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?
In 2014 Caroline Hau and J. Paul Manzanilla asked Katrina and me to write an essay each for the anthology Remembering / Rethinking EDSA (Anvil Publishing, 2016). We have since published the two essays as a zine for #BLTX and, on this 31st anniversary, I am posting mine here (in 7 parts), and Katrina hers at radikalchick.com.
It started out as a sequence guide for a TV docu that Ishmael Bernal and Marilou Diaz-Abaya would direct and Jorge Arago would write in the vein of “the forces of Good versus the forces of Evil” a la Star Wars. This was in March 1986 when it seemed a simple and straightforward story to tell: Marcos cheated in the snap elections, Cory launched a non-violent protest, Enrile and Ramos defected with a small military force, Marcos accused them of a coup aborted, Cardinal Sin called on the people to shield the rebel camps, Marcos’s soldiers disobeyed orders to ram tanks through a sea of praying people, and two days later the dictator fled. A miracle? A military coup? A CIA operation? As it turned out, none of the above.
BETWEEN the pro-mining students protesting against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials, and the insistence that we talk only about the jobs to be lost and the stock market crash, it is clear that we are being distracted from the more important questions about whether or not the mining projects that the DENR has ordered closed have in fact been bad for the environment and our communities.