EDSA Dos at Twelve: A Historical Repression

Today is the twelfth anniversary of the conspiracy that ousted Former President Joseph Estrada from Malacañan Palace and put Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the helm of power in January 2001. We commonly know it by the name of EDSA Dos. And no one seems to give a damn to throw a celebration.




I have been observing the internet (Twitter, Facebook, and news websites) the whole day and only a handful posted stuff about the day that changed our Political history. I searched the word “EDSA” on Twitter earlier and I only saw less than 10 tweets (mine included) about EDSA dos. GMA News’ YouScoop tweeted a query, asking their followers about the lessons of EDSA dos but that was it. The results are mostly MMDA’s traffic update on EDSA and some commuters’ rant on how horrendous the traffic situation at EDSA is. 

How come nobody commemorated the events that happened eleven years ago at EDSA Shrine? Maybe because we are too busy celebrating the Sinulog Festival and the feast of the Santo Nino.  Maybe because some of us choose to watch and discuss Les Miserables and Ricky Lo’s interview with Anne Hathaway instead. Or too engrossed with the Atimonan, Quezon shooting and the US Warship that destroyed a part of the Tubbataha Reef.

Or is it because EDSA Dos is considered a nightmare, a dark part of our history that should be forgotten and should never be repeated again? Maybe yes.

Where were you eleven years ago?

I was eleven years old then, a graduating student in Elementary. The last days of the impeachment trial and the mass protest in EDSA Shrine coincided with our third quarterly exams. Prior to that, whenever I go home early from school, I see to it that I watch the impeachment trial. I can still remember how my classmates and I would horse around, imitating the Chief Justice, the Prosecution, and the Defense Panel. The words Objection your honor, overruled, and sustained became a part of our daily conversation.

I remember watching the controversial voting whether to open the second envelope or not with my father. I can still recall how Senators Pimentel and Drilon hugged each other and in tears, how Senator Legarda wept, how Chief Justice Davide removed his judicial robe, how the Prosecution panel resigned and walked out in disgust, and how the aunt of our current President, Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta danced a la dougie in jubilation. Minutes after the controversial decision, the streets are filled with protesters, the car owners are blowing their horns, and the members of the crowd in EDSA Shrine, increased in number.

The next day, I remember my father putting up a printout of JOE’S COHORTS in the windshield of our car as a sign of protest. It is a mnemonic of the Senators who opposed the opening of the second envelope – Jaworski, Oreta, Enrile, Santiago, Coseteng, Osemeña, Honasan, Ople, Revilla, Tatad.

Text messaging was a new technology then (there were no unlimited text and calls promos though) and it also helped to spread the message to gather in EDSA Shrine and force the President to step down from office. As expected, ERAP jokes became rampant to taunt President Estrada. The Senators who opposed the opening of the second envelope were also not spared from taunts and heckling. Some of the famous lines then which I can still remember are Tadtarin si Tatad!, Oreta Dancing Queen!, and  Ninoy Aquino’s photo with the lines ‘My sister is not worth dying for’.

The protest to became festive with artists and bands performing at the stage and with the presence of, uhm, some artistas. (The most memorable personality then was President Estrada’s friend, Nora Aunor, who joined the crown on calling him to resign). But if there is one song which I can associate with the protest, it would be Sam the Sham and the Paraoh’s ‘Wooly Bully’ which the protesters sang as ‘Huling-huli! Si Erap! Huling-huli!

Though I was not present with the protesters during that time, for obvious reasons, I made myself updated by constantly tuning in to news programs on television. And some of the memories were still vivid because when I was in high School, my tambayan is our library and I have repeatedly read this coffee table book:




The President was twelve eleven years ago today and his Vice President succeeded him – with the help of the high-ranking military officials, political and business elites, and the Catholic Church led by Jaime Cardinal Sin. Conspiracy, as they say, to oust the President extra-constitutionally, a de facto coup that led to the  proclamation of Gloria Arroyo.

In the later months and years, Erap would be arrested, EDSA tres would happen, Erap would come out saying he was forced to sign a resignation paper during the height of EDSA Dos, and Gloria Arroyo would become the infamous President that we know today.

Was EDSA Dos a historical success? No. Did it play an important part in history? Maybe, but what we learned more are lessons for the future of our country.

A contemporary Filipino writer who goes by the pen name Bob Ong, wrote something about EDSA Dos in his book Stainless Longganisa. He compared the protest in EDSA to drinking antibiotics to cure a disease.

He wrote that it is wrong to immediately go to the street to call for the resignation of a leader – or to immediately drink antibiotic without first consulting the doctor. Time will come that the bacteria would become immune to antibiotics and it would be more difficult to cure the disease. Just like the cancer of our society, the more we use the usual way of cure, that is, to march in the streets and call for change, time might come that the usual way will no longer work for us. And worse, during the time when we really need change.

Many of the prominent personas involved during the EDSA Dos have already expressed their regret on being a part of that event. And maybe, most of the participants in EDSA and in key cities of the country who helped, in a way, put Gloria Arroyo into power in 2001 did the same.

It is said that we cannot change history, and that there are no ifs in it. But we can always carve the future of our country. May the lessons of the events of yesteryears be a guide on making a better future for our country.

Today is the twelfth anniversary of EDSA Dos. Did it already become a repressed memory? Do you still give a damn about it?

Today is the twelfth anniversary of the EDSA Dos. And no one seems to gives a damn to throw a celebration. And I don’t think the woman who replaced Joseph Estrada, who is now detained at the Presidential Suite of Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center, is celebrating either.