Stalking EDSA — Multiple EDSAs


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 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” [1978] 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.

In 2001 after Edsa Tres, we exchanged emails on Dos and Tres, “pale reflections” of the original, he said, and I agreed.  I wished that the People had known more about EDSA Uno, the better, the more wisely, to navigate those four days.  In Edsa Dos, for instance, the People might have known to make sure that Erap was abandoning not only the Palace but all claims to the presidency; and that four-day deadline was silly, to put it bluntly. In Tres the People might have known better than to allow sour-graping politicians to goad them into violent attack-the-palace mode; and that blackout by mainstream broadcast media was shameful, to say the least.

And so I thought maybe I’d write an English edition of Himagsikan and wrap it up with my take on Dos and Tres.  Just one more book. Of course it took me forever, that is, another 12 years, to come up with EDSA Uno, A Narrative and Analysis with Notes on Dos & Tres [2013]. In 2002 Anvil published Nita Umali Berthelsen’s Tayabas Chronicles: The Early Years (1886-1907), a lightly fictionalized version of her mother’s, my grandmother’s, life story in historic times. The next one was mine, Tia Nita said at the launch, and I plunged into that, too, writing Revolutionary Routes: Five Stories of Incarceration, Exile, Murder, and Betrayal in Tayabas Province 1891-1980 [2011], a book on family and country. I would shift from one to the other as the spirit moved me.

Meanwhile, everytime an EDSA anniversary rolled around, I’d check out the Web in case someone was saying anything that was new to my chronology. In 2007 son Joel built me a blog,, and I started doing political commentary on the side, perfect for quick breaks from the book projects, and every February I would post a piece, usually on the state of EDSA discourse, or to challenge the usual fictions (Marcos did not give the kill-order, Cory was not even in EDSA, Enrile should not have given way to Cory) with the facts, over and over, to the point of plagiarizing myself, as I must be doing here.  In 2011 Joel built a site for the original manuscript of the chronology,, with Mang Nick’s Foreword and an essay on growing up with EDSA by daughter Katrina. In February 2012 Manolo Quezon – already in Malacañang – tweeted the link: an excellent timeline, he said.

I was updating and fine-tuning my sequence of events until the very end.  In February 2012 I was ecstatic over Interaksyon Online’s “Listen to History: The Veritas/Radyo Bandido Broadcasts – February 22-25 1986.” Finally, the exact time of Cardinal Sin’s first broadcast over Veritas, 10:40 PM, not “around 9 PM” as most early reports said; and confirmation that only in his second broadcast, at the stroke of midnight, when people were already marching to EDSA, did the Cardinal echo Butz’s call for non-violent action.  Oh, and I found a precious interview of FVR by the EDSA Stories Project [2011] on YouTube, where he says, “’Ika nga ng isang well-known author ng EDSA history, ang conclusion niya ay, Walang himala!… ‘Yon ang katotohanan.” Good of him, even if he couldn’t quite name me (maybe I have yet to be forgiven for the Arenas interview).  Anyway, I meant to mention it in EDSA Uno the book but simply forgot in the frenzy of production.

I was thinking a February 2013 launch. By mid-2012 I had a foreword from activist feminist Ninotchka Rosca and blurbs from film director Peque Gallaga and sociologist Randy David but a third was proving elusive. I had asked one historian-blogger-turned-establishment who said yes, an honor, but changed his mind upon reading the manuscript – he preferred a pure timeline a la Chronology, didn’t like my “editorializing,” promoting a point of view along the way.  So I tried a young EDSA scholar who said yes, an honor, too, but never got back to me (he did send Katrina a draft, with a note wondering if it was good enough). And then I virtually bumped into Philippine Studies scholar Jojo Abinales on Facebook via Katrina and he said yes, an honor! even offered me, and I accepted, a copy of his notes on the side as he was reading the text. It was great feedback that had me tweaking the “Marcos Times” run-up to EDSA, and his notes on the four days told Katrina to push our luck, ask for an Afterword instead, and he said yes. He also sent me the link to an unpublished unedited February 2003 interview of Stephen Bosworth on file in the US National Archives, and when I couldn’t access it from here, he did a cut-and-paste, and I was combing through that when Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir [2012] came out in late September. I knew then to forget about a February 2013 launch.

Enrile finally confessed, in detail, to the failed coup – without mentioning, of course, that he denied it all through the four days of EDSA. And then he lashed out at errors in two books, one of them Chronology. At first it felt like a fist to my solar plexus, the way he made it seem that the original sin, the alleged falsehood, was mine when it was Seagrave’s, whom he did not name at all. So what took him so long, all of sixteen years, to dispute that goodbye in the park?  Later I heard talk that the goodbye happened not in the park but in Clark; if true, I’m thinking now, it would explain why he stopped short of challenging Seagrave, because the story is only half false?  But the real uproar was over his account of the ambush on his convoy in September 1972 that was used to justify martial rule: in February 22 1986 when he broke away from Marcos he said the ambush was staged; in the book he says that the ambush was for real. Also, he was not a crony, he has no ill-gotten wealth, and it was Ver who was to blame for all those human rights violations during martial law. In-your-face historical revisionism.

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