post EDSA: what happened to gen. tadiar

last feb 28, after reading doronila’s and de quiros’s inquirer columns of the day, i wrote a letter to the editor saying that they were only partly right, attributing EDSA to the courage of the people on the streets; the same with former president fvr who attributed it to the split military.   i pointed out that they neglected to give credit to the loyalist marines general artemio tadiar and colonel braulio balbas who were given the kill-order but defied their superiors.   i said they were the unsung heroes of EDSA and they were more heroic than the soldiers who defected and then hid behind the skirts of nuns and other civilians.

inquirer published it eight days later with the title Edsa I’s unsung heroes more heroic than defectors.   three days later i got an email from glenn tadiar, son of gen. tadiar, thanking me for the kind words and relating what happened to his father post-EDSA.   i asked if i could post his response in my blog and he said yes, but on second thought i suggested he send it first to the inquirer, they just might publish it, and i would post it then.   it’s been 16 days, and inquirer might never publish it – medyo di na uli uso ang EDSA stories — so here it is.   thanks again, glenn.

Dear Ms. Stuart-Santiago,

I would like to thank you for your kind words regarding my father”s actions in your letter that appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 09, 2011. Twenty five years ago on this date, my father was at our assigned quarters in Fort Bonifacio on the tenth or eleventh day of his house arrest, ordered by then General Ramos. His decision to not follow the orders given to him on the second day of the Edsa Revolution, the decision to not throw in his lot with the rebels, the decision to continue serving President Marcos in a defensive manner, the decision to order Col. Balbas back to Fort Bonifacio on the third day all must have sat heavily in his mind as he contemplated what appeared to be the end of his professional military career.

For me, it was heartbreaking to see him so but what solace or comfort could a 17 year old son offer him during those dark times? What followed was eight months of house arrest punctuated by investigations by the PCGG hatchet men due to my father’s perceived close ties with President Marcos. Did they find anything out of the ordinary? Apparently not for he was later on given a new posting as the Deputy Commander, Subic Naval Base Command in October. He knew deep down that his career was essentially over since this posting was a dead end in the AFP. One thing I love about him was, despite being given a basket of lemons, instead of being sour or bitter about it, he went on to make lemonade and enjoyed his six years at this post interacting with his counterparts in the US Armed Forces, playing regular golf games many times a week at the world class golf course in Binictican and looking out for the welfare of all those assigned to his command.

When he was promoted to Brigadier General in 1984, he was one of the youngest Generals in the AFP. By the time of his retirement in December 1992, he was one of the oldest Brigadier Generals having served the longest time “in grade”. If he had any bitterness or disappointment that many officers junior to him went on to higher positions and rank than himself, he did not show it but what man would not have a little something in his heart? One thing he could be proud of was that he was the only officer of flag rank promoted by Marcos to have survived the purges of the Aquino administration. They could find nothing.

Thank you again for pointing out something that most have already forgotten. My dad was a hero.

God bless you and yours.

Respectfully yours,

Glenn Tadiar


  1. manuelbuencamino

    I don’t now what to think. Tadiar cannot be accused of being a blind loyalist because he disobeyed a direct order – shoot to kill – from his commander in chief.

    At the same time, he did not cast his lot with the rebels or with the people. I make a distinction between the rebels and the people because they were not on the same page insofar as their intentions for overthrowing Marcos is concerned. The former were simply for a power grab while the latter were for restoring democracy and civilian rule.

    From your account and his son’s letter, it seems like Tadiar walked a very narrow path. He drew the line on killing innocent civilians but he did not cut-off his ties to the man who ordered him to do it.

    But I don’t fault him for not joining the military mutiny. Those few days were iffy at best. What if the RAM won and imposed a military dictatorship instead of backing down and making way for the restoration of democracy?

    So the question to me is not Tadiar’s hesitation, if that word is appropriate, but what he did after civilian supremacy and democracy was restored. Did he recommit himself to democracy and civilian supremacy or did he participate in those RAM coup attempts?

    Sayang that Tadiar did not write a personal account of what was going on inside him during those fateful days. I am sure he was not the only military man who faced that kind of a dilemma.

    • ignacio v. illenberger

      General Temy was my brigade commander in Davao City in 1983, I was the Navy intelligence officer seconded to him. He foresaw the nature of the events except that it was at EDSA and with a shifting of loyalties. Gen. Temy was our defense attache to London for a long time that he first became the doyen (dean) of the AFP defense attaches to Europe and later the doyen of the military attaches to U.K. He was also a keen student of politico-military history. My intelligence briefings for him was always around mid-night when all the days work of his staff were already done. After the briefing, the two of us would often talk into the early hours of the morning. He said that when you have cast your lot, stand by them as far as they don’t cross the line over which the very fabric of the institution you represent is violated. Along the way, you have to play with so many imponderables but you must not hesitate to act if the opportunity presents itself. But, I remember him saying that you must “Never, never become a butcher of the very people who have given you your mandate”. To my mind, when JPE and FVR were holed up armed at the DND building, they were pure and simple mutineers. Blowing them up to ashes was within military law. When Gen. Temy’s request for clearance to act was denied by Malacanang that opportunity was lost. When the mutineers transferred to Camp Crame under protection of People Power, the AFP lost its mandate to act. When I visited him for the last time at Subic, one of the most profound recollections of him was his saying “I would not hesitate to destroy mutineers, but I will not allow myself to be branded by posterity as The Butcher of EDSA, and neither will I allow my Marines to go down with me in ignominy”. When I asked him if he thought, the historical audience knew of his stand, he said it was not his burden but theirs and that it will be posterity that will be his judge. The lesson of EDSA was not lost to succeeding military commanders. When Gringo Honasan holed up armed at Hqs, Philippine Army, then CG PA, MGen Rodolfo Canieso asked Gringo to surrender only once, then started up lining up howitzers towards HPA. Canieso then simply told Gringo “Prepare to die” and started loading the howitzers. Gringo capitulated. When Temy was evacuated to Makati Med for advanced signs of cerebral aneurism, we were told that he refused to be operated upon saying that the quality of life would not be the same after the surgery. Did Temy, hesitate at EDSA? That would have been contrary to his very nature and his commitment to a value system. In closing, let me share another of his early morning teachings: “Minions lay their lives on the line following orders, Generals are executed for giving those orders”. A coral reef in his honor would be in keeping with the nature of Gen. Temy, the man and the Marine. BGen. Ignacio V. Illenberger (Ret).

      • gen. ignacio v. illenberger, thank you so much for this. that part of the edsa story really needs to be told via testimonies like this. i wonder if you know what happened to colonel braulio balbas, who also refused to fire on crame monday morning from camp aguinaldo. no one seems to know, or cares to tell.

        • ignacio v. illenberger

          Angela, Braulio Balbas, the Marine, retired as general and Commander, Western Command, AFP. The last time I saw him was in L.A. in 1995. As retirees, we have have been looking forward to meeting him again, but so I have not heard from him. Gen. Balby was of the same mold as Gen. Temy. The difference was that Temy was a mentor while Balby was a Marine of few words. When the Marines were deployed to contain the EDSA affair, “the die is cast” so to speak. Everyone knew how act given the agreed set of criteria. There was that poignant photo of nuns among the EDSA crowd giving the crew of a Marine armored vehicle flowers while the a smiling Marine extending a plastic bottle of water in exchange – a symbolism of human nature at its best!

          • ignacio v. illenberger

            Angela. The guidance was “The King is dead, long live the King”. When Marcos left, the Marines promptly marched out of Malacanang back to Marine Barracks Fort Bonifacio – our home – to await orders from the new civil authority. There was a short period of re-adjustment, the politically correct term for “loyalty check”. When the new powers-that-be realized that the Marines acted with propriety, they were re-instated back to the mainstream, Col Braulio Balbas included.

  2. Glenn Tadiar

    Just a reply to Mr. Buencamino’s comment.

    “So the question to me is not Tadiar’s hesitation, if that word is appropriate, but what he did after civilian supremacy and democracy was restored. Did he recommit himself to democracy and civilian supremacy or did he participate in those RAM coup attempts?”

    He never had to recommit himself to democracy because he never lost it. He never took part in any of the RAM coup attempts either. He retired from the service in December 1992 after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56. For your information.

  3. manuelbuencamino

    Thanks for that info, Glen.

    Did your father write a memoir? I would love to read it if he did because his thoughts during those crucial days would add immensely to what we’ve read about EDSA. Did he share those thoughts with you?

  4. Glenn Tadiar

    Hi Manuel. Unfortunately, the answer would be a no to both questions. Like most people, he did have plans of doing so but did not anticipate he would pass away quite so early.

  5. Nanduon ako sa harap ng “tsimayk” (higanteng personel carrier yata) na tinatayuan ni Gen Tadiar nung araw sa kanto ng Ortigas, tapat ng Gale na ngayon. pinakikiusapan nya na kumalas na ang mga tao sa harap ng tangke, disperse sa Ingles. walang tumitinag. tapos pinaandar na ang tanke, parang lindol ang ingay ng tsimayk at dagundong/kalog ng daang semento. nagsiluhuran na mga taong nasa harap, kasama ang mga madre. sabi ko sa sarili ko, eto na yatang katapusan ko. matagal na umandar, naghihintay na lanag kami na managasa. pagkatapos, tumigil ang makina ng tangke. hindi nagpatuloy sagasaan ang mga tao. e di selebrasyon. isip ko nung mga oras na yun… palabiro si Gen.Tabak. kumalas na pala kay Makoy pero nagpatawa muna.

    • ignacio v. illenberger

      Angela. “Tsimayk” is the Taglish for Chemite. Chemite was one of the American Indian tribes that fought tenaciously during the so-called Indian Wars. Chemite was the name given to the armored vehicle V-105 of the Marines. They were manufactured by Cadillac Gage. The Chemite was intimidating in that it was a fairly large armoured vehicle that was fast and nimble. The Chemite was deployed during the EDSA 1986 together with the gargantuan LVTs.

  6. Cynthia Sta. Maria Baron

    Dear Angela:

    We would be honored if you could attend the launching of Remembering EDSA 1986, a revised edition of Nine Letters: The Story of the 1986 Filipino Revolution. The revised edition is the same book with an added chapter of character sketches of Filipinos who were part of the struggle against the Marcos regime.

    We are indebted to you and your own well-researched EDSA books that provided us with a lot of “inside” information of what happened those four days.

    In fact, we wrote about the late Gen. Tadiar’s role that I think would please his son Glenn.

    We apologize for the rather short notice–we didn’t know how to reach you. The launch is at Bahay Kalinaw inside the UP campus between the Protestant chapel and Ilang-Ilang dorm at 5pm April 27 next Wednesday. Thank you!


    Cynthia and Melba

    ps We put up a website but has been temporarily disconnected because someone (a Marcos loyalist, perhaps?) hacked into it. For now, you can read more about the book in the facebook page:!/pages/Remembering-EDSA-1986/180394578672630

  7. John Melvin


    I knew your father when I was stationed at Subic and he was a very fine man. I went on a few “Pilgrimages” with him when he would visit the surrounding PhilMar outposts and it was obvious that he was loved and respected by all. It was an honor for me to know him.

    John Melvin
    CDR, USNR (Ret)

  8. Phitz Enojo

    Thank you so much for sharing. My mom belongs to SUHS Class ’54 same as your dad.At the height of EDSA I was your age and didn’t have quite a grasp of what was happening. All I can remember was my mom telling us to pray for General Tadiar and that his Christian values as a Sillimanian will prevail. I salute him for it. Am the speaker for the SUHS 2013 passage rite and am using him as an example.His motto in his high school year book was “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” God Bless!