Twenty-seven years ago, the miracle of a peaceful revolution that removed a dictator from power unfolded in Edsa. Since then, much has happened that could never have been predicted at that time. Personal and political fortunes had serious ups and downs, heels became heroes and heroes became heels.
As time marched, so did versions of the truth. Many who were quite active in the political dynamics then have since passed away. Most who are forty and below today would have either little or no memory of what really happened then. It is no wonder that there are attempts to mitigate the truth so that villains are viewed more kindly. Unfortunately, mitigating the truth can result in revising history.
There was a famous ambush that many had believed to have been staged, an ambush that was one of the main reasons used to justify the declaration of martial law. In 1986, that ambush admitted in statements to media as, indeed, having been faked. Last year, however, that ambush is again claimed to have been real.
Several days ago, Bobby Ongpin, a key Marcos Cabinet member, was interviewed and he tried to share a personal version of history about the dying days of the dictatorship. Part of what he said in the interview was his belief that Marcos had won the snap election.
This is an email reaction to the Bobby Ongpin interview that came out in the Philippine daily Inquirer, from a Cecilia A. Concepcion. I repost it in full below:
“Very myopic view, if you ask me. Up in his ivory tower (doing what he thought was the only thing that mattered), Bobby Ongpin did not give a hoot about what was going on in the streets below…
He (Marcos) won? Bobby Ongpin even today, with the benefit of hindsight, says he won? Come on! Bobby never heard about the technicians staging a walkout from PICC because of all the fake election returns they were being forced to input? They were heroes of the revolution more than the group of political adventurists that planned that coup d’etat.
By the way, let’s get this straight, once and for all. EDSA was not just about the 3 days where Enrile and his coup gang decided to defect to the side of the people as Ver was after their arses and would have annihilated them. The EDSA revolution was an ongoing process, and we were making inroads. We may have taken a little more time, granted. But the people would have been more politicised in the process. Enrile’s coup ony messed up the educative aspect of our revolution. It delivered outcomes,yes, but unfortunately, too prematurely. –Ces Concepcion
Postscript. A few weeks after EDSA, a group of us (Rose Montenegro, Nini Rojas, Leni Evaristo, Lydia Echauz, Mrs Fernandez, and myself) had a series of meetings with members of the RAM at the La Salle Graduate School. It was then we realised, much to our dismay, that RAM was seeing the same event with a different set of realities, directly opposite to ours; looking at themselves as the saviors for taking Marcos down. Wow! we said to them, See here: we started making noise as early as 1978 when the first elections were held under martial rule. In subsequent elections, we manned the election precincts with our flashlights and candles, with Ting Paterno and Jimmy Ongpin, we distributed flyers, we too turns sleeping on hard benches in nearby sarisari stores.
And when Ninoy was gunned down, we more actively and fearlessly than ever took it to the streets of Ayala and the Quirino Grandstand, seething through the Agrava Commission trials, until Marcos made the fatal mistake of calling a snap election that finally unraveled his grip on a long-patient nation. And now in 1986, after taking cover in Camp Aguinaldo for 3 days behind the shield of the people who massed up at EDSA (and didn’t Nini and Teena even whip up 10 gallons of adobo and delivered to the Camp to feed them?), they have the temerity to call themselves the heroes and the saviors of the EDSA movement? I mean, Come on! Give me a break!
History will record that RAM and Enrile mounted a series of coup attempts against the Cory government in pursuit of their power ambitions. This clearly showing the world and sadly, that, while they had taken advantage of our kindness on those 3 days, they were never on our side.”
Revising history will create a confused people. Generations will become unsure of their own history and may even end up as a laughing stock before a world. After all, many parts of the world at that time had been monitoring the events and personalities deeply affecting the Philippines. Media coverage was more available through international sources because the dictatorship controlled local media.
It is most timely today that President Noynoy Aquino is creating a Truth Museum to enshrine what had happened before more attempts to revise history will achieve permanent status. The Truth Museum will cover martial law and the Edsa People Power revolution, following what some other countries have also done to preserve their experiences of dictatorships and their struggle for freedom.
If the truth does set us free, then the Filipino people must have the truth. The lessons of the past must be learned. Martial law must never find its way to our nation again, and its evil must not be mitigated to serve the interests of the guilty.
The search for the truth is, in itself, the most important issue. Filipinos must be given official encouragement to pursue and preserve the virtue of truth that is challenged every time there is an attempt to revise history. Those who commit high crimes against the nation must not get away with it and the condemnation of their wrongdoing must outlive them.
Once it becomes a national effort to bring out the truth, then preserve this for future generations, I believe we will be shocked to know there is much more than we already know.