EDSA Uno: Much ado over a forgotten event

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MR. ALMONTE and a group of former RAM officers are right now dueling over who did play a greater and more heroic role during EDSA UNO, the civilian-backed military revolt that toppled Mr. Marcos. The debate is now public and there would be no nice ending to it. Here is the thing though: The two squabbling parties are not probably aware that there is no public interest in their debate. That the debate had spilled over into the papers offered no guarantee that it would get public attention.

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Who did what and who planned what during EDSA UNO (and the tension- filled months before it) is probably one of those issues that the public has gotten tired of. The enough-of-this-EDSA UNO stuff is for real. The recent commemoration of that event was, to use a graphic Tagalog term, nilangaw. The enthusiasm is gone.

I for one look back at EDSA UNO with one question and a mundane one: Are there still negatives of the photos that the late photojournalism great Willie Vicoy snapped of Mrs. Aquino at the Mactan airport tarmac before she boarded the Ayala-owned plane for Manila after the outbreak of the revolt at a military camp?

Manila-bound Mrs. Aquino wanted a photo session with the journalists (foreign and Filipinos) who had covered her fight to topple Marcos — and were with her at the Cebu rally calling for a boycott of the crony firms. Instead of giving a press briefing on what she planned to do to help hasten the exit of Marcos, her words at the airport tarmac were something like these: “Willie (Vicoy) kunin mo kami. Baka ito na ang huli nating pagsasama.” Having covered Mrs. Aquino for what seemed like eternity, I was at the front row of the pack. Willie, a kind and gentle human being who nearly won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the Vietnam War, promised to give each and every member of the journalism pack prints and negatives of those photos. His prodigious career ended in an ambush. And we failed to get the “farewell photos” with Mrs. Aquino.

Indeed, even those of us who can relate to EDSA UNO in a profound way, currently hold no dear or cherished memory of that revolt. The millennials, roughly 99 percent of them, do not probably know who Mr. Almonte is. Or what RAM stands for. EDSA, to the current generation, is the gridlocked main road of Metro Manila, not the site of an upheaval that influenced game-changing events across the globe, including the demolition of the Berlin Wall.

Why is EDSA UNO mostly a blur to the current generation? And a topic avoided by those who had lived through the brief post-Marcos euphoria? Many answers have been given.. But the most plausible is this. The democratic restoration that is the universally-appreciated legacy of EDSA UNO also restored the old political and business oligarchy. While EDSA Uno may have helped in the unfolding of iconic global events such as the Velvet Revolution and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it did little in changing our country and just preserved the political and economic status quo.

Just look at the backgrounds of the presidents who came after Marcos, the toppled despot, and Mrs. Aquino, the icon of democracy.

Fidel V. Ramos, the constabulary chief who broke away from his cousin (Mr. Marcos) to help Mr. Enrile, then defense minister, stage the bloodless coup against Mr. Marcos.

Joseph Estrada, a long-time, martial law-era mayor of San Juan in Metro Manila, who was one of the anchors of the political opposition to Mrs. Aquino in the first post-EDSA legislative elections.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the daughter of a former president.

Benigno S. Aquino 111, the son of Mrs. Aquino and Benigno Aquino Jr., the opposition figure whose assassination led to the EDSA revolt.

It took a longer time for the Indonesians to topple Suharto. But the cleansing of the old order truly came to Indonesia recently as it elected a popular leader, President Jokowi, with no connection to either the Suharto or Sukarno regimes.

Angela Merkel, a bland scientist and a minister’s daughter whose adult life was mostly spent on research and inside laboratories, is now the undisputed leader of a united Germany – after demolishing the entrenched political royalty of her country.

We are blissfully stuck to the past as the other countries that took inspiration from our original people power revolt have moved on.

The 2016 presidential election may offer no relief and, no break from the past as the gallery of possible candidates are of the standard progeny – political lifers and legacy politicians. Some groups are trying to cast Davao City Mayor Rudy Duterte as an outsider who would bring a fresh governing culture should he win the presidency. Google “Duterte” however and you will know that it is a political family as ancient as Mindanao.

Only the election to the presidency of an insurgent unattached to the old political and economic oligarchy would snap out the general indifference of most Filipinos to politics and civic culture of their country.

A fresh face with bold governing ideas. And a radical departure from the standard-issue politicians which common denominator is this: get elected to the highest office of the land just to frustrate and let us down.

Marlen Ronquillo
mvronq@yahoo.com

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13 Comments

  1. If Manong Johnny is the architect of martial law, he must also have been the architect of its dismantling. Looking back, it seems that the aggrupation at EDSA in February 1986 was just a grand zarzuela that was hatched to give Mr. Andy a “gracious exit”. Since all those cronies do not want Mr. Andy to resign because it will affect their business interests to the point that they have to kill his heir apparent at the tarmac, Messrs. Andy and Johnny have to make it appear as if he was “driven away by the people”. With the show, the gullible thought that they “got” back their dignity and earned their bragging rights of “toppling” a “dictator” but that was precisely the way it was engineered. Those pretentious thought they “achieved” a milestone but Mr. Andy knew and understood very well the Filipino public’s mass psychology and the show played on that public psyche.

    For if it was real, do you think Mr. Fabian needs to ask Mr. Andy a permission to bomb those guys holed up at Camp Aguinaldo? Do you think they still need to make a televised public appearance and a public scolding of Mr. Fabian? If Mr. Andy is mad at Manong Johnny for those scripted remarks aired on that day, Mr. Andy could have already ordered an attack at 5:30pm on those guys long before the Cardinal made the call at about 7:30pm that night. If they can make a “palabas” of an assasination attempt, what could stop the guy from planning the spectacle? If my memory serves me right, no death certificate yet of the guy has been made public which makes me inclined to believe friends telling me to have been able to speak with the person.

  2. Hanggang ang mga elitista at mga edukadong tao ay patuloy ipinipikit ang mga tama at tinatakpan ang tenga!maging ang mga pari ay inisip lang ang sariling interest nila!
    Kasakiman at walang pagmamahal sa sariling bansa!
    Walang mangyayaring pagbabago!ito ang mga taong lagi ipinagyayabang na makadios sila!
    Ang mahihirap pa ang ginagawa nilang scapegoat!!mga edukadong hanggal!!

  3. huwag iboto ang mga pulitiko na tulad ng mga nabangggit sa itaas at nagising na ang mga filipno sa katotohanan after EDSA 1 which is run by the elitist people , yellow tard mostly from Makati district. The filipinos who went to EDSA 1 learn from their mistakes. Democracy for the rich people and not for the ordinary people. Binobola lang ang mga filipino na sinasabing democracy pero sa bulsa ng gahaman na mga alipores ng mongoloid na lider na ating bansa napupunta and kayamanan ng bansa. Capitalism is not for the people but for the CAPITALIST..WE WILL VOTE BONG BONG MARCOS . HE IS MORE QUALIFIED THAN THOSE WHO WANT TO BE CANDIDATE OF THE PRESIDENT. AFTER EDSA 1 ONLY THOSE ELITIST PEOPLE GRANTED MORE BENEFITS THAN THE ORDINARY PEOPLE, ASIDE FROM BBL WHICH IS against the philippine constitution…. Please feed ur mind. We are not born yesterday…

  4. Let’s face it, about 89% of Filipinos does not want to admit mistakes more so the Hocus Picos created president. EDSA 1 destroyed every pride left of Filipinos. Look at those people at the makati city hall, they look so pathetic. I will never be surprised if F##yaw will be elected as president sooner or later.

  5. Amnata Pundit on

    Well said. The apathy is the result of a feeling of discomforting dissonance between what people hear from the loud yellow megaphones and what they are actually seeing with their own eyes and feeling in their own gut. Is it akin to to what happens to a poor and helpless victim of a very clever but vicious con game which stuns him into painful and deeply embarrassing silence which marks him for life. Only someone evil is capable of such a crime.

  6. Muriel Magtanggol on

    The Aquinos and their allies/cronies destroyed whatever hope Edsa 1 created. Cory allowed her own KKK, Ninoy’s friends to ransak our coffers, some to perpetuate in power. I was one of the early supporters who went to Crame. I regret it now! Never again will i help to install an Aquino or their cohorts!

  7. We are stuck in the past because the mass media continues to glorify EDSA 1 and remind the future generations that they have to beat up a dead horse in order to protect the oligarchs, what they should do is to tell everyone the lessons learn and the failure of the said revolution, which did not uplift the lives of every filipino.

  8. I am a retired man who participated in all past elections starting with Marcos. I have resolved to boycott the next election and likely the next elections because I cannot see any fresh face unattached to the old political and oligarchic system that we have in our country now and in the future. I feel hopeless that there will ever be a change in my lifetime although I still pray for a miracle no less that by God’s mercy we might be redeemed from this national malady.

  9. Leodegardo Pruna on

    True, there is no interest on who- Almonte or RAM, took major role in EDSA 1. That is a history already accumulating dusts. Whatever came out of EDSA 1 beginning with Cory were mixed but euphoria at first ending down to sorry state because there was nobody to sustain and lead with respect. Cory’s watch was marked by several coups and energy crisis, FVR, the anointed one, buried the country into more debt with his IPPs, etc. Where is the Philippines now? Grasping for breath in the midst of competition with countries like Vietnam slowly overtaking if not already overtaken the Philippines. A leader with self respect and unselfish in love of country is yet to be found. So let us leave the matter of Almonte and RAM to their gusto. Back to bhe basics of leadership and good governance. God bless the Philippines.

  10. Vicente Penetrante on

    That was the ‘bloodless’ revolution.
    What I cannot forget is Edsa Tres, when Gloria invited the Edsa people to Malacanang with snipers atop the palace. No military were on the side of the people whom Gloria wanted to send fast to heaven.

  11. Roldan Guerrero on

    The reluctance of most Filipinos to unseat BSA means the rejection of Binay as next president of the republic. Had he possesed a good image of public service, and the qualities of a competent CEO, long ago, Aquino should have been in the trash. Allegations of corruption against Binay during his term as Makati mayor, whether true or not, went cloudy because of his refusal to submit himself for interrogation at the upper house. Being a lawyer, he must be good enough to put those cloudy allegations against him, but failed to do it, even backtracked on his challenge for a debate to a non-lawyer barking dog of BSA. He is then a 2nd rate lawyer, therefore he is not qualified to become a president. We are now in a country that is full of mesh as a result of electing a playful, extremely egoistic president but could not even manage himself correctly, plus a bunch of substandard technocrats who qualified to hold key positions because they are KKKs and Political Balimbings who were all intending for their personal advances. We need an honest, competent and a dedicated person to succeed the incumbent who has put this nation and every Filipinos into the highest level of shame and disgrace.

  12. hindi ko alam kung ano ba talaga ang totoo. dati nababasa ko na si Gen. Almonte ang founder or father of RAM. pero ngayon ay dine-deny naman nina Gringo na naging leader nila si Almonte, at biglang sumingit at sumulpot na lang si Almonte sa RAM organization at kine-claim na leader siya ng RAM.

    ewan kung bakit hindi itinanggi dati ni Gringo ang mga lumabas a newspapers noon na founder ng RAM si Almonte.

    • KITAM! puro PMAyers mga yan. Sila-sila eh pare-parehong NAGSISINUNGALING!!! Kala ko me Honor Code ang PMA na bawal magsinungaling? Alin ba ang tutoo??? Sina Honasan, et al. bakit sila mga tahimik sa insidente sa Mamasapano? BAKIT???