Credit goes to Filipinos as the real heroes of Edsa ’86


(Last of two parts)

(Editor’s Note: The author was an Army major during the Edsa People Power Revolution. A bemedalled officer, he retired in 2005.)

Edsa looked like this—a vast multitude of civilians thronging the avenue to protect the rebels headquartered in Crame and Aguinaldo. The proximate causes of their gathering were the mobilization of Butz Aquino’s peer network and the appeal of Cardinal Sin on Radio Veritas to the national audience. But why did the people come?

Because the invisible roots of Edsa were a burgeoning despair over a disintegrating economy and rage at a national leadership perceived as incompetent, rapacious and the major reason for everything wrong. Anger makes people brave and reckless.

In their anger, millions in their hearts severed allegiance to the Marcos regime and hundreds of thousands actually demonstrated in the open.

Sterling Seagrave in “The Marcos Dynasty” narrates that the CIA manipulated events, using a backroom behind Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile’s office in Camp Aguinaldo; instigated the RAM and Enrile to connive against Ferdinand Marcos and to stage a coup; deliberately misled Ronald Reagan because the CIA did not trust him to act decisively against his friend Marcos; made available for Enrile their extensive taping of Gen. Fabian Ver and company’s communications; and delivered to Enrile and Gen. Fidel Ramos their extensive collection of military officers.

Regrettably, Seagrave’s statements are unverifiable. So are the miracle claims of Cardinal Sin. A parochial faith alone upholds either view.

When Ver, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in full battle gear, asked for the nth time for permission to bomb the rebels, President Ferdinand Marcos simply had to say no.

Washington had spoken against the assault on Enrile and Ramos.

On the sly, Ver sent a helicopter team to assault Camp Crame. The team landed inside the perimeter of Camp Crame and defected inside. By then Washington knew that the breakaway group was winning the Edsa rebellion.

Marcos lost American support, which included the loss of a small legion of officers in the military. An alliance with a “foreign prince” is unstable enough, and more so when you steal from him, place his interests in grave danger, and appear to him that you are about to fall anyway.

Officer corps mind-set

In the Philippines, we had not seen the military mount a successful coup d’état. What Marcos did was to be elected leader and then use the Constitution and the military’s vow to defend the republic against his enemies.

The lesson here is that the military, once it has an anointed leader, can be moved against a reigning leadership if a messiah role can be created. This evolves when the integrity of the republic and the people seem in danger. The officer corps has a mind-set about legitimacy and a revulsion for treachery, treason and destroying the people it was sworn and trained to protect.

In the case of Edsa I, Marcos lost his legitimacy because the majority of the military was not his direct beneficiary as Ver and co. were, and the massive crowds in Edsa looked like the sovereign people themselves withdrawing their allegiance to Marcos.

Military not isolated

In another instance, if the officer corps can be made to feel that it is a separate class altogether, then it may rule by whim one day. The isolation of the military from the nation has in fact occurred many times in human history: the praetorian guards of Rome, the janissaries of Baghdad, the mercenary armies of Machiavelli’s time, the “noble family” officers of European kingdoms, the Sandhurst military academy officers of England’s colonies, the “good family” officers of Brazil and Argentina, to cite a few examples.

It would take more than a generation to breed this isolated type of military in the Philippines, far too long for anyone who wants to use the military for his own purposes.

Today, the broadly recruited officer corps which we have is linked to too many socioeconomic classes. They cannot think of themselves as separate from the people.

Edsa was a civilian-backed military revolt, sparked by the defection of two men, who were supported by a national religious leader and a foreign power with strong adherents within the military.

The military, as sheer power goes, could have dispersed the crowd, but to do so would have been to kill one of their very own, Ramos, who was their highest leader at that time.

In other nations of current memory this scruple was not policy. Burma became Myanmar after its military shut down and crushed its “people power.” An octogenarian autocracy still rules a billion people after its military fired at will relentlessly at its “people power” with lethal tanks. But assuredly no military leader of rank was obviously to be killed as well.

Perhaps later, but that is the work of time, subtle terror and the police.

Asserting a miracle

The Roman Catholics have built a shrine on the corner of Edsa and Ortigas Avenue. There, on top is a statue of Virgin Mary with rather homely Malayan-Chinese features. She represents the rosaries held up to the armored vehicles of the marines. The priests, nuns and laity who claim to have stopped the armored personnel carriers assert a miracle.

The basis of this assertion is that rosaries do not stop armored soldiers, and yet they apparently did. To achieve a prediction with an improbable means is, and has been for millennia, a definition of a ‘miracle’ sufficient for large multitudes as well as for quite a few who would consider themselves positivist logicians.

But there are those who would be interested in either predicting or creating another Edsa. For them a secular explanation would be more interesting if only because control would be reverted to their human hands.

Credit Cory, Enrile, Ramos

There are, to be sure, passionate adherents on either side. But the failure of the Aug. 28, 1987, putsch, with its rather visible squad of CIA colonels all too obviously on Gregorio Honasan’s side, certainly belies CIA capability to deliver large numbers of military officers on demand. No one turned up on Edsa to support Honasan. Thus, CIA capability to whip up national passions clearly was limited.

Edsa ’86 was the classic revolutionary situation described by Clarence Brinton in the “Anatomy of Revolution.” To be sure, the CIA saw it coming and might have nudged it along. But Edsa ’86 was too big to be anyone’s creation.

Give credit for sparking the revolution to Enrile and Ramos since it started with their defection. Give distinctive credit to Ramos, the professional soldier around whom the officer corps rallied. Give credit to Cory for winning a mandate which unraveled the legitimacy of Marcos and provided the people with a visible alternative leader. Give credit to the national voices (include June Keithley) who called on the people to stand up against all that armor with their amulets. Give credit to the CIA which had the common sense to act upon the knowledge that Marcos had become irrelevant.

People most of all

But after all is said and done, remember the people in the millions upon whom everybody rode to separate glories. Anything else is a pompous guess.

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  • tower_of_power

    Ramos and Enrile were already credited with hundreds of millions of pesos stolen from the people of the Philippines … they staged the coup to escape prison … and were subsequently exonerated by Cory.

    Ramos became president … built bridges to nowhere and tons of rotting steel of paid but  unused bridges … an arch in the forest … logging concession in Indonesia in exchange for laundered money in Indonesia to build highways in the Philippines … power barges to fleece the poor people of the Philippines!!!

    Enrile in his desire to make someone happy … built port Irene …. smuggled cars … distributed peoples money as gifts to fellow senators … hahahahahaha .. nakakatawa talaga … nuong sinabi ang mga salitang “gusto ko happy ka” ang akala ng mga botante ay directed sa kanila … yun pala kay GIGI nakatingin nuong sinasabi …. yun … nilayasan ng asawa!!!!

    Mga MILITAR nga naman!!!!

    • Platypus09

      You have a proof? Then, you should sue. They are still alive.

      Otherwise, close your mouth.

      • kurakut


      • Miguel

        Pikon nasa paligid mo lang ang proof dumilat ka nga lang baka nakapikit ka kaya wala kang nakikita. Baka naman nagbulag-bulagan ka o nagbingibingihan l ka lang bro.

  • Cors Guiao

    I disagree to give credits to Enrile and Ramos. During that time they have no more choice, but their defection will not be effective if cardinal Sin did not call on the Catholics to support them. We were  following that in 1986 and we dare not move when we heard about their defection, BUT when we heard the voice of Cardinal Sin, almost all the residents in our barangay immediately set off to  EDSA to join the people and the religious there. Since we live in Mandaluyong, we were among the first to arrive there. It is not because of Ramos and Enrile but because of Cardinal Sin.It is the Catholics, the taxpayers and the priests and nuns who were the real heroes.

    • Miguel

      And you call yourself heroes? What a shame. 

    • $44545315

      Marcos was, is and forever will be the True Hero of EDSA.

      • novaliches

        I agree, kung iba ang presidente, baka dumanak ang dugo sa Edsa, remember mendiola. kaya umalis na lang si Marcos para walang mamatay sa edsa. Si Sin inilagay niya sa panganib ang mga pinoy, buti na lang hindi pumatol si Marcos.

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        And where is he now? Thrown out, disowned and left for cold.

        Marcos is a hero. Tell that to Gardy Versozi!

      • NinjaMan

        hah! marcos is a moron like you! LOL

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        Jerry Seinfeld = Gardy Versozi


      • NinjaMan

        why should i? LOL google it. LOL

  • kurakut


    • novaliches

      Yehey, the taong “nasa labas at usisero” were so intimidating that they prevailed against the Philippine Military.  akala ko ba mga ruthless ang ating military at maraming pinag=papapatay. Pero sa mga  taong labas at usisero lang pala ang katapat nila.

      • INQ415

        sayang daw kasi ang bala

    • Miguel

      Yes give credit to those millions of fools (mostly mirons) who joined EDSA only to regret what they had done. 

      • $44545315

        Good to see a voice of reason among the millions of fools who pollute this country.

  • justyouraveragechinoy

    hehehe in your opinion! taking too much credit ba ang Catholics? History can speak for itself you don’t need to rewrite it.  I don’t think anybody is taking credit away from FVR, Enrile or Cory pero you can’t deny that the people responded to the call of Cardinal Sin.  You don’t have to believe in the power of the Rosary pero you don’t have to belittle it either.

  • Rosauro

    Metro Manila’s People Power ’86

    • $44545315

      Many of these idiots don’t understand that there are millions and millions more people who did not want the instability that EDSA caused outside the confines of Manila.

  • Magsasaka

    noong nagkaroon ng rebolusyon laban sa espanya inagaw sa atin ng kano ang ating kalayaan at dahil hindi tayo natuto sa kasaysayan noong nagkaroon ng rebolusyon laban sa diktador muling inagaw sa atin ng kano ang kalayaan, lugmok pa rin ang pinas sa hirap dahil hindi napalitan ang sistema, mga tao lang na bumuo sa sistema ng mga magnanakaw at ang mga pumalit ay mga magnanakaw din.

    • Jose Rizal

      That “Kano” gives the Filipnos the consciousness for quality education…& UP…in so short period of time…

      • Magsasaka

        quality education?kung totoo ang sinasabi mo dapat magbubunga iyon ng quality economy, natatawa ka ba sa katungawan mo hehehe

      • Miguel

        Ano ang naituro ng UP sa mga kabataan. O ayan ang ebidensiya mga rebeldeng komunista na nanggaling sa UP at hanggang ngayon ay salot pa rin sa bayan. 

      • Magsasaka

        salot sila bayan pero ang mga magnanakaw na produkto ng philippine magnanakaw association, AFP generals at Euro generals ay mga mapagmahal sa bayan?
        mababa yata ang antas ng utak mo kaya hindi ka nakapasok sa UP ehehehe

      • Jose Rizal

        You missed the “consciousness” part…
        Hahahahahahaha!  Reading comprehension is a must…

      • Magsasaka

        ehehehe hahahaha anong relasyon ngekngekngekngek

  • Roy Batty

    Of course the credits always goes to the Filipinos but when it comes to where the interest of the nation go, it goes only among the privileged few. 

  • Jose Rizal

    The Filipino people of whom being burdened by the oligarchs passing of costs to them, as a result of Cory-Oligarch tandem in drafting the constitution.  The Filipino people who has been dished out day in/day out of the “smoke & mirrors” brainwashing.  The Filipino people who are being deprived of the quality basic services of eductaion, shelter, low electricity & water rates, of quality healthcare (not just condoms & pills), etc., etc.  All are being PPPrivatized.  Government lack of investment to the very basic mandate of which its reason for existence is founded is apparent.  It is a must for a Phil government to take control and invest on those basic services required.  This is where the oligarchs hated Marcos and they managed to sneak in the economic provisions, favourable to them, because of the HATRED/VINDICTIVENESS by the Filipinos on THE DICTATOR SIDE OF MARCOS.  Yes, the OLIGARCHS managed to give us FAKE FREEDOM, but steal the ECONOMIC FREEDOM on which most of us are not aware of.  We only notice the lack of quality employment, family budget being eaten up by the electric/water bills, high prices of basic commodity, high tution fees, high public transport rates, burden on VAT on basic products bought, high toll rates, and exodus of Filipinos and OFWs.
    We need brilliant and trustworthy candidates to turn the tide around.
    We need more than just a rhesus monkey abnoy being installed just to entertained and brainwashed the citizenry, because of the brilliance of some communist-oriented KKK.

  • Miguel

    Villains not heroes to be exact.

    • $44545315

      Villains indeed. Villains who blindly sold us out to the USA and the oligarchy.

  • $44545315

    Ferdinand E. Marcos: The Real Hero of ’86.

  • nakatutok

    buti na lang retired na ang author..kung hindi mapag iiinitan pa siya..dapat pamilya Aquino lang ang sikat sa EDSA….

  • JasonBieber

    There may be many who forget that it was the ‘People Power’ and not just a few people with power.

    Great what the parents of PNoy help initiate along with the mentioned in this article but we shouldn’t mistake this event as a yellow event meaning Aquino because this was not an Aquino achievement but the peoples.

  • jElly_aCe

    hanggang ngyn nde pa rin ramdam ang resulta ng edsa na yan. puro ka dramahan at iyakan npapanuod sa vid. ang totoong nkinabang ng edsa na yan ay mga aquino, frends ng aquino, mga elite na nde mka porma ke marcos. ung mga poor as usual plage gnagamit at gnagawang reason kuno. sbe demokrasya? kaliwat knan rape, holdapan kht sa loob ng mall, kaliwat knan din ang gutom at super dami ng mga bata, wlang classrums, wlang job. sbe ng lola ko buti pa ng arw may nutriban at powder milk bgay sa mga students sa public skuls, ngyn.. sinolo ng gobyerno. kaliwat kanan nakawan. lahat cla. pilipinas kung mahal…

  • joerizal

    Ang totoong hero doon ay ang US  kasi nagpadala sila ng helicopters para isalba si Macoy at Imeldific. Di niyo ba alam yon?

  • Franzeline Perdubal

    I love Gardy Versozi!

    • NinjaMan

      what survey is that? can you provide a link? and are you saying that president aquino and his administration is also corrupt? wow, see what happens when you don’t think before you write something? that’s called being an idiot. LOL

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        I love Gardi Versozi!

      • NinjaMan

        you see, you just made up that statistic, and you can’t back it up. you said you’ll be all over my posts? hahahahahaha!

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        Gardy Versozi, Ang ganda mo!

      • NinjaMan

        SMNDT (sagutin mo ng diretso, thanga!) LOL

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        Gardy, Mahal na kita!

      • NinjaMan

        next time, think before you post something. because some might take you up on it, and you end up as stupid as you will ever be. LOL

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        Gardy, dont feel bad. Im your biggest fan online!

      • NinjaMan

        well that was easy. didn’t know you’ll give up quickly. this is what is happening right now. after realizing you can’t win, you’re trying a different tactic. and usually for idiots like you, the tactic is to pretend you’re enjoying when in reality, you’re already going bald pulling your hair from your head, nose, armpits, and vagina. LOL

      • Franzeline Perdubal

        The art of War is only for those who know how the loser feels. I can feel you gardy. Mwah!

      • NinjaMan

        my work is done. LOL

      • NinjaMan

        that’s a reversal. 2 days ago you threatened that you’ll be all over my posts, as if that will scare me. i turned the tables on you and now i’m all over your posts. hahahahahaha. now you’re my biggest fan? LOL, what an idiot.

      • NinjaMan

         you edited out your post? LOL how pathetic is that?

  • novaliches

    isang judge na nagpunta sa register of deeds, at pina- follow-up yung kanyang land title. sabi sa office, maglagay daw ng 40k para maayos, sabi ng judge, judge ako, pati ba naman ako kailan din maglagay.  sabi ng clerk, sorry sir, SOP yan. kung ayaw ninyong maglagay, ok naman, huwag niyo lang asahan gumalaw ang papers niyo., bumalik na lang sa isang buwan.

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