Category: ninoy


the last time i marched was on the day after ninoy’s funeral, to liwasang bonifacio for an anti-marcos rally. it was the first gathering of leftists and yellow peeps since the assassination and, if memory serves, marcos’s metrocom was nowhere to be seen. just the same, medyo mahigpit ang security, every group marshalling its own ranks, for fear, i supposed, of infiltrators who might make trouble.  gigi duenas (de beaupre), an old friend from u.p. basement days, and i found each other early on, neither of us with any particular group, and so we mostly moved around as speeches were made.  we squatted (literally) by the leftists for a while — i remember nelia sancho, seated on the ground, may baong lata ng skyflakes.  but the yellow brigades, there was no joining them, no getting past their marshals, even if i was wearing a yellow top, and that was disappointing.

when it was over gigi and i walked all the way back to metromag (central bank bldg) where we found marita manuel, ishmael bernal, marilou diaz-abaya, and jorge arago hanging around the backdoor steps of the met museum watching marchers walk by.  heto na ang mga aktibista, sey nila in welcome.

i don’t know that i’m still up to a march in these my lola days (daze), but see you on august 26.  scrap all pork barrel in all its incarnations!


august 21, 1983

It had been three years since Ninoy first declared that the Filipino is worth dying for, and he proved it on the 21st of August 1983 when he came home, was escorted off the plane by Marcos’s military, and assassinated in broad daylight, allegedly by an ex-convict.

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 movement and Radio Veritas the voice of the opposition. Veritas, owned and operated by the Catholic Church, was the only 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. 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 [you are not alone]!”

from the chapter “EDSA Roots, Marcos Times” of EDSA UNO, A Narrative and Analysis with Notes on Dos & Tres to be launched September 1, if the heavens permit.

The Day Manila Fell Silent

By Ninotchka Rosca

Ironically, the most quiet day in Manila of contemporary times began with noise: a loud pounding on the glass door of a penthouse apartment I was using at the time. The friend who was hollering and shouting and bruising his knuckles on the glass, blurted out, as soon I slid the door open, “martial law na…[martial law already]” A split second of silence; then I pivoted and clicked on the radio. Nothing but white noise. Turned on the TV. Nothing but a white screen and static. Distraught friend said, “no TV, no radio station… everything’s closed down.” We eyeballed each other. The previous night’s last news item on TV flashed into my mind: a still photo of a car, its roof collapsed, windshield shattered; a male voice saying that the car of the Secretary of National Defense had been attacked but he had not been in it… It was truncated news; I thought, “what? An empty car was bombed?” As I was going to bed, I noticed that the government building behind our apartment building was all lit up: floor after floor, from top to bottom, blazing with lights. I said then, “something’s happening; and it’s happening all over the city.”

Read on…

robredo, the aquinos, and the commission on appointments

that DILG sec jesse robredo’s body was finally found on august 21, the same day that ninoy aquino was felled by a bullet 29 years ago, is not to be discounted.  synchronicity.  in both cases, the loss to family and community and nation is heartbreaking.  i don’t know that ninoy or robredo would have made a great president if either had lived long enough to make it, but i would have liked to have seen them give it their best efforts.  can’t say the same of anyone else in the public eye today.

i didn’t know him personally and i didn’t follow his political life closely.  the one time i really paid attention to him was in the aftermath of the august 23 luneta massacre, when he was explaining that not he but presidential buddy rico puno had been in charge of police operations that fateful day.  i wondered then why he accepted the post, the president’s distrust was obvious, it was like ginagamit lang siya na pabango.

but i knew that many were rooting for him.  on facebook, political analyst malou tiquia of publicus asia has been sharing stories of the robredo she knew.

In 2005, Harvey Keh-full and I dreamt of putting two bright stars in local government together for a stab in national politics in 2007. Jesse Robredo was one of the two. We had discussions with him several times. Harvey Keh went on to establish Kaya Natin with Jesse. I went on to other campaigns but kept an eye on a man I believe has what it takes. In between those years, we met several times. When he needed to talk to me, I was always there for him, for I believed in Jesse. Always have and always will. Our last heart to heart and one-on-one meet was in January 2012. The last time i talked to him over the cell was August 8. I am crushed by the news of what happened to my friend. I recall telling him on several instances, “Jesse, you just don’t walk away from it…” Jesse would always say, “I can always walk away from it all, Malou…” Si Jesse, simple, disente at ang puso ay nasa tamang lugar…  [Sunday 19 August]

I will cherish the debates we had from the time I visited you in Naga some 7 years back to convince you to run for the Senate. I never got your yes. I went back to Manila with a heavy heart but decided that I will convince you again, this time for a much higher position. For when you said no, I knew in my heart I have found the person…

I was always pointed, sometimes livid, sometimes crossing the line. The last time we had a long talk, I asked you, why do you allow yourself to be treated by these people just like that. You stared at me and smiled. And you said, “Bayaan mo na yan, Malou…”

I even told you to fix your barong, your hairstyle, etc. saying further that you are now a national figure, and again you smiled and I remember you saying, “Pati ba naman yan, Malou?” and I said, “Yes, Jesse, thats part of it.” But you laughed and said “Hindi naman tayo tumataas sa survey.” And I remember saying, “Because you don’t use your assets as SILG.” That was the longest pause we’ve ever had in our conversations and you stared straight at me…then you said, “Trabaho na lang tayo, Malou…”

Jesse Robredo, I will always cherish our conversations. I will hold on to that dream, I will try to follow your path where better angels dare not go. In you I lost a leader, a mentor, a friend, and my candidate for that position only Destiny smiles kindly on. Rest in Peace, my friend…  [Tuesday 21 August]

it’s all good, consistent with what we’re hearing from mainstream media.  it would seem that robredo does deserve a state funeral for a life well-lived, embracing public service and embodying good governance, against all odds.

still, it’s medyo over-kill, yellow ribbons to boot.  the palace should not be surprised that its motives are being questioned, kahit pa sinasabing the prez had come to appreciate robredo over time.  close na close sila, say ni mar roxas, when he was trying to explain why the prez had flown to masbate to oversee rescue operations himself.  the same is implied in stories about the commission on appointments’ failure to confirm robredo’s appointment to the cabinet: the president finally submitted robredo’s name for confirmation only in november 2011.

to be honest, i was one of those who wondered why robredo had had to give that speech for the president, that is, why the president had not attended the affair himself.  it was the topic of heated exchanges on twitter and facebook, in particular over ar neil villanueva’s comments to the effect that if the president had gone to cebu himself, then maybe binay would be president now.  at which palace spokesman lacierda lashed out: Words cannot describe your supreme uncouthness & insensitivy 2 d Pres. and Sec Robredo. Do not wish death upon others.

today, lacierda said on tv that it was not a last-minute decision, that it was decided last july pa that robredo would be attending the pnp ground-breaking in consolacion, cebu in the place of the president.  ah so.  if true, then my question is, was this par for the course?  the president did not attend many of these events, sent robredo instead?  or was this a rare occurrence, the president just had something more important to do for nation?  the first is more nakaka-guilty than the last.

seeking answers to questions like this, to my mind, is not to make the president look bad —  if it does, he should be able to roll with the punches, weather the bad press — but to make it easier for the loved ones of robredo, the youngest daughter in particular who is blaming herself for her father rushing home.  the commenter was half right.  if the president had gone to cebu himself, robredo would still be alive, or at least he would not have died in a plane crash when he did.  aquino, too, might have insisted on flying out that afternoon, but he would surely have been provided a safer aircraft and would surely have had a safer trip than robredo, who apparently had to fend for himself.  it’s not always true na pag-oras-mo-na-oras-mo-na.  sometimes napapaaga rin lang.

as for the legislator members of the powerful commission on appointments, now under censure for failing to confirm robredo’s appointment while he was alive, and scrambling for the “honor” to appoint him now that he’s dead — i don’t believe any of them.  from tito sotto who said over radio that it was the president who did not submit robredo’s name, to  luis villafuerte who denies having stood in the way, to loren legarda who says robredo met with her saturday morning to seek her support for his confirmation.  ALL THAT is what needs confirmation.  and if confirmed, then what changed the CA’s mind?  the threat/rumors that ping lacson would replace robredo?  do tell, rep. villafuerte.  do tell, senator legarda.