Category: john nery

fact-checking EDSA 86

john nery is right, in People Power in Hieroglyphics, master writer teddy locsinrambles and, incredibly, has nothing good to say about EDSA 1, not the people, not the tanks, not even cory.

On the 25th anniversary of People Power in the Philippines, we who stood before immobile tanks, most without gasoline or lacking spare parts, tanks with no intention of running anyone over; we who would have scattered to the four winds at the first shot should (sic); we should bow our heads if not in shame then in tribute to the first truly people power revolution in history.

there’s an editing error there, but like nery says in Fact-checking people power:

This idea carries two assertions of fact that can be checked against the historical record: that Marcos’ tanks had “no intention of running anyone over,” and the people at the intersection of Edsa and Ortigas “would have scattered to the four winds at the first shot.” The effect is again to diminish the significance of Edsa, and specifically of the crucial encounter on Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Edsa and Ortigas avenue between the tanks and a crowd of unarmed, praying civilians.

exactly my sentiments.   thanks, john : (ehem)

Fortunately, there are many sources we can use to fact-check the events of Edsa 1986, and my retelling. First on my list would be Angela Stuart Santiago’s Edsa 1986: The Original People Power Revolution, accessible to anyone with an Internet connection at This wonderful resource is essentially a chronology of the revolution, stitched together out of the many accounts (from periodicals and published books, plus a few personal interviews) that came pouring out after Edsa. It has its limitations; its use of excerpts assumes the same level of credibility for the various sources, but surely (to give only one example) Stanley Kramer’s “In Our Image” is a problematic account. Also, in its attempt to pay tribute to the masses, to the people in “people power,” it minimizes its coverage of the rampant use of religious, specifically Marian, symbols that filled Edsa like votive candles. But it is the place to start. (There is a companion work, “Walang Himala: Himagsikan sa Edsa,” also available online.)

yes, i realize how unpopular karnow and In Our Image are with pinoy scholars, so i actually used him sparingly and only when his facts were supported by other sources.  i wouldn’t have used him even; my first chronology’s sources were purely pinoy, but my publishers wanted foreign titles, too. about minimizing coverage of “the rampant use of religious, specifically Marian, symbols that filled Edsa like votive candles,” actually what i minimized, deliberately, were accounts that waxed miraculous about the four days, attributing the success of people power solely to divine providence. as for Himagsikan sa EDSA: Walang Himala (the correct title, but nonoy marcelo played around with it sa layout of the cover), yes, a companion piece that’s an updated chronology, but also an essay that attempts to draw conclusions and give credit where credit is due.   i wrote it in tagalog for wider readership, but have since realized, been told, that i should write it in english because the elite, and most of the media, the movers of philippine society, who might read at all don’t read tagalog at all, so i have this english version (of which The Original People Power Revolution is the intro but the body is the same manuscript posted on which has the original intro and foreword by nick joaquin) that’s just waiting for a closing chapter (when i’ve finished my lola’s book, soon soon soon) , but which needs updating, given recent (better late than never) accounts by the rebel military that belie their first soundbites during and after EDSA 1, which is part of the history na rin.  complicated talaga. incidentally, since this is about fact-checking, cannot not comment on nestor mata‘s ‘Dumbest myths’ (1) in today’s malaya, where he quotes from carmen guerrero nakpil’s Exeunt(2010):

“As a conspiracy of American foreign and economic policy-makers and Filipino politicians, business, the clergy, dissidents of all persuasions, EDSA succeeded because it removed a common enemy, Ferdinand Marcos, from the scheme of things.”

it’s an old story whose other proponent is the tribune’s herman tiu laurel, who has written a lot of columns to the effect that EDSA was orchestrated by the americans. not true.   EDSA was a purely filipino operation.   if they tried to orchestrate anything it was that RAM take over the armed forces, but even the americans must have doubted that the people would take it sitting down, enrile preempting cory.   ronald reagan’s trouble-shooter philip habib knew that something was brewing but he failed to get a handle on it.   they knew about the coup plans for sunday but they were as surprised as marcos and ver when enrile and ramos, backed by RAM, defected on saturday. the defection (day 1) caught the americans napping, people power (day 2) knocked them out.   it was already day 3, the battle was practically won, when the americans finally intervened in earnest, and only in the matter of marcos’s exit, and only when marcos through tommy manotoc asked the u.s. embassy for help. intelligence reports from the CIA may have helped the rebels during the four days, but if the Americans had completely stayed out of it, EDSA would have happened anyway, and it may have ended more decisively, maybe with marcos answering for his crimes in philippine courts.

rizal, tagalog, nation

it’s really too bad that we haven’t tried hard enough as a people to develop tagalog into a national language.   then maybe we would have a better sense of national interests as opposed to foreign interests, and we could be making decisions among ourselves first before outsiders with vested interests start weighing in.

read Rizal’s open secrets by john nery.   rizal and del pilar in their correspondence 1889 to 1890 turned from spanish to tagalog for a “layer of privacy”, “to wrap something in (or bind themselves to) secrecy”, and “to forge a unity of purpose” at a time when “the question of language was becoming more and more central to their attempt to found a nation.”

read too dr. pablo s. trillana III‘s Rizal and leadership.

mai, oh, mai, ricky carandang!

i have a good friend who used to be in mainstream media who is now with the malacanang news desk, coloma bloc, and the day he texted me the good news of his appointment was the last time we had a text exchange initiated by him.

a day or so after the august 23 bloodbath i texted him, fishing for info as to what else the president was up to that long afternoon and evening, just between him and me, just for my info, promise promise promise, and all i got was the official line, nothing more, nothing less.

needless to say, my respect for him has levelled up many notches, especially in the wake of the stupidly insolent irresponsible impertinent tweets of presidential speechwriter mai mislang, carandang bloc, while in vietnam with the president.

it bears pointing out that mislang was also in new york with the president last september and that we didn’t hearof any offensive tweets.   bakit kaya?   because the wine was great?   the traffic was painless?   the guys were guwapo?   tweetless as in speechless lang siya in america the beautiful?

or was it because she was the only one of the carandang group in new york, it was so soon after boss ricky’s major major aug23 booboos, so she was on her best behavior?   but what does this say about her bastos behavior in vietnam?   she was a different person because vietnam is third world, and maybe because boss ricky came too, hindi siya nag-iisa, and they were having a blast and maybe just maybe they brought out the bastos instead of the best in each other?

because, really, i’m amazed that carandang didnt have the sense to shut her up at “sucks”.   instead nakipagsagutan pa siya.   the same with ces drilon, who i’m surprised didn’t have the sense to shut them both up.   to top it all, carandang says he still has to figure out what to do about his tweeting darling, i mean, underlings, ano ba yan!   so he stops everyone from tweeting and/or blogging kahit wala namang nagkakalat kundi si mislang.

carandang must have loved john nery’s piece on the Unfortunate Case of the Wine that Sucked:

One journalist whose work I admire said Mislang should have resigned—as though the offense had led to a major diplomatic crisis. I don’t think I am being inaccurate when I say this journalist’s opinion was widely shared. Mislang has since apologized, and apparently the offending tweets have been removed. But I still see the occasional comment, tsk-tsking the blunder and asking for blunderer’s head.

When, I would like to know, did my profession adopt the one-strike policy? There is no question that Mislang’s tweets were bad diplomacy, but when did it reach the level of official policy, serious enough to merit expulsion from government? Mislang, whom I do not know from Eve, is not in the foreign service, where her kind of jejune comment would have had severe implications for her career; granted, she works for President Aquino’s communications group, where the cardinal rule ought to be not to become news. Perhaps the appropriate sanction would have been a reprimand, and a decision to leave her out of official delegations in the future. Butresignation? For expressing an opinion that the host government did not consider offensive?

tsk tsk, john nery, what makes you think that the host government did not find any of it offensive?   yes, we haven’t heard any reactions from the vietnamese but that doesn’t tell me they weren’t offended; more likely they’re just more civilized and sophisticated than we are — the french influence, no doubt — why stoop to our level?   big mistake to think that it hasn’t affected / deepened / sharpened, and negatively, their opinion of us as a people.   big mistake to think they don’t care if mislang is fired, or resigns, or not.   i bet they do care, and they’re watching, and waiting.   what goes around will come around.   one day, one way or another (as with hong kong / china) there will be repercussions, that could go from bad to worse, depending on whether or not they see a head or two rolling.

dapat lang, one mistake and you’re out.   no second chances.   the hell with learning curves for anyone who wasn’t elected.   learn the ropes elsewhere.   the presidency is the highest and most important office in the land.   the president needs, should have, professionals around him, not bumbling amateurs and overrated kids who have no sense of delicadeza and who are so full of themselves, they’ve become national embarrassments.


read too:

Propriety means never having to say you’re sorry / The internet is forever / The wine will always suck by karen cardenas.

The Mai Mislang Whinery by boo chanco.

Tweet made Carandang look like a twit by ilda.