The 10th anniversary of EDSA is just about three months away, and already I hear voices tilting with the truth and casting a different net about what happened February 22-25, 1986. Imelda Marcos contends that the late dictator was the real hero of EDSA because her late husband stopped his soldiery led by Gen. Fabian Ver from subjecting the huge human mass at EDSA to history's bloodiest massacre. Imelda is back in business at the Lower House, as usual extolling "the good, the true and the beautiful," largely meaning herself and the departed dictator. Ah, the deep, resonant, wondrous chiming of bells that I heard during EDSA is now being dribbled out of memory! Those responsible are out to rewrite those four days in February 1986 that shook the world. The RAM, led by Col. Gregorio Honasan, has laid claim to EDSA, as has former minister now senator Juan Ponce Enrile. In 1994, but for the watchful eyes of some EDSA veterans and this writer, the eighth anniversary of EDSA would have been relegated to a footnote.

The EDSA keyword of People Power has been scratched out in a draft memorandum prepared by Lennie de Jesus (bosswoman of the Presidential Management Staff). What would have prevailed was the initial blast of Philippines 2000 whose author was, and remains, Gen. Jose Almonte. Cory Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin had been left out of the official ceremony which excluded the EDSA shrine. And if EDSA's faithful had not tolled the alarm bells, the ninth anniversary would have been a paean to the government's economic genius. All exhibits would have been economic.

Well, we fought. And President Ramos, then highly sensitive to public opinion, ordered the draft memo of Lennie de Jesus shredded. The main rites switched back to the EDSA shrine where the president was only too happy to share stellar roles with Cory Aquino and Cardinal Sin.

Now I hear voices again and they bother me a lot. Now a senator, Greg the erstwhile Gringo Honasan describes as "shrill" and "hysterical" anybody who wants the RAM to surrender its cache of combat weapons. They will need that for "leverage" and will yield them only when the last Whereas and Therefore has been nailed to the government-RAM peace agreement and the Seal of the Republic affixed. Leverage is simply an offshoot of Joe Almonte's doctrine laying the Malacañang's protective hand on the RAM. Remember? Joe-Al, RAM's acknowledged godfather, told the RAM not to disband, not to surrender their arms, to remain intact. They would be needed, he said, to exert pressure on politicians who resisted reforms. If this is not blackmail, I don't know what is.

Don't ever forget that Honasan and Co., together with then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile, claimed EDSA as their creation. And now they have reconciled with President Fidel Ramos who joined them at EDSA. And I am not exactly sure I agree with this latest statement of Senator Enrile, assuming he was correctly quoted: "That's why Eddie (Ramos) and I, together with the RAMboys and majority of out people, revolted and toppled the Marcos regime."

JPE made that statement to rebut Imelda Marcos's claim that he and Ramos were the blood-stained janissaries of martial rule, not her husband. Study that statement well. Yes, JPE mutinied with his RAM boys led by Honasan. Yes, FVR, who was on outs with Gen. Fabian Ver, joined the mutineers at Camp Crame. But it was a Palace mutiny that backfired and failed because the dictator caught them in the act. And so they all escaped to Camp Crame as a fatally wounded corrida bull seeks the shadows to say their last prayers. And perhaps to die.

I will not deny them their courage. They had courage.

But I do deny them their claim that they were the heroes of EDSA. Why? Because EDSA was a different event altogether. EDSA did not come about because they launched a Palace coup. EDSA came about because of a long string of events and happenings that built up like a blast furnace and an ignition system in the heart of the citizenry immediately after the assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. August 21, 1983. Out of Ninoy's death, People Power emerged like a newborn baby bawling out the joy of getting out of his mother's womb.

People Power started dawn of the following day, August 22, 1983, when the tens, then hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands threaded their way to the Aquino residence in Quezon City to view his remains. People Power thronged the highways by the hundreds of thousands as Ninoy's body was brought by his family to Concepcion, Tarlac, and back. People Power poured all over Metro Manila as Benigno Aquino Jr. was laid to rest August 30, 1983 inside a simple white-washed tomb at the Manila Memorial cemetery. People Power exploded in the weeks and months thereafter as the biggest demonstrations in the Philippines' history choked the streets of the metropolis. People Power was such that Imelda Marcos for the first time really got scared and trembled with her husband in Malacañang.

People Power. Its ignition system worked again when Jaime Cardinal Sin and the Church called on the people to protect the lives of Mssrs. Enrile, Ramos, and Honasan.

People Power and the Camp Crame mutineers were actually alien to each other. It was a Christianity that closed ranks at the behest of the Church to protect Christians who would have been slain by the dictatorship. But People Power had no love lost for the mutineers. The latter were considered admirable men of virtue, principle, and patriotism who revolted because of love of country. People Power remained the haunting hand of Ninoy Aquino which bore busted rosary beads when the military assassinated him at the Manila International Airport. And that hand was the shadow over EDSA.

Colonel Honasan and Co. were part of this military that conspired to kill Ninoy willingly and gleefully on the instructions of Malacañang. Let us not forget that.  

....Ninoy's face was dust and dirt-speckled, bruised from his headlong fall from stairs to tarmac. But there was the slightest suggestion of a smile around his closed lips. Ninoy seemed to be telling the dictator that in the end, he, Ninoy, won and he, Ferdinand Marcos, blinked.

I have to recapitulate things over and over again because the present refuses to honor the past. Those in power would not rewrite EDSA to serve their own ignominious purposes. They refuse to see the past as it was, EDSA as it was, Ninoy as he was assassinated by his soldier-escort. The past brings its baggage of truth and undistorted reality. For men of ambition, men who would use power for power's sake, the past must be bent like a pretzel and soaked in the musk of humbug, cant, and pretense.

Notice that the men who rule us today would want Ninoy's name to be swept adrift by the four winds, pillaged of its heroism and nobility, forgotten. Theirs is the world of tawdry and tinsel imagination, the core and center of which is a Centennial Tower that touches nothing in the sky but the emptiness of vainglory. Funny, but they claim their watering place was EDSA. And if we the people were there, well, we were sucked into the greatness of their deed. That is what they claim.

The rewriting of EDSA has long begun. But we who were there will not allow them to get away with it. 

Teodoro C. Benigno
The Philippine Star
17 November 1995

Before Edsa 1965-1986: Marcos Times
Day One

Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
The Flight

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