the edsa tradition

a friend texted after reading my blog on the trillanes trip: “OMG the blogger wants blood!?! how demanding!”

not at all. i was just trying to point out (maybe i failed) that trillanes was doomed yet again unless he was on non-violent mode and willing to die for his beliefs a la ninoy-cory-butz, seeing as the arroyo police was on shock-awe-and-destroy mode a la marcos-ver.

let’s not forget that what was remarkable, and what deserves re-creating, about edsa one was not so much the military rebellion as it was the non-violent action of the people, stopping tanks with their warm bodies and ardent prayers, which “disarmed” so to speak, and rendered non-violent too, the marcos military.

cardinal sin “forgot” this noong edsa dos. and juan ponce enrile, miriam defensor santiago, and tito sotto “forgot” this noong edsa tres. this is why when historian rey ileto asked me, soon after edsa dos and tres, what differences i saw between “the original EDSA and its pale reflections,” i could only agree. pale reflections, indeed. poor imitations, in fact.

the edsa tradition would have been better re-lived by edsa dos if cardinal sin had not stopped the youth from moving the action to mendiola. noong edsa uno, day 3 pa lang, unarmed militant groups were already gathering in mendiola; coryistas marched in from edsa the next day. the mission: to scare marcos, make him think violent mobs were at the gates, on the verge of breaking in. in fact, non-violent pa rin ang strategy. some stones and bottles were thrown at the marines guardingthe palace gates and barricades but not to hit or hurt, only to provoke the soldiers to shoot their guns in the air and thus freak out the marcoses.

but during edsa dos, cardinal sin was so afraid that violence would break out, remembering only the violent entry into and looting of the palace. in fact all that violence happened only after the choppers had lifted off with the marcoses and the marines had withdrawn. and had ramos and gringo/the new armed forces bothered to send troops to the palace along with the people (it’s not as if they didn’t know marcos was leaving), the transition would have been completely orderly.

and so, had the edsa dos crowd been allowed to march to mendiola a la edsa uno, with the mission in mind of peacefully, through sheer numbers, pressuring erap into signing an unequivocal letter of resignation drafted by the people, then that particular issue would truly be closed. instead, erap freaked out only enough to leave the seat of the presidency, but not to resign the office.

as for edsa tres. imagine if the edsa tres “mob” had been better informed by their leaders about edsa 1986, in particular how the non-violent strategy worked to neutralize the armed forces and freak the marcoses out. imagine if the masses who marched to mendiola marched peacefully instead and surrounded malacanang in a giant sit-in, filling the streets, stopping traffic, with priests saying mass and nuns leading the praying of the rosary24/7… the armed forces would have been helpless, gloria would have had to negotiate, the erap question could have been more quickly and more clearly resolved.

our problem is, we’re fixated on a rebel military as the key to mobilizing people power. our problem is, we don’t see, or we forget, that by the time enrile and ramos defected in february ’86, people power was already mobilized, it was already day 7 of cory’s civil disobedience campaign, coryistas were on non-violent revolutionary mode, the boycott of Marcos-crony businesses was peaking, and the economy was reeling from bank runs and capital flight. there was no doubt by then that cory’s strategy, to compel the business community to force marcos to step down, was succeeding. in fact it was succeeding so well, the military reformists just had to get into the act, and that’s when people power was diverted to edsa.

in other words, change is not up to the military, change is up to us. cory showed us the way, if we would only see.


  1. Amen! Amen! Amen!

    Ang unawa ko, handa talaga ang mga taong magbuwis ng buhay noong Edsa 1. Pero dahil iyun sa tuluy-tuloy na pagkilos, at sa paglawak ng hanay ng mga kumikilos. Hindi iyung kahandaang mamatay lamang ang naging mapagpasya kundi ang konteksto nito ng malawak sa sama-samang pagkilos — natin! Natin!

    Napakahalaga ng punto mo.

  2. salamat, teo. pasensiya na, di ko na nabanggit/natutukan ang napakahalagang papel ng kaliwa sa tuluytuloy na pagkilos during martial law at ang pakikipagkapitbisig nila sa mga coryista kahit pa inisnab nila ang snap election.

    schumey, bumubuwelo lang ako tungkol sa sumilao farmers. masalimuot na usapin talaga ang agrarian reform dito sa atin.