Category: media

of “mini-EDSAs” and the inability “to explain” the big one #EDSA’86

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.  [43]


… 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

artists and writers for freedom and democracy, circa 1986

katawatawa that on facebook a statement from duterte apologist rebecca añonuevo and other “concerned writers” supporting SEC’s takedown of rappler has been judged “unoriginal” and “pathetic” — as if the statement by let’s organize for democracy and integrity in support of rappler / press freedom were any less pathetic?  read press freedom for what? press freedom for whom?

worse, anoñuevo daw might as well have re-issued na lang a “pro-dictatorship pro-marcos paid advertisement” of jan 28 1986.  LOL.  obvious naman na pilit na pilit ang paghahalintulad ng dalawang isteytments, the cause of SEC vs. rappler being quite puny in comparison with the cause of COWAFD (pilit na pilit rin ang COWARD, guys, seeing as they were more like losers after the fact).  halata namang ibig lang halukayin (at pahiyain? as if?) ang signatories ng 1986 declaration na mostly luminaries, including national artists no less.  though in either case it would be interesting to see the signatures mismo (even if forgeries are a possibility, too, alas).

but thanks anyway for resurrecting the COWAFD (parang covfefe) declaration that reminds of what it was like 32 years ago in the run-up to the snap elections that paved the way to EDSA.  the ad came out 10 days before the snap elections that had newbie cory aquino with former senator and member of parliament (MP) doy laurel challenging the dictator ferdinand marcos and former senator and MP arturo tolentino for the top posts of the land.

the opening paragraphs are obligatory preliminaries, romanticizing diversity of opinions, claiming openness to “alternative national futures.”  nothing on the joys of censorship, of course, rather, on the need to stand up, and be identified, for the dictator.  or else.  or else?

but the whole of it is a precious artifact, a document of historical interest wherein the best and the brightest, our most privileged of artists and intellectuals in the time of martial law, clearly articulated what exactly they feared about the prospect of cory and doy replacing marcos, AND even dared envision an “enlightened and transformed national leadership” under the marcos-tolentino team.

“When great issues are joined in the life of a people and life-and-death choices present themselves in political terms, the writers and artists must take a stand and must not seek refuge and false comfort in total political anonymity.

“We believe that the special presidential elections on February 7, 1986 present us with one of two choices: to reestablish Philippine democracy on a new and more enduring level, with its guarantees of individual freedom and social responsibility, or to risk a future dominated by the spectre of unending social strike (sic; strife?), hate, vengeance and perhaps a bloody fratricide the ferocity of which has never been known in our history.

“The plain and simple fact is that we, as writers and artists, have serious apprehension about the candidates of the opposition. We are apprehensive about the fact that they have nothing to offer than a dubious promise of sincerity and an even more dubious promise to hand government over to an unidentified cadre of advisers. These are no more than niggardly excuses for a lack of a coherent program of government.

“In view of the crises that threaten the economic security and the cultural serenity of our nation, we can only regard such representation from them as symptomatic of a reluctance to come to grips with reality and an indifference to the need for wisdom and maturity.

“As such, this coalition seeks to preserve what has already been achieved in terms of cultural advancement and to proceed further under an enlightened and transformed national leadership equipped to face the pressures of change and advance our national and spiritual progress. We believe that the leadership of President Ferdinand E. Marcos is out only guarantee for survival at this point.

“Indeed, we believe we can best achieve our national interests and realize our aspirations of writers and artists with the triumph of the Marcos-Tolentino team.”

hindi ko iyan nabasa noong 1986.  my parents and i, and my in-laws, too, were big fans of ninoy (dilawan kami noon) so we must have dropped the hans-menzi-marcos-crony-owned manila bulletin by then in favor of the feisty eggie apostol’s philippine daily inquirer.

at kahit pa nabasa ko ang paid ad na iyan, it wouldn’t have changed my mind about voting for cory and doy.  yes, on sheer faith.  there was no paying attention to marcos shrugging off cory as a mere housewife.  e ano kung walang karanasan, andyan naman si doy, a laurel, tutulungan siya, aalalayan siya.  we were so naive.  on that and a lot more.

but so also were the artists and intellectuals, the best and brightest.  naive.  imagine, promising an “elightened and transformed leadership” under marcos, the only one  “equipped to face the pressures of change and advance our national and spiritual progress.”  even, that he was “the only guarantee for survival” at that point.

parang hindi nila alam na malubha ang sakit ni marcos noon.  even if he had been reelected, unquestionably, in feb 1986, marcos was going to be replaced anyway, if not by enrile with the backing of fvr’s integrated national police (honasan had twice postponed that coup d’etat), then by imelda with the backing of ver’s afp.

parang naniwala rin sila sa sariling propaganda about the nation’s “economic security” (matagal nang bagsak ang ekonomiya, na lalong lumubha nang patayin si ninoy, thanks to capital flight atbp.) and “cultural serenity.”  cultural serenity?  susmaryosep.  jorge arago must have sniggered snickered simpered at that, if he really signed it, that is, and he may have.  at the time he and i were putting out environmentalist junie kalaw’s journal Alternative Futures (Vol. III Decentralization).  i suspect that he was responsible for getting “alternative national futures” into that declaration, maybe an ex-deal for his signature, haha.  he was like that.  for the record.

senate hearing on BBL, good job, migs zubiri!

but shame on mainstream broadcast media — press freedom press freedom kayo diyan tapos walang nag-cover sa TV o radyo! and yet and yet may live coverage ng sereno impeachment hearing sa lower house ang ANC!  ano na.  is this their way of making sipsip to duterte’s supermajority in aid of renewing the network’s franchise in 2020?

but seriously, except for and, online media (mainstream and social, including duterte’s comms peeps and trolls) seem to be ignoring developments on the BBL front.  is it deliberate?  meron bang secret memo vs BBL?  from whom?  AND alam ba ito ng presidente?  just a few days before yesterday’s hearing, duterte practically promised that BBL would be passed ahead of shift to federalism. one would think that enough of a heads-up for media to monitor and report the progress (or not) of the matter.

DAVAO CITY —  The law creating the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be passed this year, ahead of the shift to a federal system of government, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

Duterte told MindaNews in a sit-down interview Friday that the Bangsamoro law should be passed first because “pagka i-amend mo ang Constitution, wala na yan. Wala ka nang barahang ibigay for Mindanao. Mahirapan kang lumusot” (once you amend the Constitution, that’s a goner. You won’t have a card left for Mindanao. It will be difficult to push for its passage).

mabuti na lang at may live streaming from the senate’s website that’s available on youtube, all four hours-plus of it that’s worth checking out if you want to know what certain people and sectors are thinking and saying these days about BBL, given its convoluted and tortuous history.

the jan 23 senate hearing chaired by senator migs (subcommittee bangsamoro, committee on local government) was very well attended, and it was quite a top-notch update on the state of the debate over bangsamoro autonomy.

good of senator migs to ask committee secretary berna mahinay (hope i got her name right) to read out the list of resource persons present, a list i’ve bothered to transcribe if only to show that all sectors were represented.  resource persons were given 3 minutes each to express their sentiments for or against the BBL, in general and/or in particular.

former senate president aquilino “nene” pimentel
hermogenes esperon, national security council)
jesus dureza, presidential adviser onthe peace process
francis tolentino, office of the political adviser
benjamin diokno, department of budget and management (DBM)
nabil tan, deputy adviser on the peace process and chairperson of the GPH implementing panel
tahir lidasan, national commission of muslim filipinos
ricardo david jr., DND undersecretary for defense policy
cesar yano, undersecreatary, defense operations
norman daanoy, chief for legal administrative services
brigadier general raniel t. ramiro, AFP peace and development office
brig general serme ayuyao, judge advocate general
bayani agabin, undersecretary, department of finance (DOF)
ariel ronquillokrunimar escudero, civil service commission
bartolome j sinocruz,  COMELEC commissioner, deputy director for operations
jose lorena, commissioner, bangsamoro transition commission BTC
mussolini lidasan, commissioner BTC
susana anayatin, commissioner BTC
omar yasser sema, commissioner BTC
mohagher iqbal, commissioner BTC
ibrahim ali, commissioner BTC
raissa jajurie, commissioner BTC
said shiek, commissioner BTC
melanio ulama, commissioner BTC
gafur kanain, commissioner BTC
abdul sakur tan, former gov of jolo, sulu
muedzul lail tan kiram, sultan of sulu and north borneo
hadji duma mascud, chairperson of the sign-BBL movement, sustainable initiatives of grassroots and networks for bangsamoro basic law in cotabato city

sultan of lanao firdausi ismail abbas, not on the list, was also present, as was one who spoke in behalf of indigenous people (IP) na hindi ko na mahanap, sorry.

except for one voice calling on moros to assimmilate instead — no one seconded the motion — the vibes were generally quite positive.  there are contentious issues remaining, of course, and senator migs and co. have their work cut out for them, facilitating the reconciliation of differences for the good of the whole.

kapag naipasa ang BBL, lahat tayo ay panalo, hindi lang ang mga moro.  let’s trust our moro brothers and sisters — it’s the only way to stop war and terrorism in mindanao.  let there not be another marawi.  let there not be any more bakwits.  and may our lost media be found.

“press freedom” for what? “press freedom” for whom?

of course i’m all for press freedom, and SEC’s move to “shut down” rappler is dismaying, smacking of resbak at the news site’s anti-duterte stance.  but it’s also discombobulating (if kind of reassuring) that SEC makes an issue of, and takes selective action against, foreign funding of media, which is bawal sa constitution but which duterte’s supermajority in the LOWER house of congress seeks to allow via con-ass / chacha (correct me if i’m wrong).

let’s remind ourselves WHY the constitution bans foreign funding / ownership of media.  read cielito habito’s Fear of foreigners.

Our Constitution completely bars foreign ownership on mass media, while limiting it to 40 percent for public utilities and educational institutions, and 30 percent for advertising. …The common thread among these restrictions is the apparent intent of our charter framers to “protect” Filipinos from being “brainwashed” by foreigners.

but, habito says, that’s for an era long gone:

… vast changes in technology and economic realities have rendered most of those constitutional restrictions obsolete, irrelevant, or even counterproductive. … In this age of information and communication technology and social media, there’s no longer any point to the nationality restriction on mass media, as well as on advertising and education.

What it does is to deprive us of opportunities to attract investments that could bring in capital, jobs and improved technology. Foreign media firms like BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, CNBC and the like could possibly set up a base hub here to draw on certain strengths we have to offer, including in the generation of content with our relative superiority in language and artistic skills. After all, all mass media broadcasting locally, whether Filipino or foreign-owned, are subject to the same inherent power of the government to regulate content and business practices for the common good.

… For a country whose people have made us a “borderless nation” spread all across foreign lands, our seemingly inordinate fear of foreigners sounds rather misplaced.

hmm.  CNNph has been downsizing and, we hear, won’t be around much longer.  and time was when our superiority in english speaking and writing was not “relative” but absolute.  times have changed, indeed, under globalization, but not for the better as far as this always-developing-never-developed third world country of ours is concerned.

here’s a nugget from the comment thread compliments of  !OjO!@hastalavictoriasiempre_ole  

A timely piece indeed, Ciel.

Since you bring up the fear of foreigners, our Japanese friends at JICA often point out that Japan would have ended up like the Philippines had they allowed foreign missionaries, Dominicans and Jesuits alike to infiltrate and destroy their country from Nagasaki inwards. Today, there’s no debate that religion was used as the weapon of choice by our Spanish colonial masters in indoctrinating, conquering and subjugating us. The Japanese were right to persecute the European missionaries who were supplying weapons to various feuding daimyos in order to create internecine wars within Japan, ultimately hoping to pave the way for Europeans to pick Japan apart. Lorenzo Ruiz was just some fictional character unwittingly brought to Japan by the pale devils. Japan was the first country in Asia to industrialize because they had the entire Tokugawa period for nation-building, achieving the westphalian notion of nation-state ahead of everybody else. Had Japan fallen prey to Europeans earlier on, there’s reason to believe that Japan would have been infused with iberian indolence.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s. My son brought two Korean teenage kids home one day, after his teacher requested help with their month-long English immersion program. While waiting for pizza, I offered to play some American movies, expecting they’d choose Independence Day or ID4 in laser disc over the other movies in VHS. To my surprise, both kids with limited English, blurted “American propaganda” almost in unison. As it turned out, Korean students as early as grade school are already taught about the subliminal propaganda employed in Hollywood movies. This is the reason why Korea for a long time had very strict regulations about the entry of foreign cultural products. While they do allow Hollywood movies, Koreans are taught to discern between fact and fiction. And since Korea has distilled the secrets of Hollywood entertainment from propaganda, they were able to use the same secret formula in coming up with their own cultural exports now known as K-wave. One is easily reminded of how easily K-drama easily displaced those latin american telenovelas early in the previous decade. Without a strong core and a strong indigenous Korean culture, coupled with discerning eyes, Korea could have been swamped and inundated by the shortlived J-Pop in those days.

Globalization has brought many benefits, but there’s still no place like home. A weak home country like ours will put us at the losing end of globalization. A weak home country like ours can be easily deluged and overwhelmed by malware and malicious foreign média like Rappler. In terms of nation-building, we are still far behind Vietnam.

so.  press freedom for what nga ba?  for nation-building dapat, yes?  instead, press freedom hereabouts is deployed in the service of vested / capitalist interests (the rich) that rarely, if ever, coincide with the interests of the impoverished masses (the poor).  despite a “free press” since EDSA, the masses continue to be woefully uninformed on important social, political, and economic issues and, therefore, ill-equipped to demand wiser policies and better services of the leaders they elect.

so.  when sal panelo admits that most filipinos don’t understand what the constitution is all about, much less the proposed alternatives, who is to blame for the ignorance?  when most pinoys don’t understand why the president is pushing for BBL or why the lower house ignores him, whose fault is it?  when we don’t understand what senator legarda means when she says that the country has so much money and why none of it trickles down to the larger population and why the masses live such miserable lives, why do we blame only “the educational system” but not mass media for the mass ignorance?

i could go on and on, but let me end with this:  when most pinoys have no idea that in cases of dengue, papaya leaf juice is effective in keeping blood platelet count up (thereby preventing damage to walls of blood vessels, therefore no hemorrhaging) or that it has long been used to stop dengue in its tracks in sri lanka, malaysia, indonesia where they also have locally produced mosquito sprays made of papaya leaf extract as well as capsules and tinctures, what does it say about our DOH and medical professionals — that they all, or their relatives, are in the pay of multinational pharmaceutical giants like sanofi of dengvaxia fame?  obviously there is no money in papaya leaf extract, too many papaya trees everywhere.  but what does it say of our mainstream media — print and broadcast and online — when none of them have the time or inclination to do some research (google it, guys!) and call out the DOH, sabay share such precious info with the public.  perhaps they, too, or their relatives, are in the pay of giant pharmaceuticals? or maybe they’re just plain fanatical about branded western medicine?

so.  really.  when rappler’s ressa says she sought foreign funding “to keep the group free of potential vested interests” she means, i suppose, local oligarchs and political bigshots, pero okay lang ang vested interests ng global oligarchs and multinational bigshots?  i wonder if the same attitude obtains in other media outfits like gma 7, abs-cbn, vera files, pcij, and cmfr that are, like rappler i hear, mostly foreign-funded.

so much for “press freedom.”