Interviews by Deedee Siytangco and Sol Vanzi
My most distinct memory of the EDSA Revolution was that moment on Feb. 23, Sunday, two o’clock in the afternoon, when we crossed from Camp Aguinaldo to Camp Crame with then Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile to join forces with Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, who had then established a command center in the opposite camp.
It was, to me, the high point of the military breakaway of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), and evidence of the culmination of the moral outrage and demand for change, a change that our uprising had accelerated.
I knew that millions had gathered on the streets, as well as between the camps. I had been concerned that we would be perceived as government lackeys and greeted with hostility and hate, or that the country would break out in civil war, as we had sufficient forces to resist.
That moment, I knew that we were on the side of the truth, and we had followed our own hearts, consciences, and moral compasses in making our decision.
We had decided to show the world what we were fighting for, rather than what we were fighting against. And the country was on our side.—Sen. Gregorio Honasan
You have to ask if EDSA really changed lives. Have we improved our lot? Is the country today prouder? Is our country today stronger than before? If in the end we can answer yes to all these questions: did we rise from poverty, leveled the playing field? That you will accept. But the reality is, that did not happen.
It really doesn’t matter what happened to the Marcos family. We’ve accepted it. C’est la vie.
But it’s difficult to accept that the country did not progress, did not move forward. Of course, things have changed, and many things have been improved, but overall, nada. It’s a little bit sad.
I hope that for all the heartbreak, for all the sacrifice on all sides since EDSA, we have learned. I hope we study it so we are not condemned to repeat it again and again and again…
It’s not personal anymore. It’s long gone. A lot has happened since then. Some say the Marcoses are unsinkable; that’s fine with me. It’s only personal. The bigger concern is the country. We should learn. You really have to touch people’s lives; that’s the only measure. That’s the final measure and in the end, the only truthful one.—Rep. Imee Marcos
It was awesome! Entire families at EDSA during those glorious days, asking what they could do for the country, not what the country could do for them. Ready to give their all. The Filipino is worth dying for! It was one bright shining moment that was EDSA People Power. All too brief? The Filipino is [now] worth killing for?—Sen. Rene Saguisag
I remember vividly Cory speaking in front of POEA building, EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue. It galvanized and strengthened the resolve of the people to overthrow the Marcos dictatorship. She is really the Icon of Democracy—Noli Santos
My office was near Channel 7 and I hurried over to save my precious tapes on Cory Aquino, then the hope and symbol of the opposition and the candidate against the dictator, then we hear a call on radio to help secure PTV 4 and we hurried over. We were able to secure it with civilian friends and we reopened the station for broadcast again, but it was no longer a pro-Marcos station. It was free! I remember broadcasters coming to volunteer their services..Orly Punzalan, Tina Monzon Palma, Maan Hontiveros…freedom sounded so sweet over the airlanes again!—Maria Montelibano
The beginning and end of EDSA-1 will always be in my heart and mind. To me, it began with a call from a member of August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM) on the night of Feb. 22, 1986.
Butz Aquino, Nick Santiago, and I, all founding members of ATOM, were having dinner and drinks at the birthday celebration of Mildred Juan when the caller told Butz about yet unverified reports that Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile had deserted Marcos and had camped out in Camp Crame together with their supporters from the military and the police.
We all decided to go to the ATOM headquarters in Makati to call others who might have additional info. Butz phoned Assemblywoman Cecilia Munoz Palma while I called Senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno. Both advised us to verify the reports before taking supportive action. Nonetheless, Butz decided to proceed to Cubao with five others in three vehicles while I stayed behind to call the other members (by landline, no mobile phones yet) to stand by and wait for further instructions.
After less than an hour, we heard Butz over the radio calling on all ATOM members and supporters to mass up on Aurora Boulevard near EDSA in Cubao. Immediately, the 15 or so of us at the headquarters rushed to join Butz. When we got there, hundreds were already behind six Atom banners as we marched towards Crame while shouting anti-dictatorship slogans.
We stayed put in EDSA as thousands joined the protest groups until the climax on the 26th when radio announcements stated that Marcos and his family had fled to Hawaii. I screamed my lungs out and unabashedly shed tears in sheer joy and gratitude that we, the people, our country had finally gotten rid of the dictator in a peaceful, bloodless manner!—Reli German
EDSA was a wasted opportunity. JPE and Doy (Salvador Laurel ) could have built a better government had the plan been implemented to make Cory Aquino a ceremonial president until the end of her term, while Doy Laurel sits as Prime Minister to run the government with Juan Ponce Enrile as defense secretary to protect the government.
In the morning of Feb. 25, I figured that there were three factions: Enrile with military backing, Doy Laurel with Cory backed by the Church and the EDSA crowd, and a group of powerless KBL politicians. I headed a 10-man delegation sent by Doy to meet with Enrile at Camp Crame to form a coalition, but could not tear him away from the army of local and foreign media covering the EDSA revolt.
Enrile was displeased to learn that Cory refused to take her oath inside Camp Crame, as he had recommended. He grudgingly went to Club Filipino to attend Cory’s oath taking with the leaders of RAM, the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, which initiated the EDSA uprising.
At Club Filipino, we were surprised to hear Cory announce the members of her cabinet and her other plans for her government. We did not see that coming. Doy Laurel later told me he would not quarrel with a woman. Ever the gentleman, he allowed Cory to have her way.
So Cory Aquino fired everybody, from the Batasang Pambansa and the Supreme Court to the mayors and councilors, disrupting the government and sowing the seeds of division and vindictiveness that continue to hound us today.
Sayang talaga.—Homobono Adaza
During those days I was the opposition and church reporter for the Manila Bulletin and as such I covered opposition rallies and I monitored activist priests and their homilies.
It was the only way they could tell the faithful the truth behind the events of the day. When Cardinal Sin got a call from Juan Ponce Enrile, then DND chief of Marcos to protect the breakaway soldiers led by him and FVR and Honasan, the people responded to his appeal over Radio Veritas.
They came by the hundreds, thousands on foot, private cars and buses. They encamped on EDSA between camps Crame and Aguinaldo and stood their ground. Led by nuns and seminarians and priests, they carried statues of Our Lady of Fatima and their rosaries. They shared their food and resources. Many slept on EDSA! The spirit of solidarity and oneness as a people and faith in the Almighty to protect them prevailed. They offered food to the soldiers and in some instances, flowers. It was indeed a peaceful People Power Revolution.—Deedee Siytangco
We had guests over at our home that Saturday evening—the dela Rosas. He ran a resort in Mindoro; his wife was an American who’d only recently found a teaching job at an international school here. We were on our third set of a game of darts before sitting down to dinner when the phone rang.
A close friend breathlessly asked if we were listening to the radio. “It’s happening now! Radio Veritas! Let me know if you guys are going!” She meant EDSA of course.
We tuned in, as our guests tried to gauge when it might be safe to traverse the distance to Quezon City, where they stayed. It was a rather exciting dinner, as a few more phone calls came in, one from a colleague whose brother was in the military. Sometime after midnight, my husband and I decided we would go to EDSA.
I brewed some strong coffee, packed sandwiches and water, and we were on our way. It was still dark and eerily quiet along our street as we drove out with our visitors in the back seat, and me fiddling with our yaya’s transistor radio. We made our way slowly along the back alleys, parking near Greenhills and began walking toward EDSA.
We were not alone; there were trickles of people from different directions. Many nodded in solidarity. I recognized no one whom I knew but I felt connected to all who were there.
The road seemed so much wider without the usual cars and buses, and quiet. There were only the occasional sounds of planes passing overhead, a chopper, a distant rumble that may have been a tank.
As the sky started to lighten, I noticed that our friend’s wife was lagging behind, so I walked more slowly. As she came abreast of me I held out my hand. Hers were cold and trembling, and there were tears in her eyes. She whispered, “I want to go home.” I realized suddenly that home for her meant the US, that she was a foreigner, here only by accident of marriage, caught up in someone else’s revolution, and afraid to die. In that very same instant, I knew that I was not.—Emily Abrera