02 March 2008


Just for the record, I published this in my column in The Philippine Star on Dec. 20, 2007:


Will there be an EDSA 4? You can bet your life there will be. History repeats itself, whether we like it or not.

The first student demonstration I remember was in the very early sixties, when a handful of students walked around the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines with placards protesting the increase in campus jeepney fare from 5 centavos to 10 centavos.

Today, we have more than a handful of jeepney drivers protesting the rise in fuel prices.

The first demonstration that I myself joined was shortly after, when dozens of U.P. students boarded rented buses (disrupting traffic by walking on the streets was not yet in the vocabulary of rallyists) to go to Congress (now the National Museum) to protest the Spanish Law. That law required all college students to take up 24 units of Spanish.

Today, we have Gloria Arroyo announcing that Spanish will once again be required for all students.

During that anti-Spanish Law demonstration, I found myself on the wrong side of a rifle, pointed straight at me by a cop. As far as I know, there was only one cop then who had a rifle, and I was unlucky enough to be right in front of him. At that time, nobody arrested anyone. We just all returned to our buses to the safety of the Diliman campus.

Today, everybody gets confronted by cops or soldiers with barbed wire, tear gas, guns, and tanks. Everyone gets arrested, even media persons and bystanders.

Not long after, Constitutional Convention delegate Eduardo Quintero exposed the giving of cash by Marcos to delegates to vote against a provision disallowing a term extension for the dictator.

Recently, Governor Ed Panlilio exposed Malacanang's cash gifts to governors and congresspersons; the cash was given to ensure that Arroyo's term would not be shortened by a genuine impeachment process.

I was away for most of the really exciting years (now nostalgically called the First Quarter Storm), but students then risked their lives telling the world that Ferdinand Marcos was the most corrupt president the country had ever known.

Today, Arroyo is regarded by a majority of Filipinos as the most corrupt president the country has ever known, even outcorrupting Marcos.

I was in the country for EDSA 1. At that time, nobody thought people would fight back against the corruption and moral bankruptcy of Marcos and company. Everybody thought Marcos was invincible, since he had Fabian Ver, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Fidel Ramos.

If you think Arroyo will stay until 2010 and can stay out of jail after 2010 because she has Hermogenes Esperon, Raul Gonzalez, and Ronaldo Puno, think again. Marcos's staunch allies Enrile and Ramos led EDSA 1 and Joseph Estrada's staunch ally Angelo Reyes escorted Erap out of Malacanang during EDSA 2. There is no such thing as a staunch ally when the people are in a foul mood.

Just before EDSA 1, we had Ninoy Aquino sacrificing his life and an incorruptible Cory Aquino standing up to the tyrant. We had an alternative to Marcos.

Today, according to the UN, hundreds of media persons and activists have been killed by the government. There are now a number of people standing up for our rights, for example, Loren Legarda, Reynato Puno, Mar Roxas, Antonio Trillanes, and Manny Villar (in alphabetical order), who have never been rumored to be corrupt. We now have alternatives to Arroyo.

When I wrote my play Tao in 1970, practically everybody said that my prediction in that PETA production that martial law would be declared would never come true.

In 1972, martial law was indeed declared, and the rest, unfortunately, is not just history but our present and most likely our future as well.

Therefore, my fearless forecast for 2008 is that martial law will be declared and there will be an EDSA 4, not necessarily in that order.

Of course, now that there is no more open space on EDSA, since colorum buses occupy all the lanes, the next uprising might have to be done elsewhere, maybe even in virtual space. History always repeats itself one way or another.

The week after (Dec. 27, 2007), I published this in the same column:

REACTION TO LAST WEEK'S COLUMN: A reader pointed out that I missed one parallelism between 1972 and 2008. Ferdinand Marcos denied that he was sick, but after he left MalacaƱang Palace, we discovered that he had to have a hospital bed installed in the palace so he could keep his various diseases secret. Today, Gloria Arroyo denies that she is seriously sick, but she was rushed to St. Luke's Medical Center several times last year for what are euphemistically called "check-ups." Yes, indeed, history is repeating itself.

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