Every time EDSA 1986 is mentioned, much of what I remember is its aftermath, one that is more personal than most, one that has nothing to do with what I did on those four days. In 1986, I was a nine-year old girl, and all I remember is 12-year old Kuya, lying on the sofa, trying very hard to convince Mama to let him join my much older cousins who were trooping to EDSA. I remember Mama poring through newspapers and keeping everything – everything – of those times. I remember the jubilation of my elders at Marcos leaving, and Cory becoming President.
I was a freshman in college in 1996 when Mama’s chronology was finally going to be published. At the State University, there was no love lost for EDSA, and in my Philippine history class that read Renato Constantino, EDSA was discussed only in relation to the end of Martial Law, bringing us to the point of the current status quo. I knew enough then to realize that the way Mama’s book presented the information on the four days of EDSA was not to be considered as a historian’s discipline, it was no conventional history book. As one friend, out of naiveté I imagine, even said, “Ah, so nag-compile lang siya?” I didn’t know enough to deal with such a judgment then, and so it was left at that.
In 1997, my activist affiliations allowed me to see why exactly EDSA as I knew it, and EDSA as Mama told it, were unacceptable. Anyone who wasn’t in EDSA, anyone who didn’t believe in Cory, or the ambiguous, unnamed, fluid movement that kicked Marcos out of the presidency and the country, wouldn’t find value in a chronology of events. The latter seems like a cop-out to them, a mere compilation, one that’s without a stand or ideology, a standard recounting of events, which doesn’t add anything to the discourse of EDSA, wasn’t worth reading, wasn’t real history.
And as with many things then, I didn’t have an intelligent enough response, but I did have this story to tell.
We grew up on EDSA, Kuya and I, and we saw the kind of discipline and patience Mama put into this work. I remember tables and desks across three different homes being filled with newspaper clippings and EDSA books; many conversations with interested friends and family;TV shows and documentaries recorded on the trusty Betamax; interviews being transcribed, the typewriter working overtime, the sounds becoming part of both waking and sleeping; Papa getting Mama a PC and printer, Kuya getting Mama into Wordstar and later on Microsoft Word, and helping with the tedious task of printing out page by page, draft after draft, a measure of patience all around; and me finally growing up, old enough to tag along as alalay and moral support, or just uzizera, when she interviewed Baby Arenas.
I remember pigging out on Baby A.’s bowls of pistachios with Tito Iskho (Lopez) as Mama did the interview; carrying video equipment for Tito Gerry (Gerena) who did the video documentations; serving Tito Jorge (Arago) coke as he wrote the “About the Author” on our first computer, and waiting as he took forever because he wanted to merge letters of an existing draft instead of re-writing phrases or sentences; chatting with Mang Nonoy (Marcelo) about too many mundane and important things as he worked on the cover for the FVR project that didn’t push through; being overwhelmed at the book launch in Club Filipino, when Cory came to Mama’s table, shook her hand, and thanked her for the book; and after the affair, when Mang Nonoy insisted on treating us all to food and drinks in Bistro Lorenzo.
It would take graduate studies though, continued involvement in activism, and a lot of cultural theory before I would come to terms with Mama’s EDSA, over and above the personal. Now I realize that what has always been highly arguable about Mama’s chronology is also what makes it important. As a “mere” compilation of the events of EDSA, with the process of inclusion as goal – putting in everything that was published on those four days, interviewing anyone willing to tell his or her story without asking to be the star of the show – Mama was letting the story be told. By itself, in itself. Through as many voices and perspectives that exist, contradictions be damned.
In the process, the form undoubtedly highlights what it is many have refused to believe about the EDSA Revolution of 1986: that it was people power, really and truly. The chronology forces us to contend with the fact that all EDSA really had were people. People who weren’t organized in any form or manner, people who didn’t know really what was going on beyond their field of vision, beyond the square feet their feet could walk. The chronology forces us all to admit that there was no miracle here, no reducing the whole exercise to class, no organization that could take responsibility for the outcome.
This chronology forces us to admit that no one can claim EDSA 1986, no one hero, no one voice, no one movement. EDSA 1986 was about a people power that was of the spontaneous, dis-/un-organized, fluid and ambiguous, kind. There was no one star of this show that shook the world. And that is what makes it even more spectacular and extraordinary. What makes it even more possible to repeat. What makes it the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
This manuscript, typos and all, is the original unrevised version of Mama’s chronology before it was edited and published by Eggie Apostol’s Foundation for Worldwide People Power in 1996.
This EDSA 1986 website is a project of Kuya’s, who has always wanted to make accessible to the world the kind of work that Mama has done, and highlight how valuable it continues to be, given contemporary discourse on the subject and the current political landscape. It comes at an opportune time, when Cory’s death has reminded us of 1986, and when the continued oppressions and poverty this country lives with make us look even more to EDSA, to the truth(s) behind people power, and most importantly, to the possibility of revolution.