read boying pimentel‘s Never mind EDSA: Remember the battles before the uprising. i agree with most of pimentel’s sentiments except the “Never mind EDSA” part of the title and, in the essay itself, these lines:
Celebrating EDSA has typically been about remembering only the last three years of the Marcos nightmare.
That’s not enough. That has even hurt our ability to explain what happened.
Time to go beyond EDSA.
fine to focus on the 10 years of martial law previous to ninoy’s assassination — years of silence, fear, terror, and defiance, indeed. and good to remind that the unrest and the dissidence that culminated in EDSA ’86 started long before ninoy was assassinated. that three years into martial law, la tondena workers dared go on strike :
One of the first major open acts of rebellion against the dictatorship happened in October 1975 when about 500 workers at La Tondena went on strike, the first during martial law.
Led by former student activist Edgar Jopson and veteran labor activists, it was a bold, extremely dangerous move. The regime, in the early years of martial law, cracked down hard on even the mildest form of dissent.
The strike was broken up. Strikers were arrested. But word of the protest action spread, and La Tondena became one of the symbols of resistance.
In fact, the strike slogan — “Tama Na! Sobra Na! Welga Na!” — would later be modified to become the battle cry of the final battle against Marcos: “Tama Na! Sobra Na! Palitan Na!”
read, too, carlos maningat‘s Before EDSA 1 was the 1975 La Tondeña strike
Defying the protest ban during the Marcos dictatorship, around 800 workers of then Palanca-owned La Tondeña distillery in Tondo, Manila launched a paralyzing strike on Oct. 24, 1975 as they called for an end to contractualization. In particular, they demanded the regularization of contractual workers, as well as the reinstatement and regularization of all fired contractual workers. Amid the overwhelming presence of the military and goons, the workers stood their ground for at least 44 hours to assert their demands.
…In the course of the three-day strike, nuns, priests and seminarians stood guard and held a vigil, supplying food for workers and distributing manifestos to passers-by. Student leader Edgar Jopson, former president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, also supported the workers’ strike.
… Hundreds were arrested in La Tondeña alone. Their strike proved to be successful nevertheless as the management gave in to some of their demands, including the regularization of around 300 workers. On a larger context, the strike tore down Marcos’ autocratic ban on protest actions and signaled the outburst of more daring protests, culminating in general strikes up to the People Power uprising in 1986.
good to remind, too, of the 1978 noise barrage, but it happened on the eve of the April 7 elections, not after. the jailed Ninoy was running for the batasang pambansa, as was imelda. read tingting cojuangco‘s Flashback: Ninoy and the 1978 elections.
One day, a chain letter to Peping surfaced at a rally. “At seven in the evening, I will go out to the street and make noise by beating a pan, blowing a horn, or even shouting in protest.” It was a terrific idea and Peping endorsed it. So thousands of mimeographed copies of the letter were distributed in all the churches on Sunday. What a monumental success and it happened on the eve of election day. Ninoy even heard it from his prison cell in Fort Bonifacio.
i remember those exciting times.
Except for one TV appearance, Ninoy’s campaign was left to his wife Cory and seven-year old Kris, whose rallying cry was, “Help my Daddy come home!” On April 6, the eve of elections, Ninoy’s secret admirers from left, right, and center responded under cover darkness with the historic noise barrage. At 7:00 PM on the dot, we took to Manila’s streets yelling, “Laban!” and making the L sign with thumb and index fingers, accompanied by car horns shrieking, pots and pans banging, whistles blowing, sirens wailing, church bells pealing, alarm bells ringing, never mind if the dreaded military picked us all up. We had no idea then that it was organized by Communist Party leader Filemon aka Popoy Lagman, and if we had known, we would have joined anyway just to spite the dictator.
The noise barrage did not win Ninoy the election that was marked by massive cheating, but it told him in no uncertain terms that there were Filipinos out there, anonymous but increasing in numbers, who like him were yearning for freedom. These people were not to surface for another five years. [EDSA Uno: A Narrative and Analysis with Notes on Edsa Dos and Tres (1913). 25]
pimentel does not move on to the next “mini-EDSA” five years later, when ninoy came home from US exile and was assassinated, while under military escort, in broad daylight.
Ninoy never saw the yellow ribbons adorning trees and street posts or heard the people, anonymous no longer, sing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” in welcome. Ninoy is dead, long live Ninoy! Yellow was the color of the people and Radio Veritas the voice of the opposition. Veritas, owned and operated by the Catholic Church, was the only radio station that dared broadcast the assassination and relay the nation’s shock and dismay. No one doubted that Marcos was to blame, never mind who pulled the trigger. Even the elite minority was offended—if he could do it to Ninoy he could do it to them.
The message of Ninoy’s sacrifice was not lost on the people. Ninoy’s courage touched them, roused them from their apathy, rekindled their sense of collective worth. The Filipino is worth dying for. Then and there, thousands of his admirers who joined the ’78 noise barrage under cover of darkness dared step forward in the light of day and be counted among the grieving. They came in droves to Ninoy’s and Cory’s home in Times Street, Quezon City and quietly, bravely, lined up for a glimpse of his bloody remains and to bid their fallen hero goodbye; thousands more followed his remains to Sto. Domingo Church. On the day of the funeral, millions left their homes and workplaces to march and line the streets where Ninoy’s casket would pass, and they raised their fists, sang “Bayan Ko,” cried, “Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa!” [31-32]
and just to complete the narrative: two years and some six months later came the feb 7 1986 snap elections that saw coryistas guarding ballot boxes and reporting cheating and other irregularities nationwide, broadcast by radio veritas. eight days later the batasang pambansa declared marcos the winner anyway, and the very next day, feb 16, cory held that giant protest rally in luneta where she claimed victory and rolled out the hugely successful crony-boycott and civil disobedience campaign. the people were already in the throes of revolution, and ripe for EDSA, when the final four days of the boycott began to unfold. 
NEVER MIND EDSA?
… it’s easier for the Marcos forces to dismiss the significance of EDSA if we remember only the festive four days, the flowers and the confetti and the nuns with rosaries kneeling before tanks … but not the sacrifices of young Filipinos who were fighting back when it wasn’t fashionable and extremely dangerous to do so.
let’s face it, guys. it’s easy for the marcos forces to dismiss the significance of EDSA not because we remember, and celebrate, only the “festive four days” but because all these years later, we still don’t really know, wala pa ring collective sense of, what really happened during those final four days.
something the marcoses are quite happy about, of course. the more magulo the story, the better for them. and so the marcos-ver camp, halimbawa, continues to pedddle the lie that marcos did not issue shoot-to-kill orders, and mainstream and social media continue to be complicit in keeping the lie alive, even when the contrary — marcos gave the kill-order — is duly documented in many publications: while on TV marcos was ordering ver not to shoot, in camp aguinaldo the marines were receiving orders from the palace to fire! bomb camp crame, never mind the civilians. (day 3, EDSA monday, mid-morning)
and what about enrile who from day one EDSA saturday obfuscated about why they had defected, and when accused by marcos of an aborted coup plot, absolutely denied it even if it was true. he lied about it all through the four days and long after, admitting to it only 26 years later, in his 2012 memoir (na sino naman ang nakabasa) but without explaining why he lied.
my theory has always been that admitting to the aborted coup plot would have been to admit that he and RAM wanted himself, and no one else, to replace marcos — and that would have turned off coryistas, especially cory (enrile was ninoy’s jailer). on day two EDSA sunday, when cory returned from cebu, she wanted to call the coryistas to luneta instead but she was dissuaded from doing so as it would have divided the coryistas, the very same ones who were already stopping tanks on ortigas.
i could go on and on about all the things we don’t know yet about those four days — like how sick was marcos really? if he was so sick, why was he still calling the shots? what were the dynamics like with ver, with imelda, with bongbong, with imee and irene, tommy and greggy? who wanted to go, who wanted to stay? was paoay a real option?
but not having answers to those questions does not mean that we don’t know enough about EDSA to glean lessons from it. the mini-EDSAs are almost-as-nothing in the magnificent light of EDSA. if we would only read up, and give it some thought. we ousted marcos, what a feat! what did we do right? what did we do wrong?
because we can actually do it better, as in, note the patterns. level-up the goal/s. upgrade the tactics. but first we need to get a handle on EDSA.
Remembering people power still matters by Bryan Dennis Gabito Tiojanco