When I entered the State University in 1995, EDSA ‘86 was farthest from my mind. But of course the President then was EDSA icon Fidel Ramos, Juan Ponce Enrile was in the Senate, and Gringo Honasan was running for a seat in it. I remember being enamoured of Gringo, his rebellious self something that I could relate to. I remember a blockmate saying she couldn’t imagine voting for someone who attempted those coup d’etats against Cory, for how could someone so violent stand as lawmaker of the land? I remember not knowing what to say.
It would be the same silence with regard to EDSA ’86, despite my proximity to it given Angela’s work. And despite the fact that it was interesting enough for me – I knew enough of its importance – to actually use it for school requirements. In a 1996 Speech Communication class, while the speech-to-inform requirement had my classmates doing cooking demos to speak of a process, I did the four days of EDSA. In a Cory yellow shirt, with a hand-drawn illustration of EDSA tacked to the blackboard to show the movements of people and tanks around Camps Crame and Aguinaldo, I talked about the four days in three minutes – two more minutes were allotted for introduction and conclusion.
I ended with a flourish: this is based on my mother’s book on EDSA published this year, I said, as a I propped up a copy of her book on the teacher’s desk. My teacher borrowed the book at the end of my report, and after class said: ‘yun pala ang nangyari do’n ano? referring to my (mother’s) narrative that highlighted how it was chronologically clear that the people were moving on their own, beyond anyone’s control or expectation, and despite the icons of EDSA insisting on their versions of the story. EDSA was in fact about people power.
Another blockmate was less impressed by Angela’s book: nag-compile lang naman siya, ano? he said with an almost smirk.
And once again, I didn’t know what to say. I saw Angela labor over this book through much of my growing years, knew of how it had meant having her go to the Ramoses’ home, saw the prototypes for the cover that Mang Nonoy Marcelo had done for that 1992 version for Ramos’s presidential campaign ED Sa ’92. Had gone with her to do that interview with Baby Arenas after the deal with Ramos fell through. I was at the book launch and was excited to see Cory go to her table to thank her. It was the same pride I took in having the Nick Joaquin do the Foreword for The Chronology, because the Comparative Literature major in me had yet to be jaded about the literary establishment and the National Artist Award as an institution.
I could’ve name-dropped Mang Nick when that blockmate dismissed Angela’s labor of history for The Chronology: tse! Mang Nick da National Artist doesn’t think it’s “a compilation lang” ‘no! But I had yet to even know to say that.
I had yet to learn taray, apparently. There was a lot to learn about EDSA, too. ***