What the Twitter cat fight between Gringo Honasan and Jim Paredes reveals about the Edsa "spirit"

I read with bemusement the catty exchange between Jim Paredes and Gringo Honasan that was immortalised on Twitter.com last Friday, the 25th February. Imagine two senior citizens of the Republic -- both household names and key figures in a "revolution" touted as one that defines Filipinos' place in history at that -- engaged in a tiff of the sort that would draw cheers and hoots the way a mud wrestling match would. Hold that thought and draw a hard association between that and this "spirit" of Edsa that we are supposed to re-visit, and there you have what the whole exercise was really all about.

I myself once quipped over Twitter: "You know who owns Edsa? ABS-CBN." Indeed, even in this one -- a "virtual round-table discussion" organised by Newsbreak.ph -- whilst everyone else came out of it as chumps, it was Big Media that ends up laughing all the way to the bank. Ka-ching! -- more content for the "news"!

Apply a bit of empathy in our effort to understand where each party in this little cat-fight was coming from and perhaps we may glean a bit of insight. Gringo the serial mutineer after 25 years probably still has an axe to grind with the "civil society" barons who hijacked his "revolution". Apo Jim Paredes for his part remains incensed by Philippine society's calculating warrior class's political aspirations; their alleged mission to seize power (what Jim probably refers to as their "agenda") that is diametrically opposed to the supposedly agenda-less fiesta of "the people".

As Amando Doronila noted in his recent Inquirer.net piece "Military hijacks EDSA 1 commemoration":
With the domination of the EDSA narrative by the military sector, with their recollections of the events leading to the ouster of Marcos, the celebration today, Feb. 25, of the hand-over of power to the civilian segment (people power) of the revolution, the climax of street uprising, has become anti-climactic. The recollections of the key military figures—Ramos, Enrile, Honasan—(see their reminiscences published in the Inquirer the past three days) hardly mentioned the importance of the unarmed people on EDSA in toppling Marcos. These were the people (everyone who was at EDSA) marching on foot on the highway, risking their lives to stop on Ortigas Avenue tanks advancing to attack Camp Crame.

Indeed, perhaps some of these civilians "risked" their lives on Edsa over those four days in 1986. But then as for the majority of the millions who were "there", this assertion becomes arguable. My own personal experience attests to the basis for the embarrassment I feel when those who were "there" are described as "heroes":
I doubt if any of the majority folk who were "there" and proclaim their "pride" in being there would have actually gone "there" if the scale of the unknown they faced was even half of the vastness and darkness of the unknown that Ramos, Enrile, Honasan, and the other RAM soldiers faced.

My personal experience was probably the same as 95 percent of city dwellers who trooped to Edsa in 1986. Prior to that we were all living -- under the regime of Ferdinand Marcos -- pretty normal lives. Our parents were all gainfully employed. We went to parties in Makati and Corinthian Gardens. Going to Edsa to "be there" was not something that we perceived to be dangerous and was therefore an easy choice to make. It was literally a walk in the park.

Compare the chaotic massing of a throng of would-be "revolutionaries" in one of the Philippines' now-renowned street "revolutions", with a typical military operation which is always purposeful, defined around an objective or mission, and more often than not organised and led by commanders qualified to lead, and we can see how what Gringo and what Jim respectively represent differ fundamentally. This difference describes the starkness of the contrast between the sector of society who prevailed and now basks in the limelight of the foreground -- the civilian political complex that governs today -- and our armed forces who were relegated, and now languish silhouetted in the background.

The emo "civil society" today rules the Philippines with the flaccid wishy-washiness that is singularly characterised by a lack of a tangible mission, a lack of an enlightened direction, and a lack of a consistent tack. Perhaps as this flaccid no-results situation under the watch of the emo constituency passes its ironically celebrated 25th anniversary milestone, both the science of militarism and the expeditiousness of dictatorship begins to regain appeal among an increasingly disillusioned and impatient people.

Notwithstanding the glibness of this remark...

ABS-CBN own the "People Power" EDSA "revolution".

... there was, in hindsight, a method to the way emos hijacked the "revolution" of 1986. It was all showbiz.

Jim Paredes embodies the way "Edsa" was annexed as a lucrative asset by the ABS-CBN conglomerate and bound to a specific feudal clan -- through emotionally-charged song, dazzling dance, and nebulous symbolism, the cultural artifact now known simply as "Edsa" was created.

Indeed, as the Aquino family newsletter "reported" on the 25th of February 2011 festivities marking the silver anniversary of "Edsa" how "Music recharge[d] the Edsa spirit". Indeed, song and dance are the usual temporary relief measures we turn to every now and then to recharge from the more onerous task of facing reality. That the "Edsa" spirit constantly requires "re-kindling" using these cultural opiates is quite telling.


  1. What is the 25th celebration of EDSA but another start of a long weekend for students and a long wait during rush for folks who want to get home?

    All the rekindling efforts show how insignificant the 'spirit' is to everyone else who has lives to live. And Pnoy wants the next generation to learn and appreciate the 'spirit' of EDSA?

  2. It's easy to drop words like "spirit", "essence", and "hopes" when making melodramatic speeches and singing emo songs in front of a throng of people with nothing better to do on an otherwise nice weekend. What separates true statesmen from little boys playing "president" is the ability to substantiate these flowery words with a concrete vision and a tangible plan for how to get there.

  3. "abs-cbn own the people power edsa 'revolution'"...true.

    so glad i was away for the weekend. what really is there to celebrate? and yes, it's all showbiz, and our masses are lapping it up.

    great article benign0!!

  4. Thanks. And we were all a good audience. ;-)


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