Wednesday, February 1, 2006

My EDSA 1 Memories

I've written the thing below about 20 years ago, second year college. The original manuscript was almost unreadable but it is much longer than what's in here. This is just bits and pieces of that long ago note. Some names and even gender here I took the liberty to change. Ahh... the magic of writing. Shazaaam!!!

Feb. 24, 1996.

That was the third time he'd done it. Whenever Engr. Tulio, our teacher for this afternoon, talks and writes on the board, Philip would raise the volume of his AM/FM Walkman up a notch.

There were only a handful of us in this classroom, and we are restless.

February was an election month and of walkouts. Two weeks ago NAMFREL counters walked-out, a week ago some members of the Batasan walked-out, last Saturday, Enrile and Ramos walked-out, then people walked-out on the street. Today, Monday, February 24 many students walked-out. The LFS, Tau Gamma, Phi Beta and the likes were encouraging everybody to walk-out and go to Manila. This LFS guy who's trying to make a go with my girlfriend told me that, me and Grace could go with him. They have free transportation and food he says. But look here, our teacher is more particular on us being present in his classroom than our grades, and I don't want my girl to be with this puss face. The latter reason being the greatest reason. Besides, most of us here only have money for two Red Horse.

This morning I've helped my father open his motorcycle repair shop like I always do. I bicycled my way from Dau to Balibago, that's 10K more or less, open the shop, and took out the dilapidated motorcycles for display, listened to the Toshiba radio.

At twelve thirty in the afternoon I bicycled my way to Angeles University Foundation together with Mark with his 15 speed Shimano. All the while from morning till that time, radios keeps going on and on and on. Everybody's ears were glued to only one radio station for the past two days or so. There was this "Enough is enough, Mr. President". There was this Kitly girl telling us what's happening in Manila. Television stations keeps on getting off the air.

And so there he goes again, Philip has turned the walkman at full blast. We called him Philip because he chain-smoke Philip Morris, but at his back we call him "Flip" because we could not fathom his micro-wavelength, think he's from another part of the galaxy. This guy drives a volks that smells of MaryJane. Got one ear almost clipped of f by an ROTC Officer when that officer tried to cut his patilla. He's rich and he's arrogant, he's a Flip.

For the nth time of being bothered Engr. Tulio was not the least bemused by Philip's actuation or behavior. He could see that nobody's paying attention to him any more, and everybody's ears were magnetized by that walkman. And yes, we know that the lesson he's conveying was half-heartedly delivered. He's got an ear also pointed at that walkman. Then the fat lady sang. He went towards Philip.

"Can't you make that louder?" he asked Philip. Philip said that that's it. They sat together. Philip lighted a cigarette, took two puffs and let that thing dangle between his index and mid-finger. Us smokers took the cue. Took a seat or took our seats near the window. For once the oscillating fans took a beating.

It cracked and shuddered us when we heard the song Bayan Ko being sung by a gazillion Pilipinos over and over. Normal Pinoys, cassocked Pinoys, rich Pinoys, armed Pinoys, non-Filipino Pinoys. A few of us sang also, Philip hummed it, and that cigarette ash is already two inches, just a millimeter away from burning his fingers. This was a tearjerker view. Halt by halt we either sang or hummed it. Somebody on the hallway said that Marcos left the palace, and we'd gave the high five and the slow roll hand clap. Is that a tear on Vargas eyes? It is. Somebody's bashing some chairs. There was a shout of "YAAAAHHHH!!!" heard on the whole second floor and beyond.

But it was not true, Marcos is still there. And then there was silence. A foreboding doom is felt. Is this coup going to get what it deserves? Will the efforts of those in Manila who wants to topple the dictator get shot at? Bullet-riddled LFS guy? Will this be a fruitless effort? The walkman goes on and on. Yet we were silent. We've got into deep and thorough thinking.

Engr. Tulio being true to form and seeing that we are not seeing anything anymore, tried to break the ice. He made a little oh-hum sound from his throat to clear his airways, red-eyed from suppressing that inevitable tear. "Well, look. Just a little discussion to make you feel better, o.k?" We said our ok. Then he said "Based on your experience, who do you think was the best president to lead this country?"

There was no answer. The clock ticked away. One minute, two minutes. Three minutes. Times up. Nobody's answering.

Salungsong made a gurgling sound from her throat to clear her airways and said, "Sir, we have only seen one president."

Engr. Tulio : "Oh…"

Then it hit me. I was born in 1966, today it's 1986. Going twenty years old and seeing only one president. Well, sheeeet, I was being deprived of seeing at least three president more. That's life.

Me, Mark, Egay and Botong went out of the classroom, went out of AUF campus crossed the road, went to our favorite hang-out "United Canteen". Botong shelled a peso put it on the slot of that jukebox, automatically by memory pressed the numbers for Dire Straits' Money For Nothing and the Police's Murder By Numbers. We sat. We're restless. We don't want any drinks. So we decided to go home. There's history in the making. We'd rather listen to the radio today.

Me and Mark got inside the AUF campus again to get our bikes. Then I went ape sheeeet. Both of my bikes tires were flat. It's that LFS guy. I knew for sure….

(Her name is June Keithley. I am watching TV right now)

(originally posted on February 1, 2006)

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