35 Years after People Power

Analysis and Opinion

By Karl Garcia

February 22, 2021, marks the 35th anniversary of the People Power Revolution. During those four days of February 1986, millions of Filipinos, along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Metro Manila, and cities all over the country, stood up to then-president Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Edsa was the culmination of a series of public protests, often dispersed if at all given leave. It was a nation wresting itself from a dictator. The four days of EDSA People Power in itself was an exemplar of the evolution of the Philippine protest and with protest, there are protest songs.

Some reflections can be considered as fond memories and can also be described as wistful. Some are regretful to the point of sour-graping and being harsh. We will reflect both on the fond and the harsh.

We have a president who gives supportive speeches on every Anniversary of People Power during his watch. Maybe we should thank his speechwriters but on other days he would lambast human rights.

Then we have a Boxer/Senator who said that we have too much democracy. Revisionists attempt to downplay Martial Law and even red-tagging the late Benigno Aquino. Some progressives say that the Edsa Revolution was a revolution by the hard-right which only led to neoliberal policies. Some say the Left was left behind during EDSA.

35 years and still no true land reform. Some cheered and some jeered the Catholic Church. It had been an inspiration here and around the world, from the Arab Spring, to fight for Democracy in Hong Kong and Thailand some call the Asian Fall(Autumn). The world is doing its own People Power.



I was just fourteen years old during the EDSA revolution. All I remember was almost two months of vacation from a shortened fourth quarter of school. But as a military brat, aside from our home away from the camp, we also had a life in the camps. I grew up in Camp Aguinaldo and I was a seventies kid with a Military parent. My concept of Martial law and Marcos was different. I can only speak for myself, but military brats like me were made to believe that Martial Law was for the best. So I have to google those who bothered to chronicle what they remembered about Martial Law as a minor.

When we talk about Martial Law we must also talk about the First Quarter Storm. This is where six died and hundreds were injured from the 50,000 protesters during Marcos’ State of the Nation Address in 1970. This was machine guns and the dreaded pillbox which eventually took the life of Francis Sontillano who died aged 15. The dissension during ML was chronicled by Susan Quimpo, who together with her brother Nathan co-authored Subversive Lives. For Prof. Xiao Chua, Filipinos were treated as kids during Martial Law:

  • “The very first broadcasts that came through government station Channel 9 after the crackdown was an episode of the American cartoon series called The Wacky Races. An appropriate parallelism—Marcos now treats the Filipino people as his children. We cannot anymore think for ourselves. One man will tell us what to think, one man will tell us what is right for us. One man will think for 48 Million Filipinos.”

Irineo, who was seven years old when that happened, says he vaguely remembers lots of cartoons on TV, followed by an angry-looking Marcos.



Angela Stuart Santiago had a Day by Day Account of the momentous event but, first, allow me to share her account of the years before EDSA. Especially noteworthy is what happened from the time Ninoy Aquino was assasinated on August 21, 1983, the trial afterwards, the snap election and the widespread anger at what was perceived as electoral cheating. Irineo says that he recalls the satirical album “The Worst of Apo Hiking Society”, a recording of a live concert that openly mocked Marcos. He also recalls a law against rumor-mongering passed in the late stages of the Marcos era. Rumors were rampant, as nobody trusted the press.

On Saturday, February 22, 1986 a plan by parts of the military to overthrow Marcos was discovered. There were tensions in Manila, demonstrations in Cebu, and Enrile went to Camp Aguinaldo and joined forces with General Ramos who was in Camp Crame. At 6:30 p.m., they held a press conference. By 9 pm. Cardinal Sin called the people via Radio Veritas to help.

By Sunday ”.. 12:00 Midnight – Cardinal Sin’s plea that the people help Ramos and Enrile was taken literally. Thousands of people began massing outside the rebel camps and supplying food for the soldiers.”  By 11 a.m., Cory held a press conference in Magellan Hotel, Cebu City, asking the people to support Ramos and Enrile. By 4 p.m., there was a standoff at Ortigas between General Tadiar, sent with tanks, and Butz Aquino, who said from the top of a tank:

  • “General, you say higher authorities gave you the order to disperse us. Well, the higher authority-the Chief of Staff we recognize-is Gen. Ramos, and the Commander-in-Chief we recognize is Cory Aquino, and we know they didn’t order you to disperse us. Besides, we are fighting for our freedoms, and if it’s necessary to die, we’re prepared to die..”

This was the turning point, as finally Tadiar (who was my dad’s classmate at PMA) did not order shooting at the people.

  • “..Out of this confrontation, ordinary street Filipinos, Tondo people and faceless, joined with the middle class, and both discovered a kind of spontaneous collective will that they had never exerted before, and a common bond they had never nurtured. It electrified them. Tears streamed down faces. Some began to sing. “People Power” was born.
  • By Sunday afternoon, Manila was delirious. The boulevard between the army camps was a human sea, the crowd surging and receding like a tide as government forces arrived and retreated and returned. Demonstrators carried banners demanding Marcos’s resignation. Rebel soldiers, their flag patches inverted, mingled with the throng..”

Leah Navarro chronicles:

  • “It must’ve been mid-afternoon when we heard the choppers while we were hanging around the corner of EDSA and Ortigas. They came from the south, and on the ground I think there were military trucks that arrived as well as some tanks and APCs. Buses were used to “strengthen” our barricades. Instead of running from the Hueys and tanks, we all moved toward them, some of us shouting to be calm, but with trembling voices. The courage of the folks around me was enough to give me some. I remember having to suppress my sense of self-preservation as I walked toward what my brain screamed was danger. We watched as the choppers landed (around where Robinson’s Galleria is now) and the soldiers started jumping out. They were joined by others from the trucks, forming a defensive circle around the Hueys. We took a silent cue and surrounded them. My friends and I found ourselves looking at these battle-hardened souls (we learned later they were Marines flown in from Mindanao), and my heart went our to the soldier in front of me. He looked so very tired, His uniform had safety pins for buttons, and he was wearing slippers. We tried to talk to them, they muttered one word answers. Then, it began. Someone had flowers and she started to give them to the soldiers. More flowers appeared as if out of nowhere, and as we received them we offered them to the soldiers. Some of us put daisies in rifle barrels if their owners refused to take them. All the while, our hearts beat wildly. The nuns and priests kept up the rosary, it helped calm us. Then a tank revved its engine and tried to move forward, but without hesitating, we held our ground, many sitting on the ground, right in the tank’s path. We pressed closer, finally all the tanks were engulfed by people. I noticed a lot of the men were crying, the women just hardened their hearts and stood pat.”

Irineo says he also remembers the buses used as barriers against tanks.

Monday had thousands of people sleeping on EDSA as a human shield to protect the military rebels. In the afternoon soldiers in helicopters sent to attack Crame switched sides the moment they landed. Irineo says he remembers seeing this moment on German evening news, and also the siege of Channel 4 on Bohol Avenue, Quezon City.

Leah Navarro remembers:

  • “..As the day wore on, news filtered back to us that MBS4 had been taken over by the rebels and barricades of people were beginning to form. I personally felt elated by the news. My father lost his Program Director job with ABS-CBN the day Marcos declared Martial Law. We didn’t know if the Lopezes would ever get the station back, but just in case, my Dad helped the faithful engineers and staff hide the OB vans at his house on Times Street not far from Cory Aquino’s. My stepmother was livid. The vans’ tires made deep ruts in the little garden, there wasn’t enough driveway..”

In the night there was a rumor that Marcos had fled, quickly revised by Radyo Bandido.

Tuesday midnight started with firecrackers as many still thought Marcos had left already. Marcos tried to talk to Washington early morning, and at 5 a.m. there was this conversation:

  • ..Marcos asked if Reagan was telling him to step down. “President Reagan,” replied Laxalt, “is not in a position to make that kind of demand.” After a pause Marcos asked, “Senator, what do you think? Should I step down?” Laxalt’s answer was forthright: “Mr. President, I’m not bound by diplomatic restraint. I’m only talking for myself. I think you should cut, and cut cleanly. The time has come.” At that, the phone seemed to go dead. Laxalt was alarmed by the long silence. “Mr. President, are you still there?” he finally exclaimed. “Yes, I’m still here,” said Marcos in a faint low voice. “I am so very very disappointed.”..

More things happened that day: the battle for the Channel 9 tower on Mother Ignacia street, now dwarfed by the ABS-CBN headquarters, tension at Cory’s home on Times Street, Cory’s swearing in as President by Justice Claudio Teehankee at Club Filipino, with Teddy Boy Locsin rushing to write her speech as she had not prepared any. Chief Justice Ramon Aquino swore in Marcos at Malacanan. All of this had happened before noon.

The afternoon saw clashes between loyalist soldiers and people at Timog/Morato in Quezon City as well as clashes between loyalists and Cory supporters at the foot of Nagtahan bridge, Manila, not too far from Malacanan palace. By the evening, US Ambassador Bosworth had brokered a deal between Marcos, Ramos and Cory Aquino to evacuate Marcos, which happened by helicopter. BAYAN marched all the way to Mendiola at past 8 p.m., where according to director Lino Brocka this happened when they faced soldiers: “Suddenly someone from the BAYAN side crossed the bridge towards the soldiers, carrying food. You know what the soldiers did? They put down their guns-and clapped. Then they ate and ate. God! I said,they’re human too! They’re so hungry! Well, but after eating, they took up their guns again.”

By 9 p.m. Marcos and his entourage left on US helicopters and by 9:52 p.m. DZRH was the first to announce that Marcos had left. Aside from a carnival atmosphere, there was also a release of anger and looters and others entered Malacanan Palace. At some point, General Ramos’ men secured the palace and stopped the looting. The new era had begun.

The 1987 Constitution, numerous coup attempts by military forces, and Enrile’s dismissal by Cory Aquino were the hard times that were yet to come after the euphoria. Irineo told me about the euphoria that still persisted around August 1986, when he visited the Philippines for almost two months, and of the Cory state visit to Germany in July 1989, and how only months later a similar wave of mostly peaceful street protests toppled Communist regimes, most memorably the Fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 – and only two years later the fall of the Soviet Union.

Tiananmen and the civil war in ex-Yugoslavia showed that wasn’t really the “end of history”.


Views soon after

Cory Aquino said: Wherever I went in the campaign, slum area or impoverished village. They came to me with one cry, DEMOCRACY. Not food although they clearly needed it but DEMOCRACY. Not work, although they surely wanted it but DEMOCRACY..”



Father Joaquin Bernas asserts that Edsa was truly meant to be: “There was never a moment, starting on Sept. 21, 1972, that the nation was not moving toward Edsa. The underground struggle, the bloody encounters, the groans of torture victims, the pamphleteering, the rallies, both political and religious, the silent storming of heaven by contemplative nuns, the whir of fax machines, the electoral struggle under the most adverse circumstances, and, yes, even the ‘collaboration’ with the enemy-each in its own way contributed to the assurance of rebirth. In the end, Divine Providence, which the Filipino people had first formally invoked in its 1935 Constitution, put the pieces together and let them explode into the celebration that was Edsa.”

Manolo Quezon says that EDSA was “the apotheosis of the middle class” who had “decided that the things the Left despised but which they valued — order, decency, the safety of property — were in grave peril.” He also told those younger than him in 2004 that “the disappointments since Edsa are as much the fault of a public willing to leave things in the hands of the politicians as it was the result of military meddling. But it is the absence of an all-pervasive feeling of fear, that we should appreciate the most..”.

Joma Sison of course claimed that the armed struggle of the CPP was “the most decisive factor that brought about the fall of Marcos” and that “For a while, the Filipino people were euphoric about having liberated themselves from tyranny. They expected national independence and democracy to flourish.” He seems to mean his definition of those terms.

Joanne Ray Ramirez asked in 2017, Does EDSA still matter?

  • Of course it does. It was an exercise in freedom and democracy that was a tribute to humanity and its basic desire to live free, unchained from the shackles of totalitarian rule. EDSA showed political science experts around the world that a peaceful revolution is doable. EDSA married the words “people” and “power.”..

..It was, as Paolo, a 31-year-old editor, pointed out, a revolution of not just one family but of at least a million people.


Views today

Too Much Democracy is what Pacquiao said, that the President had to “discipline” Filipinos, just as a parent disciplines his or her children. To me, Pacquiao is dead wrong, his view is like Xiao Chua said that Marcos treated Filipinos as children.

Walden Bello in Liberal Democracy, Party-list System and Neoliberalism echoes Micha’s views on social justice:

  • ..After the disastrous kleptocracy that was the Marcos dictatorship, the 1987 Constitution promised “a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth”.. ..the EDSA system failed to translate this promise into reality..

The Ibon foundation sees 4 Marcos era problems that live on: cronyism and corruption, labor export policy, onerous debt and plunder of natural resources.

In my opinion, there should be a balance among the isms from Socialism to Neoliberalism. After all, another ism, called the prism, has many colors. Democracy does not mean irresponsible freedom. It is still a matter of inspirational leadership. Without that everything would just be out of fear and blind obedience. With inspirational leadership, there would always be trust.

According to Agnes Quisumbing of the Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies, land reform failed as “..the landless, spearheaded by the militant peasant organization, the Kilusang Mabubukid ng Pilipinas have accused the mellowed down version of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as no better than the failed Marcos-initiated program. Landowners, on the other hand, have issued an impassioned threat of civil chaos should the land reform order be signed and implemented..”

The Middle Class had a heavy role in both EDSA and EDSA Dos, especially civic society “..organized into a large number of relatively small voluntary groups.. ..Because of their relatively small population size and lack of homogeneity and class solidarity beyond personalistic relationships, whenever they took political action, the middle classes had to join forces with other classes either within an organization or at a coalition level.”

The middle class also benefited a lot over the past decades, as Kowboy Santos observed while analyzing the 30-year-old song Alabang Girls by Andrew E which , that things that used to be only for the upper class are now normal for the middle class, as an excerpt of the lyrics shows:

     Kung, kung, kung siya’y pagmamasdan, siya’y cool na cool

     Mas cooler pa sa water ng kanyang swimming pool

     At ‘pag siya’y kausap na, malakas ang dating

     Fav’rite hamburger, Burger King or nothing

     Ang gusto niya ay Kellogs, ayaw niya cheese curls

     ‘Pag siya ay nag-party, suot na ang kanyang pearls…

The middle class also rose in number due to OFW remittances (which directly benefited their immediate families and indirectly made a huge impact on our economy) and, aside from that, there are the BPOs and the export earnings of the semiconductor industry.

Irineo said that well-being for all might possibly have not been too far off with somewhat socialized medicine due to PhilHealth and 4Ps trying to overcome the poverty trap, though the immediate pressures of crime and traffic by 2016 led to the perception that PNoy had failed.

Manolo Quezon also mentioned a difference in values between old and new middle classes, though Irineo in his article 20 Years Ago which tackles EDSA Dos (and Tres) writes that it would be too simple to see these values as the main rift between “Dilawan” and “DDS”. Just like it would be too simple to see Rizal as someone who would be called “Dilawan” today and Bonifacio as someone who would be red-tagged.


Visions of Nation

The Presidency and the Crisis of Modernity – Manuel L. Quezon III said this back in 2015:

  • Everything that Marcos claimed was the problem: a conceited yet essentially incompetent ruling class, a slavish society devoid of a sense of intrinsic self-worth, a society that required a firm hand to rule it –all continue to be said of ourselves, by ourselves, all the time. Whatever the infinite variation, the central theme continues to be that of the need for a New Society: it was precisely that, but without the Great Dictator, that even Edsa tried to accomplish..”

He points out his grandfather’s statements on the two basic political expectations of Filipinos:

  1. ..All they want is to have the present problem solved, and solved with the least pain..”
  2. “..the fear is that the Head of State may either exceed his powers, or abuse them by improprieties. To keep order is his main purpose..”

Finally, he quotes Randy David on modernity that may come to the Philippines at some point:

  • “In the near future, inherited status will no longer be an asset. Occupations and public office will become more accessible to those born without privilege. Politics will be more accountable to the general public, to the citizens, rather than to a few dominant centers of influence. Kinship will decline in importance as a passport to economic or political mobility. With universal education, which has so far eluded us, citizens should be in a better position to distinguish.. ..Our political institutions, modern as they are, came as a legacy of American colonialism. They were grafted onto a feudal social order and culture defined by the values of a patron-client system. The disconnect became apparent to us only after the generation that had been schooled in colonial America’s modern ways had left the stage. We are just starting to grasp the logic of these institutions. Our hope is that the next generation can make them a reality.”

Irineo said in his article “The National Village” that barangay mentality runs today’s Philippines. He has also said that in the complex society that the Philippines has become, the idea of unity like in a small group or village is hardly feasible anymore, as larger groups tend to disagree.

A recent DepEd video used the rift between Aguinaldo and Bonifacio to teach that disobeying the national leader is bad for “national unity”. Joe correctly calls that kind of unity “The Borg”.

Xiao Chua analyses the etymology of Democracy, saying that it means people’s (DEMOS) rule (KRATIA) but that European republicanism and its institutions as introduced in the Philippines became mainly run by the elites, and that Bonifacio’s idea of people’s rule included well-being and mutual goodwill but was destroyed when Bonifacio was killed by Aguinaldo’s men. Some may interpret the ideas he brings forth as a criticism of Western liberal democracy as such – especially in the era of “illiberal democracy” as defined by some populists today – but it seems more like a criticism of the self-dealing kind of elite democracy introduced by Aguinaldo.



The first kind of people power was actually in Portugal on April 25, 1974, the Carnation Revolution where a reformist group within the military rose up and was supported by crowds, but that event was covered only by photographers, not by TV, and a movie that was made about much later had Javier Bardem in it, among others. Filipino people power hit the mass media and was a landmark global event, followed by similar uprisings in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Building a nation is a long process and it takes time. Some sectors like the left lament the persistence of Neoliberal policies and some Marcos era ills that remain. For Economic Development, this author tried to figure out what could be best from my MMT series 1 and 2, Philippine Agriculture and Philippine Industrialization.

We may have People Power fatigue and if we keep ousting a leader it only leads to chaos and anarchy so why not Institutionalize People Power? Some say a Citizen’s assembly is a joke, but with patience, we could make anything work, and then we can be the best we can be.

According to Jack Lazo on Twitter There’s an uncanny parallel between EDSA and the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years because they refused to believe what was promised to them. In the same way, one wonders if Filipinos truly grabbed the bull by the horns and claimed the bright future ahead.”

So is it just five more years to the promised land if we play our cards right including this coming 2022?


87 Responses to “35 Years after People Power”
  1. Karl Garcia says:

    Randy David’s take in EDSA after 35 years.

    And an articke by Crispin Maslog commemorating the event.


    • https://malaya.com.ph/index.php/news_opinion/thirty-five-years-and-counting/ – excerpt:

      ..Thirty five years after EDSA, it seems that Philippine society has been running in place, if not in fact backsliding. Politics remains no different today from what it was in the 1980s: family affairs from the local level all the way to the national level, with politicians donning party labels for convenience rather than principles. The economy still benefits a small minority of the population, made worse by the economic hardships brought by the pandemic. The pandemic threatens mostly the gains the local economy has savored from a substantial Filipino work force abroad that remits over $30 billion annually; with much of the world contracting, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have no choice but to be repatriated, back home where opportunities are scarce.
      But the greatest backslide may be with the ordinary Filipino voter, they who continue to choose to vote every way but wisely. I cannot forget that video clip of a Filipina who was quizzed about why she was going to support a candidate who had been charged with plunder: “he’s handsome,” she says in Filipino. Wasn’t she bothered by the allegations of plunder amounting to over one hundred million pesos, she was asked. “No, I don’t follow those nor believe those,” she replied. But her succeeding comment was what floored me. “He is already rich, so he wouldn’t steal,” she said, effectively declaring to their world her belief that only among the poor can you find thieves..

    • Randy David (excerpt):

      ..The prelude, the precipitating events to the Feb. 22-25 Edsa revolution, came in the form of the Feb. 7 snap election that Marcos abruptly called as a way of settling doubts on the continued legitimacy of his presidency. This was his arrogant reply to the daily protests that were mounted against him.

      Convinced that this was going to be no more than a “demonstration election” that Marcos would tightly control, many of us urged a boycott as the only principled response possible. But, in calling for a boycott, I think we did not foresee the complex dynamics that this exercise could potentially unleash.

      We did not know what the people would actually do to make their voices heard and to protect the ballot, or how they would react to brazen attempts to distort their will through electoral fraud. In retrospect, I now believe that those memorable four days at Edsa would not have been possible without the vigorous commitment in popular participation that Cory’s presidential campaign was able to elicit among freedom-loving Filipinos.

      True to form, Marcos merely ignored the widespread public outcry against his regime’s crude attempts to manipulate the count and show that he had won the snap election. The Comelec proclaimed him the winner with 53.62 percent of the votes, as against Corazon Aquino’s 46.10 percent. In the Comelec tally, Marcos was shown as garnering 1.5 million more votes than Cory.

      The election watchdog Namfrel, which had run its own unofficial count, showed Cory leading by more than half a million votes over Marcos. But, cutting short the brewing dispute over which count to believe, the Batasan went on to officially proclaim Marcos the victor in the election. The ailing dictator hurriedly took his oath as president in the morning of Feb. 25th. By then, events had taken a totally different turn. Cory was sworn in as president on the same day, not by virtue of the elections but by the force of people power..

  2. NHerrera says:

    Nice recall of the relatively recent event in our history, from someone who was only14 when that happened. Thanks, karl.

  3. madlanglupa says:

    If we are going to fix our societal problems, first it’s got to be dynastic politicians and bureaucrats at the local level, perpetuating corruption as they keep a stranglehold on the municipal and even the provincial economy, and dictate who should be in power (including who becomes president), who becomes favored to get first dibs, as they bend the rules and thus undermining what positive values we have as a people.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      But the dynasts in Congress will only pretend to put a stop to it.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Exactly. That leaves us no choice but far more drastic methods.

          • sonny says:


            Answer: vendetta.

            • Karl Garcia says:

              Endless vicious cycle.

              • sonny says:

                Our mountain tribespeople learned the lesson of self-decimation early on. They stopped head-hunting on their own. There’s the truism: if one decides to embark on vendetta then one should dig two graves – one for his victim and one for himself.

              • The Brazilian movie “Behind the Sun” says it this way “an eye for an eye, until everyone is blind”. It plays in the harsh Brazilian north, also known from the novels of Jorge Amado as a violent place. The story itself is based on a novel by an Albanian author. Albanians (and other Balkan peoples as well I was told) have old traditions of vendetta known as Gjakmarrja. It still happens in the mountains of Albania that teenage boys grow up without leaving the house as that is the only place customarily spared by Gjakmarrja tradition. The wars in ex-Yugoslavia were also a form of vendetta at an ethnic level, with old scores dating back to the Second World War reopened at the level of peoples.


                I have mentioned the Kosovar anger against the Serbs coming out even in football matches.

                The most famous one with Swiss players of Kosovar refugee origin.

              • From the Book “Rido, Clan Feuding and Conflict in Mindanao” page 140:

                Some cases among the Lumad


                This incident happened in the Higaonon settlement in Minalwang. According to accounts, a conflict ensued between the Supreme Datu Pinaluay and another Datu in another community. This led to the conduct of pangayaw between the two communities. Datu Pinaluay was a peaceful man. He initiated the settling of the dispute between the two communities. After the exchange of gahum (goods), the tampuda hu balagon was performed to seal the peace deal. The customary law dictates that when both parties face each other in a tampuda, the vine must be cut at both ends. The one who fails to cut his end of the vine is deemed to be maintaining his grudge and may be killed by the opposing party without interference from relatives.

                During the tampuda, Datu Pinaluay was able to cut his end of the vine while the other party failed to do likewise. Seeing the uncut vine, Datu Pinaluay raised his sundang (bolo) and cut the vine in half. According to accounts, Datu Pinaluay refused to follow the customary law so as to end the conflict. The incident is seen by many as the first move among the Higaonon to end the practice of punishing an offender by death. The act of Datu Pinaluay changed an ancient law. For the past 30 years, the tribe has not put to death anyone and has not experienced any major conflict among its people.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Thanks for the words of wisdom, Uncle Sonny.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                To Decimate

                Dibay dibay ten
                Dibay dibay 4

                To pulverize

                Dibay dibay infinity

          • madlanglupa says:

            Next year’s elections — it’s either a new beginning for us or a return to the dark age. We just have one shot at ending all this insanity by ballot, or we will be forced to take up fighting a new front.

  4. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    Knowing what I know, any attempt to paint EDSA One as a political event, even a revolutionary upheaval, will fail. The Left tried to connect it to FQS 1970. It can’t be. There were no rocks thrown, no Marxist jargon at all in February 1986 between the camps. It wasn’t a power grab by the military either, as law enforcers under General Lim’s western police district broke the final charge of Colonel Gringo Honasan, which would have been the death blow on Cory’s democratic forces. No. Nothing works in the Philippines, nothing changes mindset, nothing pulls warring political tribes from the brink but God Himself. It was a divine pingot, as a mother or teacher twists the ear lobes of recalcitrant children. The country is impervious to any change, as a gabi leaf resists water. It’s no wonder that President (ugh!) Duterte’s first acts were to distance himself and the country from God our redeemer by calling Him stupid and cursing the Pope. Once he was confident that the citizenry will not rise to this unprecedented blasphemy, it was like linking SLEX and NLEX by a Skyway extension over crowded metropolitan streets, a life-changing event. From then on, he had us by the balls. So, to stop the blitzkrieg into Moscow, some natural event like the Russian winter is awaited. Prayers are our only salivation now, aside from sniping by patriots in socmed to stop further advances of bongoloidic nonsense. EDSA One was a natural event, like a mother stepping in to squelch a pillow fight turned bloody. Duterte will fall, I am sure, just as I am sure that there is a God. Just wait for our Russian winter as we fervently pray.

    • Micha says:

      The SLEX and NLEX inter-connect is a crown jewel attached to the head of San Miguel’s big boss. They will be feeding on that 18 kilometer trough for quite some time.

    • Karl Garcia says:

      Many thanks kuya Wil!

    • I have described Dutz as a Pharaoh or God-King in the past, and such whether Pharaohs keeping slaves or Roman Emperors of old burning Christians would never tolerate a God above them, nor the rules that even they must follow.

      Thus as Chemrock once noted no Repentance of King David for Dutz, ever. And I add that the civic 10 Commandments, the Constitution, are also nada to Dutz.

      • kasambahay says:

        pharaohs po, didnt have it easy. they have to prove fitness to rule during the festival of seb. they also have to fend off time and again hostile tribes like the hittites so keen in taking over the kingdom of egypt.

        our people power can be said to be like the seb festival, dictator was put on check and given the boot, unfit to rule kasi.

  5. Micha says:

    The ensuing Cory government was being pulled from both the left and the right – eventually succumbing to rightist agenda after a series of coup attempts by Gringo and his RAMboys.

    With their godfather in Malacanang by 1992, Gringo, Billy Bibit, Rex Robles and others were all breathing comfortably as El Tabako executed a neoliberal massacre of progressive policies – all blessed by men in dark suits from that embassy along Manila Bay.

    The result is our 35-year tragic history.

  6. pablonasid says:

    Thank you for this comprehensive summary and analysis. During the Edsa revolution, I was working in the Middle East and I found this brilliant article in Time Magazine written like only a Filipina can write it, she described EDSA as a “party” where freshly roasted nuts were sold, people made music and the rest of the world did not understand how Filipino’s make revolution: love, no war. It was a close call, but she was right, Filipino’s can do things differently and with generosity. A bit later, I landed in Manila for the first time, with two very small kids while Honassan’s coup d’etat was ongoing and I noticed nothing, maybe it was the utter confusion of Manila airport which threw a veil around my brain, but also this coup d’etat went without significant damage to the Filipino people. It gave me the distinct impression that The Philippines could be a piece of heaven on earth with people this gentle in the face of civil unrest. Now, the kids who landed with me in Manila are grown up women with their own kids and the comment from Jack Lazo is both appropriate but also very worrying:
    Quote: “There’s an uncanny parallel between EDSA and the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years because they refused to believe what was promised to them. In the same way, one wonders if Filipinos truly grabbed the bull by the horns and claimed the bright future ahead.” Unquote
    Indeed, there could have been a bright future, but every time there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, they shoot themselves in the foot. But…. that is not the most worrying in Jack’s comparison. We have a saying that where there are 2 Jews, there are 3 political parties, in other words, unless there is grave danger, they cannot get organized. And like Jack said, this has been ongoing for 40 years in the desert and the 3300 years thereafter.
    Let’s just hope that Philippines gets it sorted out a bit faster and my grandchildren will get their children in a brighter Philippines.

  7. Karl Garcia says:

    From Angela Stuart Santiago.
    Re: Civil Disobedience.

  8. Major discussion on this subthread in Twitter:

    Zion Ryan Cruz: “I used to think we had People Power fatigue too, Karl. We have civic duty fatigue. It’s not that people aren’t going to the streets. They stopped talking. Stopped standing up. Out of fear, or cynicism. Maybe both. I think Manolo Quezon talked about it several times already.”

    MLQ3: “1. the old middle class migrated and the new middle class has no civic sense socialization as different churches, clubs, schools socialize them. 2. too many unintended consequences have made people collectively wary of extraconstitutional efforts; military less adventurist; 3. Edsa Dos was an example of unintented consquences; Edsa Tres brought up specter of urban insurrection which permanently spooked middle class (and hastened flight) when middle since 50s was moving force for reform.. constitution is a catch-22: too entrenched to dismiss, but too flawed to permit the system to reform itself from within the system; so we are stuck in hamster wheel of institutional atrophy and societal drift.”

    Khatar Lhal: “That’s true. I think they got sick of all the promises of a clean government yet every change we took a led to more corruption.”

    MLQ3: “I wonder. I think one fundamental lesson is that fighting corruption is only welcomed and toelrated so long as it is painless; the moment it causes inconvenience or petty corruption for convenience is affected, the people rebel.”

    Juana Pilipinas: “And so long as the corruption net is not cast on those close to home? We are a country of enablers.”

    Zion Ryan Cruz: “Yes— no one wants to sacrifice”

    Juana Pilipinas: “It is for the common good. The society is bigger than the family.

    Westerners often turn in family members to the authorities or a Mom/Dad/Sibling takes a child back to the store where he shoplifted to admit his mischief and promise to compensate the store owner.”

    Joel Rudinas: “The West is secular. The Philippines is a Catholic theocracy”

    Joe America: “The west is secular in governance but faith is important to many families and establishes a lot of the values that underpin governance. The Philippines does not seem a theocracy to me as the Church is not a political force. It’s more a telesyre-ocracy to me. Ritualistic, shallow.”

    Joel Rudinas: “True. We just don’t let religious guidance affect policy making….well, back in the good old days before the emergence of the far right.”

    WTF Philippines: “as a systems guy what’s the path to a decent society givven these constraints. obviously the PNoy solution is not app for the level of Societal Cohesion and ADHD. it seems a more paternalistic but enlightened leadership is necessary. a modern day MLQ.”

    (this is just one branch, more to follow!)

    • Answer by Carlos Jugo to MLQ3 about path of least resistance to corruption:

      “Lesson learned when Kim Henares [over]-zealously pursued tax collection, the Lawyers and Doctors turned on the Admin. Turns out it is easier to legislate new taxes (e.g. TRAIN)”

      Zion Ryan Cruz: “How effective were the new taxes? How much more taxes were collected compared to before? Did quality of life improve because of train?”

      Karl posts this link: https://opinion.inquirer.net/137937/deeper-and-deeper-into-debt

      Zion Ryan Cruz: “Yup— train weakened the economy, and covid just shot it down entirely. But hey, I’m no economist. We are in a precarious fiscal position.

      Personally I think the Henares way was the better way— raise tax effort versus raising taxes. I personally have always found BIR to be weird and incomprehensible.”

      Carlos Jugo: “Likewise, the Public agreed to the principle of resorting to better enforcement of existing laws rather than creating new laws. The previous Admin’s mistake was to take this agreement in principle at face value”

      Zion Ryan Cruz: “I could be very wrong about this. I don’t remember PNoy admin seeking consensus with business orgs on tax effort. I remember Kim Henares basically saying this is it, no ifs, no buts. I don’t know if Filipinos could be convinced otherwise without an iron hand”

      WTF Philippines: “MLQ3 writes about this a lot. The double whammy of Efficient Tax Collection and Efficient 4Ps administration angered the middle class overburdened with taxes and not enjoying much of anything. ( forgetting that we have jobs because the economy was doing well)”

      Carlos Jugo: “Which leads me to conclude that the Duterte Administration is the Philippine Middle Class’ (both Old and New) attempt at an alternative to Daang Matuwid with EJK instead of 4Ps, Corruption within people’s Comfort Zone etc.”

      MLQ3: “I’m not so sure, the Old Middle Class may have split on Roxas and Poe, but it still voted for Ocho Direcho… but its numbers are depleted.”

      Carlos Jugo: “In my Old Middle Class circle, support for Duterte is strong which is why i do not see much distinction between old and new Middle Classes”

      MLQ3: “That’s interesting”

      • Audreymio answers Carlos Jugo’s comment on Comfort Zone:

        “In a way, i think when they voted they are not aware that Duterte is a scam, just mine eh.”

        Carlos Jugo: “Yeah, Duterte looked vigorous enough at that time and Davao still had that mystique. What gets me is that these supposedly good folk of the Middle Class wholeheartedly endorsed Du30’s program of mass killings and it is the more religious ones who were especially enthusiastic DDS”

        Juana Pilipinas: “That is what baffled me: the doctors, lawyers, other professionals and supposedly God-fearing Filipinos who think that a lot of their countrymen are undisciplined and hardheaded that they deserve to be killed.”

        Joel Rudinas quoting Juana’s Tweet:

        “I remember telling an Italian friend of mine at my last job after the news of Kian delos Santos’ murder, that Filipinos have become brutally savage as a people and as a sociocultural reality due to this Faustian bargain for their discipline at all costs mentality

        …even as there is an element of hypocrisy embedded in that mentality as well. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of Filipinos who want a discipline at all costs mentality also struggle with the temptation to jump lines, follow traffic laws or even throw their trash properly”

  9. Karl Garcia says:

    I was corrected in socmed that the anniversary of the EDSA revolution should be February 25th not the 22nd.
    My bad.

  10. https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2021/02/23/2079703/power-imagination/amp/ – Veronica Pedrosa:

    “I want to tell everybody living in Burma that the February revolution is going to be successful. Eventually we’re going to make ourselves the last generation that’s going to witness a military dictatorship as well as a genocide on Burmese soil.”

    Confident words spoken by activist Htuu Lou Rae Den as mass demonstrations in Myanmar/Burma reach their height. As I write, millions of people have joined a general strike and brought the biggest cities across the country to a standstill, in scenes that echo those seen in Manila 35 years ago to the day, with the demonstrations that eventually ousted Ferdinand Marcos..

    ..The potent hope of Burma contrasts with a listless fatigue and boredom in the Philippines. Several people have told me how veteran activists of the 88 Generation Uprising in Burma asked to visit the Philippines in their first trip abroad after years in prison because they were so inspired by what happened in Manila in 1986.

    Those years since the overthrow of the Marcos regime stretch from my own middle-age to youth. Den’s confident enthusiasm reminds me of those days when there was everything to gain, nothing to lose, and anything was possible. Everyone will have their own opinion about what went wrong with the dreams of a new start for the Philippines in the intervening three and half decades.

    With one metaphorical foot in Burma and the other in the Philippines, what strikes me most is the power of political imagination. People aspire to what they can imagine: an idea of a better life, in a society where rights are upheld and government is for the good of the many, not the few..

    • kasambahay says:

      lots of filipinos shrugged thier shoulders po, been there, done that. most of edsa supporters have long decamped, hard hit by ideology that barely pay bills, putr food on the table and roof over their heads. creativity and imagination is one thing, reality another.

      as regards suu kyi, she has courted the military, compromised her principles over the rohingyas, lost swag of international humanitarian awards and now, she’s back to square one.

      lots of filipinos know where myanmar is headed, join the club.

      • I wonder if Filipinos have taken some things they have now for granted. Kowboy Santos showed via Ayala Alabang Girls that many things that were only for the rich before are now part of the middle class standard of living. My impression is that the average young Filipino today is taller than tiyos like me, which is a sign that the nutrition has improved. Most middle class on EDSA in 1986 were very THIN compared to the middle class of today which has other problems like diabetes and hypertension. Of course the urban poor are much worse off than before, especially as they have no more space for even kang kong, much less goats or like Balara residents of the 1970s pigs and chickens. Wealth or well-being isn’t just money. The middle class is affected by traffic and crime in congested urban areas. There are still too little jobs IN THE COUNTRY.

        Now the question is, is that the fault of democracy or is democracy just not (YET) run well. In Germany the answer of many in the new democracy of the Weimar Republic of the 1920s was democracy doesn’t work, let’s go back to having an absolute ruler again even if he is not the Kaiser. The success of postwar Germany has shown the answer of old to be WRONG. Though the 1949 German Constitution had an important goal hidden in the budget section – uniform living conditions in all parts of the Federation. The important aspects of economic well-being and social justice were not ignored, even in the core definition of the Federal Republic as a democratic and social (not socialist) federal state. Ok other culture and place, maybe it will never work in Pinas.

        Or did it not work because it was not properly worked on, because some thought having “just and humane society” in the preamble of the 1987 Constitution would miraculously make it happen? That is my question.

  11. https://johnnery.wordpress.com/2006/02/20/edsa-20-in-our-smallness/amp/

    Moments after the documentary aired tonight, a friend sent me a congratulatory message, which included the following line: “The nuns were a casting coup.” I could only reply: “It helps that God was the casting director.”

    Sisters Ping Ocariza and Terry Burias belong to the Daughters of St. Paul congregation. They had never attended street demonstrations before; that day they helped stop the tanks at the intersection of Edsa and Ortigas was the first time they joined a mass action. They happened to be at that exact corner because of a chain of accidents: They had signed up for the morning shift that Sunday, February 23, instead of the afternoon. When the tanks arrived they had lost track of their fellow nuns, who had gone back to their vehicle. In the confusion, they had found themselves asked (or pulled, according to Sister Ping) by others in the crowd to move to the front, right where the tanks were. (Because they had no families to look after, they had been told.) At that crucial juncture, they had found themselves leading a rosary —- without a microphone, Sister Terry recalls. (“It was probably the most beautiful rosary I ever said,” she added in Filipino.)

    In contrast with the thorough preparations of the rebel soldiers (which went for nought, after the planned coup was discovered), the nuns had no idea, when they woke up on Sunday morning, that they would be called to offer their prayers and their lives, at that fateful intersection. They had no inkling that, like millions of other ordinary Filipinos, they would be called to perform on history’s stage, right before the footlights. Deeply scared and yet strangely, serenely peaceful during the encounter with the tanks, they couldn’t possibly have planned on the iconic role they would assume in the Edsa story.

    In hesitant English, Sister Terry summed up what happened to them in Edsa. “In our smallness, God used us as his instrument.”

    • https://johnnery.wordpress.com/2006/02/22/edsa-20-we-knew-nothing-about-people-power/

      ..The military reform movement was certainly involved in the Edsa revolution; we can even say that the military reformists triggered the historic event. But did they “launch” it? That’s like asking whether “Kabuki,” Almonte’s famous charge in the early 1990s, wears no makeup. The answer is an emphatic No.

      They could not have launched it, because it was not part of their plan. That’s why it was crucial for them to get Fidel Ramos over on their side; he was their seal of good housekeeping, their badge of credibility. In the interview for the EDSA 20 documentary, Butz Aquino made a special mention of Ramos’s role, precisely as a guarantee of the Enrile faction’s good intentions.  (Of course, the Makati congressman added, that was then.) If Ramos had not been part of the defection, Aquino would not have called on people to troop to Edsa.  I doubt whether Cardinal Sin would have made his more famous appeal too..

  12. http://www.quezon.ph/1996/02/25/the-fabric-of-freedom/

    February 25, 1996—ON January 15, 1973, an execution—which, in retrospect, foreshadowed the elements of the rise of Ferdinand Marcos and also of his ignominious fall—took place. The condemned was no hero of democracy; he was a Chinese “alleged drug dealer,” Lim Seng. The execution was staged in the slick style of Marcos’ propaganda machine. It took place in Fort Bonifacio, in front of the reviewing stand. It would be shown on national television, which was unprecedented. The idea was to frighten the living daylights out of the Filipino.

    The man had been sentenced to die by a military tribunal, demonstrating the preeminent role that military justice would play in the New Society, in contrast to the agonizingly fastidious civilian tribunals before martial law..

    ..The truth is that from 1972 to April 6, 1978—the famous noise barrage on the eve of elections for the Batasang Pambansa—Marcos and his men had indeed mastered all the tricks and performed them usually with the desired effect. He took in the Americans with his tomfoolery about a freely-elected dictatorship. And the Filipinos allowed themselves to be taken in by the sham because they did not want to take risks with the truth.

    From a President insulted by a populace on his second inauguration with acts of lese majeste unknown in this polite country, he had—with Danton’s verve but Napoleon’s cunning—adopted his motto of “audace, et encoure de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace.” Boldness, and again boldness and always boldness.

    The Marcos regime was pure political cancan—a gaudy, garish, prurient show and, for a long while, fun for its beneficiaries..

    ..The Constitutional Convention, inaugurated in 1971, had been decimated, leaving only the pliant and frightened. The best were in jail or in exile. Those remained did not have to be, but where nonetheless offered membership in a new parliament if they signed the new constitution institutionalizing martial law and dictatorship. So sign most of them did.

    In January, 1973—in a referendum held without regulation—that Constitution was ratified. The proof of it were photos of people holding up their hands in assent, but to what no one dared ask. The rumor was that government officials asked them which they preferred: friend chicken or pancit. “Raise your hand.”

    The business community applauded the fact, which the Supreme Court said it was powerless to dispute: a new order was in place. The American Chamber of Commerce hailed the dictatorship..

    ..In Filipino Politics: Development and Decay, David Wurfel writes:

    “Throughout the late 1970s, martial law prompted essentially three types of opposition: the reformist, the religious, and the revolutionary.” A post-Edsa book—Dictatorship and Revolution: Roots of People’s Power, edited by Aurora Javante-de Dios, Petronilo Bn. Daroy, and Lorna Kalaw-Tirol, gives an ampler account, upon which a great deal of this story is based.


    On the eve of martial law, the militant Left, composed of student organizations in the cities and the New People’s Army in the countryside, made enough noise to frighten conservative elements in society and to give Ferdinand Marcos a pretext for emergency government. The First Quarter Storm, the storming of Malacanan Palace, the 12-day Diliman Commune, transport strikes and the spectre of a Red peasantry conditioned the public mind to drastic public measures. No one expected a dictatorship, though.

    The press disenchanted the public and itself with democracy by printing Eduardo Quintero’s exposé of the bribery by Malacañang of Constitutional Convention delegates. Bombs went off throughout the city, culminating in the grenade attack on the Liberal miting de avance at Plaza Miranda on August 21, 1971. That the government was suspected of most, if not all of the bombings, merely deepened the public gloom and sense of helplessness.

    Rigoberto D. Tiglao, in his essay, “The Consolidation of the Dictatorship,” does not think the Left was prepared—in training or logistics—to fight a proper war. But it had the one thing the milder opposition lacked: the will to fight the military on whom the Marcos dictatorship rested..

    ..In 1976 Jaime Sin repalced Rufino Cardinal Santos, who was reviled by the youth for his conservatism on social issues. Sin was not a firebrand when he donned the red cap, but he would change.

    Wurfel writes that “[o]utrage and compassionate action required no liberation theology when a priest learned of the arrest without charge or the torture of a beloved parishioner…

    ..This alienation from the government spread to the Protestants, a group which “had also been strongly committed to constitutional democracy,” having its roots in the American democratic ethic..

    ..Marcos’s most effective weapon against the politicians was their own cupidity. He paid them off and recruited them into the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

    Not all of them. A few voices continued to heard, echoing Ninoy Aquino’s protests from his prison. They were those of Lorenzo Tañada, elder statesman and lawyer to detainees; Jose Diokno, after Ninoy the one detained longest by the dictator; Jovito Salonga, counsel for political prisoners, then a prisoner himself. Raul Manglapus and other Filipino exiles in America denounced the dictatorship to a handful of decent Americans who would listen, among them Stephen Solarz.

    Adversity made these leaders into men of far higher principle than they were thought to have been previously. Ninoy Aquino, in particular, transcended a reputation for facile, self-centered brilliance and of being a too-ambitious and fluid politician..

    ..WITH the yet-unreleased National Security Code in his pocket, Ferdinand Marcos declared, on January 16, 1981, that he was going to lift martial law. He did not need martial law with the Code.

    The announcement was carefully timed; it helped distract the attention at a time when (Wurfel notes) “the flight of Dewey Dee, Chinese millionaire, had just triggered the financial crisis.” It also coincided with the inauguration Ronald Reagan, and prepared the way for the visit of the Pope.

    The next day martial law was formally suspended, with the proviso that all martial law decrees and instructions remained in force.

    As the New York Times opined, “He retains all his emergency powers; he can restore martial law at any time. This is the hard substance beneath the welcome symbol.” He was as powerful as ever.

    Graciously, he restored the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, but only with respect to those acts that never needed them. The writ remained suspended over Mindanao and for such crimes as speaking ill of the government, subversion and threats to national security..

    ..THE revulsion among businessmen grew when their stand-ins in the Marcos government were marginalized, as quickly as they had been brought in.

    Together with Gerardo Sicat, Roberto Ongpin, and Placido Mapa, Cesar Virata was the compleat technocrat—reputedly honest, certainly proficient in his field. His presence had deodorized the profligate dictatorship with its creditors abroad. Marcos even made him a member of the 14-man Executive Committee, whose ranks took years to fill. In the event of Marcos’s death, Virata was in the running to succeed him. Raised to these lofty heights, the business community was supposed to feel that their own kind were in positions of responsibility and respect in the Marcos regime.

    In 1982 Virata asked that the Central Bank stop discounting loans for sugar planters, who had been hard-hit by the collapse of the sugar industry. The planters grumbled that it was all Benedicto’s fault, since he was the head of the sugar monopoly. Virata’s action raised the hackles of the cronies; Marcos allowed them to strike back in 1983..

    ..IN 1983, on the anniversary of the Plaza Miranda bombing, Ninoy Aquino came home to die. The man who was hustled down the side stairs of the airport tube, where his China Airlines flight had docked, was a man far different from the ebullient senator of 1971.

    He was a man purified of any suspicion of self-interested action; a proven patriot. He had returned not even to fight, but to try and make peace with the dictatorship and hopefully make it relax its grip. Marcos returned his offer of reconciliation with a bullet.

    Except Marcos said it did not come from him, but from the communists.

    In front of 2,000 soldiers sent to meet the exiled senator, Ninoy Aquino was taken down by three Philippine Constabulary officers, and before his feet touch the tarmac, shot in the back of the head.

    The nation was stunned, first into terror and then into rage..

    ..The energy unleashed by Ninoy’s death was too much to be contained within a single group, as people experienced the thrill and euphoria of indulging in daring acts of insubordination. Small groups sprouted like mushrooms on the deadwood of the state: ATOM, GABRIELA, CORD, a flurry of acronyms competed with each other in coming up with gimmicks demonstrating opposition: from jogging for justice, to dressing up your pets in yellow, a piece of kitsch meant for the queen of it, Imelda Marcos.

    Any conceivable anniversary was marked by the birth of one of these groups and by spontaneous demonstrations, which by themselves excited a public long revolted by the staged spontaneous actions of the Marcos regime.

    Added to the sound of ati-atihan drums were the rumblings of a collapsing economy. In the wake of Ninoy’s death, capital flight accelerated; the peso plummeted; businesses failed, and government, on October 14, declared itself bankrupt and asked for a 90-day moratorium on foreign debt payments. World Bank officials revealed in shocked tones that the window-dressing of the Central Bank’s reserves. Was there no honor among thieves?..

    ..And it was time to plan for bigger things. Around the time of the May 14 elections, a Jesuit and businessmen’s group began deliberating again on the contingencies should Marcos die. This group called themselves the Facilitators. They finally decided on a way to find a candidate quickly. They called it the “fast-track system.” Its aim, to avoid the inevitable bickering and internecine strife sure to attend the selection of a common presidential candidate should elections be suddenly called.

    Emmanuel Soriano, Dr. Alfredo Bengzon, Ricardo Lopa, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, and Ramon del Rosario Jr., all members of Manindigan!, were the architects of this process. They met with the Convenor Group, composed of Tanada (representing the “Left of Center”), Jaime Ongpin (representing moderates), and Cory Aquino, the “symbol of unity.”

    Both groups met on November 13, 1984,and came up with a list of “potential standard bearers”: Butz Aquino, Jose Diokno, Teofisto Guingona, Eva Kalaw, Salvador Laurel, Raul Manglapus, Ramon Mitra, Ambrosio Padilla, Aquilino Pimentel, Rafael Salas, and Jovito Salonga. A month later these people met with the Facilitators and the Convenor Group, and agreed to sign a Declaration of Unity. Kalaw and Laurel abstained..

    ..EDSA, the apotheosis of the middle class (in contrast to Marcos’ hollow self-apotheosis in 1981) lay ahead. The inauguration at Club Filipino, which the Left grumbled was a mere restoration, which of course, it was. They had a right to grumble. If they had not been in the last act, their bloody struggled had composed all the previous ones.

    But the people who had marched and fought alone in the 70s and 80s should have expected nothing less from those who suddenly swelled the ranks of the opposition after Ninoy’s murder. These people had decided that the time for involvement had come precisely because the things the Left despised but which they valued—order, decency, the safety of property—were in grave peril. They, who were leery politics, had taken over it completely to restore everything to the way it was, and put politics and power again in its subordinate place. These people were the warp and woof of that rug that would be pulled from under Marcos, and would throw him flat on his back.

  13. https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2016/02/24/1556571/yellow-ribbon

    On the origin of yellow as a symbol in the Philippines:

    “Ninoy’s friends and supporter decided to tie yellow ribbons around trees and fences along his planned route from the airport to his home in Times Street, Quezon City. But he never saw the ribbons since he was assassinated even before he stepped on the airport tarmac.

    The yellow ribbon was chosen to symbolize that he had people eagerly waiting to welcome him home. The symbol of the yellow ribbon had actually become widely known in the 1970s, It was the central theme of a popular song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, written by Irvine Levine and Russell Brown. The song told the story of released prisoner of war who asked his wife and family to indicate whether they would welcome him home. He would be able to see from the bus driving by their house, and would stay on the bus in the absence of the ribbon. He turned out to be very welcome.

    Ninoy had been exiled for three years. Since media was the captive of the Marcos regime, there was no public way of publicly announcing any welcome. So the yellow ribbon  symbolism seemed so appropriate.Here are the lyrics:

    I’m coming home, I’ve done my time, Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine

    If you’ve received my letter telling you I’d soon be free, Then you’ll know just what to do

    If you still want me, if you still want me, Whoa tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree..

    ..On Aug. 31, 1983, two million people defied martial law and lined the streets of Metro Manila to watch the funeral procession from Sto. Domingo Church to  Manila Memorial Park.  For the first time, the color yellow appeared  as a symbol of defiance. In the rallies that ensued people wore yellow shirts, waved yellow flags, tied yellow ribbons everywhere and yellow confetti cascaded down from office buildings every time rallies marched..”

  14. People Power Thanksgiving Mass on March 2, 1986

  15. https://opinion.inquirer.net/138012/protector-of-the-people/

    The 1987 Constitution declares, “The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people.” During the Marcos regime, whenever AFP soldiers patrolled the hinterlands, they could sense that the people did not welcome them as the AFP was perceived as the protector of the Marcos dictatorship. In the 1986 Edsa I, the AFP finally broke free from the Marcos dictatorship and transformed itself as the protector of the people. The AFP had learned the hard lesson that it cannot win an insurgency, or survive for long, without the support of the people. In the 2001 Edsa II, the AFP again sided with the people.

    Thirty-five years after Edsa I, the AFP seems to have forgotten that hard lesson from the Marcos dictatorship. Under the Duterte administration, the AFP is now alienating itself from the people through a series of dubious initiatives. First, the AFP initiated the anti-terrorism law, empowering military personnel, without judicial warrants, to arrest anyone suspected of terrorism. The 1987 Constitution reinstated the safeguard in the 1935 Constitution that only judges can issue warrants of arrest, precisely because of the abuses in the issuance by executive officials of arrest and seizure orders during the Marcos dictatorship. The anti-terrorism law seeks to undo this safeguard. Thirty seven petitions, filed by people representing a broad cross-section of Philippine society, have questioned the constitutionality of the anti-terrorism law. This is a case of the people versus the AFP..

  16. Kiko Pangilinan about how life could be today if Edsa hadn’t happened.

  17. Karl Garcia says:

    No room for whining and sensitivity, on my part.
    I just tried my best to be balanced, but can’t please ’em all.
    Here is the tweet of the year winner(sarcasm).

  18. Karl Garcia says:

    I honestly do not get his point.
    Why would LP leaning have to admit that the promise of EDSA failed?
    Life is what you make of it.

  19. madlanglupa says:

    Somewhat related, a British comedianne managed to penetrate the inner sanctum and give us an insider’s eye of what is like in the fantasy world of the petty Marcoses, circa 1996. The video should be further disseminated for research, as documentation about their delusion is slowly being overshadowed by their vile revisionist propaganda.

  20. https://philstarlife.com/news-and-views/974370-from-cory-to-covid-an-alternative-history – Butch Dalisay:

    When The Philippine STAR was founded 35 years ago, we were still enveloped in the euphoric glow of having successfully deposed a dictator peacefully and installing an icon of democracy in his place.

    I was one of that happy throng on EDSA celebrating what we believed was a new dawn of hope, a fresh opportunity for our people to grow in freedom and prosperity. Like many writers, I ran out of metaphors and superlatives to describe that moment, which seemed nothing short of miraculous.

    Nowadays it has become commonplace—indeed even fashionable in some quarters—to revise and reject that narrative, and to claim that it was a foolish mistake to have replaced a seasoned politician with a rank amateur. Martial law wasn’t so bad; no wanton thievery took place; only a few were hurt for the good of the many; we were never so disciplined, and our streets were never so clean.

    How we came to this point—like the resurgence of Nazism in Europe and of racism in Trump’s America—is for me the great mystery of those 35 years, an arc of sorts marked by Cory on one end and by COVID on the other. There’s certainly no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, as should happen in fairyland—which we rather quickly realized, right after EDSA, was not where we were.

    For some such as Jose Rizal, Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Mozart, Manuel Arguilla, Bruce Lee, Eva Peron and, yes, Jesus Christ, 35 years was a lifetime. You could have been born in a hospital while the tanks were massing at EDSA, and died this year of COVID, gasping for breath in that same place.

    Had that happened to me, I would have protested and pleaded, albeit inaudibly through my tubes, that it wasn’t fair, that I deserved a peek over the horizon, at least through to the May election, to see if it was worth the wait—or not, and then slink into sullen slumber.

    During that time, I grew from a young father and a writer on the verge of a teaching career to an aching retiree surrounded by old books and creaky machines, and I have to wonder if our nation fared better and learned as much. Or should I say “unlearned”?

    At EDSA I learned to hope, to trust in the ideal and the good again, to have positive expectations of the new century looming ahead. FVR and his “Philippines 2000” thumbs-up may have seemed hokey at the time, but there was a genuine spring in that step, a sense of things going in the right direction. And then they began falling apart, the old mistrust and suspicions returned, and we took one president down and nearly succeeded with yet another.

    But it wasn’t just us. The closing decades of the 20th century were a time of sweeping changes all over the world. Soon after Marcos fell, a tide of reform and revolution washed across Eastern Europe and eventually into the Soviet Union itself; that union collapsed, the Berlin Wall fell, and it seemed like the era of dictators and despots was over, but it was not. With Hong Kong in its navel, China morphed into a commercial colossus, proving that freedom and capitalism do not necessarily go together. The 1997 financial crisis shook the planet.

    After 9/11, whatever remaining hopes we had of a better new century vaporized, and the new specter of terrorism now stalked the globe. Barely had ISIS retreated from the sands of Syria when a new and even more insidious plague, COVID-19, threatened to annihilate mankind.

    Others will remember this period as the age of cocaine, corporate greed, mass shootings, and, generally speaking, a culture of excess, of over-the-top indulgence on whatever floated your boat: drugs, sex, money, power, toys. Very few people had actual access to them, but the media—that’s another whole story—kept glorifying vice as virtue, until many began to believe it well enough to dream. It was Dickens’ “best of times and worst of times” all over again.

    That would be the sober—and sobering—summary of what tomorrow’s history books will be saying about those decades. But of course—and thankfully—it wasn’t all politics and the misery that often comes with plays for power.

    There’s a part of me that wants to tell the story of these past 35 years as the rise of consumer technology toward near-total domination of our daily lives. Humor me as I recall little vignettes to show what I mean.

    When the EDSA uprising broke out, we heard the news over a big black Panasonic radio-cassette player that I had picked up years earlier at the Zamboanga barter trade place (along with the obligatory sotanghon and White Rabbit candies). It was—beside our 12-inch, black-and-white, red plastic-bodied TV—our news and entertainment center in the boonies of San Mateo. It sat on our dinner table, accompanying our meals like a permanent guest, sometimes directing the conversation.

    When it spewed out the news that something dramatic was taking place at EDSA, and when we heard Cardinal Sin calling on people to go, we knew we had to. Not long after, we piled into my VW Beetle, turned on its radio for updates, and headed for the trenches. For the next few days or so, radio was king, whether at home, in your car, or in your pocket (yes, boys and girls, there was pocket radio; TV was around but only the coolest people had portable versions).

    I missed out on most of the Cory years because I went to America for my graduate studies, and there I became anchored to the payphone for my calls home, clutching a handful of quarters to feed the machine. I had hand-carried an Olympia typewriter to write my thesis on, but then I discovered computers, and in 1991 I lugged home a 20-pound behemoth with all of 10 megabytes to fill up. I felt like a gunslinger—I was going to write the next Noli, protect the weak, and get justice with one floppy disk after another.

    Nothing would define the ’90s more than the personal computer, and I soon equated the machine with creation, the blinking cursor with a challenge to produce. I drooled (and lost the plot) when I watched Scully and Mulder hunched over a super-sexy PowerBook 540c in the X-Files, and when I got my own, it was like Moses receiving the tablets—with a trackpad and an active-matrix display.

    Soon another gadget emerged with which we felt even more tethered to some central brain: the pager, whose insistent buzz enhanced our importance, even if all it asked was where you were and could you please come home. Fake news had yet to be invented as a cottage industry, but a lot of it, I’m sure, went through EasyCall and PocketBell.

    By the time the next EDSA happened, we had something far snappier and more personal than radio with which to undertake regime change. Yes, I was now writing speeches on a Mac, but the messages flew thick and fast on a new gadget—the cellphone.
    If EDSA 1 succeeded because of radio, this iteration flew on the wings of SMS, the millions of texts (the jokes, the rumors, the calls to action) whose accretion would spell the end for an inebriated presidency.

    As it happened, 2001 would be memorable for another image seared into our consciousness: the collapse of the Twin Towers, brought to us slightly delayed and in full color by satellite TV. We’d had TV before, of course, but had always seen it more as Comedy Central, a box to gather the family around. CNN changed that, and brought the world’s torments to our living rooms. Cheaper TVs, one in every room, had long fragmented the family, especially when Betamax and VHS, the precursors of Netflix, became available.

    A few years later, a cellular phone call and a recorder almost took another political giant down, causing millions to gasp and laugh as the tape was replayed on TV and radio over and over. “Ang importante hindi madamay yung sa itaas,” said a female voice, which was exactly what happened. That year, 2005, was also the year a platform called YouTube was born—and thanks to YouTube, the tape can still be heard, for all digital eternity.

    Indeed, video, the Internet, and social media would soon change the political and cultural landscape, not just here but the world over, although the Pinoy—perhaps in response to that elusive quest for Olympic gold—has towered over much of humanity in terms of Facebook usage (and earlier, in SMS transmissions). One way of putting it would be that we are the world’s champion usiseros and chismosos, resorting to Twitter or Instagram at the merest hint of an idea, no matter how malformed.

    Today we have an abundance of information and information sources at our disposal—and yet we seem to be as ill-informed as ever, with opinions shaped and manipulated by Sith Lords in the Dark Web.

    Dismissing newspapers and editors as gatekeepers of the truth—which not all of them have been—we create our own versions and peddle them instantly for a thousand “likes,” the supreme accolade of the early 21st century. Most others might prefer to be simply receivers and forwarders of whatever crosses their screens, the passive agents of mindlessness.

    Thirty-five years ago, we drove to EDSA on pure conviction that it was the right thing to do. Without Twitter or even SMS, no one could tell us “Right on!” or “Me, too!”

    We listened for scraps of news and turned them over and over in our hushed minds; we could be killed; we could be free; would our friends be there; what else did we study for. It was a long drive from San Mateo to my in-laws’ place in Project 4, where we parked the car and walked to EDSA. It was a lot of time to think.

    Thirty-five years is a lot of time, but looking around today, with Filipinos still dying by the gun or by drowning in one’s own fluids in some alien hospital, I have to wonder how this narrative arc from Cory to COVID will end—or how much longer it will go, at least in my lifetime, which naively still yearns for a happy ending.

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  1. […] that rare in a country where different groups have very different principles. The common ground of 1986/7 is shaking […]

  2. […] settings may need a concept of pluralism, which Karl interestingly defines like this in his EDSA article (excerpt): “In my opinion, there should be a balance among the isms from Socialism to […]

  3. […] Unfortunately, the security establishments have human rights abuse records especially during Martial law. Today the endless-insurgencies still seem endless, the drug war led to more abuses and now there’s red-tagging as I mentioned in my EDSA article. […]

  4. […] representative. Yet the same factors that amplified mourning for Ninoy and were a catalyst for EDSA Uno and Dos as well as community pantries all over also amplified hate against PNoy forMamasapano, […]

  5. […] sequestered then in the aftermath of the February revolution, which Karl described in an article last year. Yet Eric Gamalinda was also right when he wrote this […]

  6. […] since People Power. We are reposting this video online in anticipation of the 25th Anniversary of People Power this February 21 to 25, […]

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