Late October, I was bracing myself for a final stretch of sustained work, taking in Bosworth and the latest from Enrile (even if only for the endnotes), when Elmer Ordoñez emailed and gave me something else to think about. An invitation to speak as panelist in Philippine PEN’s conference come December, endorsed by PEN Chair Bien Lumbera; I could speak on Enrile’s memoir if I wanted, in a panel on social commentary. The overall theme: The Writer as Public Intellectual. I had no such illusion. But the writer as social commentator, yes, and the opportunity to speak out on history and memoirs and truth-telling proved irresistible. It was a different kind of writing, of course, an essay for reading out loud. It was a first for me, as it was a first foray into literati territory. Butterflies aside, I had a blast, thank you!
On my reading of the four days’ events – that it was the presence of the people in EDSA in huge numbers waving Cory’s colors and ready to die defying the dictator that forced Cory (widow of Ninoy) and Enrile (jailer of Ninoy) to reconcile their differences and join forces which, in turn, brought about the ouster of Marcos – well, no one has disputed it to this day. Late in 2000 my brother Butch uploaded a digital version of Himagsikan on his website stuartxchange.com. Not too long after, historian and scholar Reynaldo Ileto emailed, congratulating me on my EDSA essays, he thought I was on track. I had met Rey in ’86 at the height of the snap election campaign, when he visited my mother for permission to photocopy the first volume of my Lola Concha’s “Fragmentos de Mi Juventud”  covering friar times, the 1896 Revolution, and the Fil-Am War. I was thrilled to meet him then, and to find each other on the Web 14 years after.
Meanwhile, thinking to spread the word to the tabloid-reading masses via a newsprint edition, I had started translating the chronology into Tagalog early in 1997. When it was announced that the National Centennial Commission was sponsoring a literary contest to commemorate the 1898 Revolution, I shifted to essay mode, time to give credit where credit was due. I ignored warnings that my kind of Tagalog (I had written columns for the short-lived Diyaryo Filipino, 1989-1990, and experimented with Taglish in Isyu, 1995-’96), lightly peppered with English words as well as street slang that have become part of the vernacular, might not meet with the judges’ approval. The urge, nay, the challenge, was to write in a prose that was easy to read and understand.
By October, I was still fine-tuning the sequence of events and had long given up on the 10th anniversary that was just four months away. But in November, serendipity struck. Tia Nita, then based in Denmark, was in Manila for a visit; she phoned with the news that her friend Eggie was looking for material on EDSA 1986, gave me Eggie’s address, and urged me to send at once a copy of my work. I agonized over the title; “Chronology of a Revolution” hadn’t worked for FVR. After consulting my brother Louie, I sent the manuscript off with the title “Compendium of a Revolution,” which of course didn’t work either. National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin, who later wrote a rave Foreword, told Eggie to change the title to Chronology of a Revolution. Why not, indeed.
My next aha! moments were in 1991 during and after close encounters with then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos. He was running for president in 1992 and his people were looking for a writer to put together a biography, was I interested? I said yes, if I could also ask him about EDSA; I sent them forthwith a copy of my work titled “Chronology of a Revolution” that had grown to slim-book proportions after I had taken in data from six more books, including Worth Dying For (1987) by Lewis M. Simon. According to Simon, Enrile badly needed Ramos to defect along with him that Saturday afternoon. I wanted to know if Ramos knew this, and if he knew about the aborted coup, and why it took him some three, four, hours to join Enrile in Camp Aguinaldo; was it true that he hesitated because Ferdinand was family?
By October 1986, I had sifted through four snap books: People Power by Patricio Mamot, The Quartet of the Tiger Moon by Quijano de Manila, People Power: An Eyewitness History edited by Monina Allarey-Mercado, and Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Four Day Revolution by Cecilio T. Arillo. The last gave me pause. A journalist known to be an Enrile man, Arillo had new stories of goings-on inside the rebel camps and in Fort Bonifacio and the Palace, and even, of how, before the defection, the Reformists had planned to take action and prevent a Marcos inauguration, practically contradicting, in a convoluted way, Enrile’s denial of the aborted coup plot that Marcos had accused him of from the first night of EDSA. Surely the publication had Enrile’s stamp of approval or Arillo wouldn’t have dared?