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1986 EDSA Revolution

The 1986 EDSA Revolution

Was the 1986 EDSA Revolution a coup d’etat?

Coup d’etat is a military takeover of a government. It is unconstitutional, thus it is considered a crime against the state.

I was in 4th year high school then when the 1986 EDSA Revolution happened. It was a weekend of late February, I was watching Discorama hosted by the APO Hiking Society past 6:00 pm, when Jim Paredes announced that there will be a flash report coming in that would change the course of Philippine history.

And man, it really changed the course of Philippine history!

Three Years In The Making

Almost every Filipino would say that the impetus for the 1986 EDSA Revolution was the assassination of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aguino, Jr. on 21 August 1983. Because of his untimely death, people rallied for reforms and for justice.

Cases of disappearances and killing of men or women who were known to be anti-Marcos surfaced.

Snap Elections

So satisfy the call, President Ferdinand Marcos announced an elections which was known as the the 7 Febuary 1986 snap elections. Classes were suspended for almost week because of the crimes and the tension brought about by the election fever.

35 COMELEC employees walked out from the PICC during the canvassing of votes and sought refuge in a Catholic church on 9 February.

Antique Governor Evelio Javier was shot dead on 11 February. His funeral march became a protest rally. Thousands of people had gathered and joined the event to show the government the people’s cry for justice.

Then on 15 February, the Batasan Pambansa, the legislative assembly that time, declared President Ferdinand Marcos as the winner, which of course the opposition did not accept.

So Marcos and Cory Aquino took their oath of office as President of the Republic of the Philippines in two separate locations. The idea of having two presidents was tension-filled kind of crazy that can only be found in the Philippines.

The 1986 EDSA Revolution

So there I was, watching a variety-talk show and then bam! AFP Assistant Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos and National Defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile announced that they withdrew their support of the Marcos administration.

Then all television stations went on live coverage of the “coup d’etat”. Tension rose as one general after another (together with their respective command unit) withdrew their support from the Marcos administration.

It seemed like a long night. Our television and radio were on the whole time. Then events came up one after the other, everything happened too fast — the press conference in Malacanang showing AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver asking permission from President Marcos to bring military troops to Camp Aguinaldo, the call of Cardinal Sin to support non-violence in the street, and the people who started to gather at EDSA (short for Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue), Boni Serrano Avenue, White Plains Road, and Ortigas Avenue.

It was tension-filled, four long days in Philippine history. First because it was the first time that more than a million people from all walks of life gathered at EDSA to support Enrile and Ramos. Second because nobody knew what would happen next as tanks and armed soldiers were there at EDSA waiting for the green light from Malacañang to attack Camp Aguinaldo.

The Aftermath

Relief came when it was announced that Marcos and his family fled to the U.S. People stormed inside the Malacañang palace. You could see the opulence of the Marcoses (the gold-plated fixtures, big bottles of perfumes, unfinished dinner, etc.) and the damage that these people had done on the property.

At that time too, Tito Sotto made a music video, Magkaisa, a song which he composed and interpreted by an unknown singer named Virna Lisa. That became the theme song of that historical event.

While these events were happening, and while we’re advised to stay at home for safety, I was finishing our school assignment: to read Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. With the socio-political theme of Rizal’s second novel, how was that for comparison and contrast?

There were many coup d’etat plots during Cory Aquino’s administration and all failed. Coup plotters were arrested and charged of rebellion.

But what if Enrile and Ramos failed in 1986? What charges could have been filed against them?

Thirty-three years have passed and here we are: still a Third World country and divided by politics. The country is still plaque with graft and corruption, crime, and dirty politics. We might have gained freedom and democracy but we Filipinos are not yet mature enough to handle that freedom and democracy well. And as the years  pass, the glory and significance of the first People Power start to fade.

Columbine High School Massacre

Columbine High School Massacre

On 20 April 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold stormed Columbine High School with pipe bombs and gunshots. They killed 12 students, a teacher, injured 21 people, and committed suicide after. The day coincided with Hitler’s birthday and the release of KMFDM’s album, “Adios“.

No one saw it coming. The massacre became the deadliest high school shooting in US history.

Background

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were senior students of Columbine High School in Colorado. Both loved to play video games like Doom, Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein.

In 1996, Harris created a private website on AOL. It hosted Doom gaming levels he and Dylan created for friends to use. Later on, Harris started a blog about jokes and his thoughts on school, parents, and friends. A year after, Harris posted how to do mischief and how to create bombs.

Harris informed his friend Brooks Brown of his website. Eventually, Brooks’ parents saw the website and have read some threats directed to Brooks. They then filed a complaint at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office. Investigator Michael Guerra found the website disturbing, too. So he wrote an affidavit requesting for a search warrant of the Harris household. But, the affidavit was never filed.

In January 1998, authorities arrested Eric and Dylan for stealing some tools and equipment from a parked van. Both pleaded guilty to the felony theft. They attended a juvenile diversion program where both boys attended mandatory classes which included anger management. They were released from diversion several weeks early because of positive actions in the program.

Harris and Klebold both began keeping journals soon after their 1998 arrests. In these journals, the pair documented their feelings and plans. They also kept videos that documented how they obtained their weapons. They told how they deceived their parents about their activities. They even recorded their target practice in nearby foothills. Approximately thirty minutes before the attack, they made a final video saying goodbye and apologizing to their friends and families.

The Crime

In the early morning of 20 April 1999, Harris and Klebold placed bombs south of Columbine High School. The bombs were set to explode at 11:14 a.m. and intended to divert the attention of firefighters and emergency personnel away from the school.

At 11:10 a.m., Harris and Klebold arrived separately at school. They met and brought duffel bags inside the cafeteria carrying a bomb set to detonate. Then, they went outside and waited for the bombs to explode. They met Brooks Brown along the way and Harris told Brooks to go home.

When the bombs failed to explode, the two returned inside the school. They threw a pipe bomb which partially detonated. Students who saw and heard it thought it was just one of those crude pranks. Then they heard Eric Harris shouted “Go! Go!” Both pulled their guns beneath their trench coats and started shooting. They even exchanged gun fires with policemen.

The shooting took almost 50 minutes but it felt like an eternal nightmare. At around 12:08 p.m., a student overheard Harris and Klebold counted “One! Two! Three!” in unison followed by a loud boom. Eric and Dylan died next to each other. Harris fired his shotgun through the roof of his mouth; Klebold shot himself in the left temple.

The Investigation and Trial

Authorities marked the entire school as a crime scene. They discovered more pipe bombs around the school premises. 15 died and 27 injured. People speculated about Eric’s and Dylan’s motivation. It also raised the issue whether this could have been prevented. The suicide of the two killers made this event difficult to assess.

Police learned that Eric and Dylan had acquired the guns through friends like Mark Manes and Philip Duran. Manes and Duran were charged and sentenced to jail.

The Aftermath and Unanswered Questions

The event sparked debate over gun control laws, high school subcultures (cliques, jocks, nerds, etc.), and bullying. It also raised questions on the use of anti-depressants among teens, Internet use, and violence in video games and films.

Psychologists considered Eric Harris as a clinical psychopath and Dylan Klebold as depressive. People believed that Harris was the mastermind whereas Klebold participated only to end his life.

Also, the event became the script for the next school shootings that happened. Out of twelve school shootings within eight years after Columbine, eight made reference to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

In October 2009, Susan Klebold, Dylan’s mother, spoke for the first time about the incident. She said that she had no clue of her son’s intentions. In an interview with Diane Sawyer, she said she dismissed Dylan’s behavior as something teens usually go through and regretted it. “While every other mother in Littleton was praying that her child was safe, I had to pray that mine would die before he hurt anyone else,” she said about the shooting.  She admitted that the incident will haunt her of the horrors and the anguish Dylan caused. She also wrote a book and had spoken about it on TED Talk. She started promoting mental health awareness and intervention to cope with her loss and “guilt”.

At that time, mental health awareness was not yet a big deal, although we already have known different mental health cases and interventions. Nowadays, it is easy to get advice from professionals even online.

But what baffled me while reading the history of this event is the affidavit Michael Guerra had drafted. Why was it never filed in 1997?  Had it been filed, the massacre plot could have been discovered and foiled.

Then on April 30, high-ranking officials decided not to mention the affidavit at the press conference. Following the press conference, the original Guerra documents disappeared. In September 1999, a Jefferson County investigator failed to find the documents during a secret search of the county’s computer system.

A second attempt in late 2000 found copies of the document within the Jefferson County archives. The documents were found to be reconstructed. It was released to the public in September 2001, but the original documents are still missing. The final grand jury investigation was released in September 2004.

But where are the original documents? What was written in that original report? What could have been the difference between the original and the reconstructed document?

binge-watching

Binge-Watching: Was It Me Time or Lost Time?

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve written my last blog. Three weeks and I haven’t written a single blog since then. I’m shaking my head here. For a writer, that is something pathetic, I admit.

What happened to me? Where did the last three weeks go?

Okay, I’m going to make a confession. I’m giving a heavy sigh and say, I’ve been binge-watching on NetflixiFlix and YouTube.

But first, what is binge-watching? It is also called marathon viewing, a practice of watching a series of movies or TV shows for a span of time.

My first experience of marathon viewing (I’m going to use this term rather than binge-watching because that was the accepted term back then.) was back in 1982 during the annual Metro Manila Film Festival. My cousins and I watched “Himala“, “Ang Panday, Ikatlong Yugto“, and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” in that particular order (if my memory serves me right).

My cousins complained of headache while going home after watching three movies in a single day and I told them I didn’t have any headache at all. In fact, I enjoyed it and was looking forward to watch “Haplos” (of course, I lost the battle there, so off we went home).

But my viewing experience changed when we got a Betamax video player in the house during the ’80s.

You see, I seldom go to a movie theater to watch a film. Thanks to the old Betamax, I was able to appreciate videos. What attracted me to watching videos is the fact that I could watch it on my own time, have the ability to rewind or move it fast forward, and can watch it alone without those talkative house mates beside you.

We used to go to a video rental shop (there was no Video City then) and even requested the attendant to advice us of new releases or reserve these tapes for us when we return. Since then, most of the films I’ve watched were on videos.

Technology and time have changed. Betamax became VHS during the ’90s. It was then that I graduated college and my mom bought me a TV set as one of her gifts.

I started working and got myself my own VCR Player a few years later. I got membership on Video City and my video marathon viewing continued. Although I still find myself going to the movies or watch TV series, these activities became lesser as I enjoy videos more and more. Not only I could select the titles I want to watch, I can decide what time to watch it — it was a choice between weeknights or weekends.

A Video City attendant even took notice of the VHS tapes I rented one Friday evening: six Julia Roberts films.

Then came the VCD and DVD formats. That was the time I started wishing to watch even just the first season of the TV shows I’ve missed. So I started collecting Season 1 of almost all TV shows I wanted to watch (from Friends to Two and a Half Men to How I Met Your Mother with some Grey’s Anatomy, Heroes, Nikita, and Burn Notice in between and many more).

Then, YouTube came and video sharing and streaming sites followed. Video on the Internet has changed the way people see and utilize videos.

Then, Netflix defined on demand viewing and people started to love the idea. Not only that, downloading sites have paved way to acquire these videos easily. Thanks for my friend’s 1TB disk space and a lot of TV series and movies could be stored in an external drive, I was able to binge-watch How to Get Away With Murder Season 1.

Now back to my question, what happened during the past three weeks? Well, I’ve been watching videos on YouTube, Netflix, and iFlix. I couldn’t help but follow through the updates on talk shows I couldn’t watch on cable TV. I don’t watch TV anymore because I know I could select the bits and snippets of them on YouTube from the TV networks’ YouTube channel.

I was able to follow the journey of 4th Impact on the X Factor UK, followed the journey of La Porsha Renae on American Idol Season 15, and I’m excited to know who will win Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 4. And in between those updates, I get to know what issues were tackled on The View, on Today, on Good Morning America, on Ellen, on Wendy Williams Show, and on Steve Harvey shows. And also, I got to see cute kids on The Little Big Shots. And once in a while I get to view documentaries, top tens, and other videos thrown in between.

I could watch old films and TV shows on Netflix and iFlix, too. And I’m enjoying it.

And I must admit, it took a big chunk of my time watching those videos that I was not writing anymore. Now, that’s serious. I was just looking for videos related to the novel I’m writing that I got hooked on watching other related videos. Then another video, then another one… until I collected more than 5 short crime documentaries. I’d reason out that was research. But the other part of my brain say, nope. That’s how my recent binge-watching started.

I know I have to get back to writing. And this blog that you’re reading is already a sign that I’m back.

From Caduceus to Silver Linings Playbook

From Caduceus to Silver Linings Playbook

When I was a kid, I dreamed that I would become a doctor someday — wearing a white uniform, a nameplate with a Caduceus insignia, and a stethoscope hanging on my shoulder. But something changed that and shifted my attention to creative writing.

Yes, I was bitten by the writing bug on my graduation year. A classmate couldn’t believe that I was reading On Writing Well by William Zinsser instead of our Notes on Microbiology inside the UST Main Library, Humanities Section. However, it took years before the great paradigm shift happened.

While managing a small clinic in Makati, I attended a Creative Writing workshop. At that time, a story which I temporarily titled Caduceus brewed in my mind. It was a story based on the medical profession, just like the TV series St. Elsewhere, ER, and Chicago Hope. The story just stayed inside my head until a year later when I joined a script writing workshop sponsored by the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines (FDFPI).

To graduate in the workshop, everyone had to write a screenplay. So Caduceus became Sa Likod ng Puting Uniporme. After a few feedback from my mentor, Nestor U. Torre, I decided to enter the script in a screenwriting competition that same year. Fortunately, it became Finalist/Honorable Mention and got to meet the late National Artist and film director Eddie Romero. But Sa Likod ng Puting Uniporme never became a film.

Fast forward to the present. Recently, I received a writing assignment that required me to watch Silver Linings Playbook and to write a movie review cum term paper in Psychiatric Nursing. I was thankful that I have a background on the medical sciences. The information came in handy.

I may not be practicing my professions but I am proud of my classmates and friends who made it there. I just hope that they are also proud of me in my chosen field. The admiration is just mutual.