed yet still remained the same. At least, that was what I believed.
Assignments for the “loyalists” were classified from bad to worst. But with nary a complaint, they marched off like the true soldiers that must obey the comand whoever was the Chief. Resiliency was not a question of leaders. It was an affirmation of what a true Military man was. Obey first, complain later.
I was jogging around Camp late June of 1986 when a mistah with the Department of Defense joined me. It would be my last week with the Armed Forces. He said I must stay. That a lot needed to happen and must happen for the country we both loved. We said goodbyes like classmates would. Open ended. The following August, I would see my classmate’s face on the front page of the Washington Post. Just another wounded soldier in the first Coup in a series of Coups that will be launched against Cory Aquino. He was a loyalist against the putschists. A reversal of role. Truly, with everything that had changed, everything remained the same.
The road turns, detours and ends. Life’s destiny is that road. The choices each one makes at life’s intersections will change directions not result in smooth jouneys devoid of struggles and conflicts. Whatever north star one follows, the constant will be the challenges and whether one wins or loses. Twenty eight years ago, I made a choice. I lost then.
4. On EDSA 1’s 25th
These were words uttered 3 years ago by the significant and the trying to be significant. Do they still ring true? Be the judge.
1.Ramos said EDSA I was one of the three “defining moments in Philippine history,” after the 1896-1898 war for independence against Spain and the 1942 defense of Bataan.
2.Enrile said EDSA I “was one single event that has inspired similar events,” like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the uprisings in Central and Eastern Europe.
3. Honasan said he had no regrets about his role. “We were and continue to be proud of that event 25 years ago. It was a shining time when in the name of God, country and family, the Filipino people loved, dreamed, dared and acted for the future,” he said.
4. “After 25 years, was there change? Unfortunately, nothing really changed—corruption is still rampant and the result, the needs of the people were left unattended,” P-Noy
5. Estrada, who was ousted during Edsa II and succeeded by Arroyo, was more direct. He said the Philippines had only two Presidents that were women—Corazon Aquino, Mr. Aquino’s mother who succeeded the dictator Marcos, and Arroyo.
“One is the icon of democracy. The other is an icon of corruption,” he said.
6. Joe Almonte on FVR: When it came time for him to reply, he first pointed out that Marcos was his blood relation. For Ilocanos, betrayal of a blood relation was the greatest transgression: if he were to take up arms against Marcos, how could he ever face his people again? “Joe,” he said, as he let me out the door. “Whatever you’re planning, just don’t make it too bloody.”
7. “Maswerte nga kayo, retraining lang kayo. In other countries, you will be shot!”, A RAM Cavalier to a Loyalist.
“Eh, sir, hindi naman kayo nanalo, hindi lang kami lumaban.” A loyalist to a RAM Cavalier.
8. FM was quoted If my memory serves me right: I will not cry like a woman for a kingdom I can not defend like a man.