EDSA 1986: Looking from the other side of the fence

Gina Lumauig

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The daughter of Marcos's former public information minister share this piece of EDSA ’86 from an entirely different perspective

(Editor’s Note: This story is first published by Newsbreak.)

MANILA, Philippines – Flashback 1986.  I was a graduating Broadcast Communication student of the University of the Philippines.  I was trying my very best to finish my academic subjects. I knew I was going to be a Summer graduate since my thesis topic had just been approved.

I was being the typical student – keeping up, getting by, attending classes, submitting requirements.

My mom and older sister had just left for Mexico to attend a conference of travel agencies; if I’m not mistaken, the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) Convention. I could not wait for them to come back home and have my chocolates & my stationeries.

I was being the typical daughter and sibling – envious because I could not travel with them, but excited for the pasalubongs they would bring.

It was also a time of political turmoil. Three years before that, Ninoy Aquino was assassinated at the tarmac upon arriving from self-exile in the United States. It was a chaotic time, and although the opposition hoped for the toppling of the overstaying  President Marcos, it just would not happen then.

But February 1986 seemed to be the right time. Then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, together with Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos and Lt. Col. Gringo Honasan, announced their defection from the Marcos government. Cardinal Sin called on the people to take to the streets. And people did start walking and staying in the streets. History was about to unfold.

I remember that first night when there were radio reports of a defection.  I was in Manila then, about to go home (we lived in the Katipunan area). I asked my driver to go inside Camp Aguinaldo to take a look.

It was quiet.  Nothing was amiss. In fact, it was unusually dark. But then again, it was typical energy saving mode of the government, I thought then. So I went home, and again started working on my draft thesis, my assignments, my requirements.

Within a few hours though, indeed the defection was confirmed. I immediately asked my two older brothers where our dad was. Out, they said. Isn’t he supposed to come home already, given the building situation, I asked. They fell silent.

I was worried. Dad, a journalist by profession, first governor of Ifugao, ambushed & survived 16 years earlier, was then the Minister of Public Information under the Marcos government.*

He was holed up somewhere in Manila. He was being discouraged from travelling home. He might put his family at risk. He was in regular contact with my brothers, assuring them that he was safe, telling them to keep watch.

When I got him to talk to me on the phone, I was in tears. My mom was away, my sisters were away, and suddenly I felt alone, and afraid.

People were glued to their radio sets, listening to updates about the defection, the call for people to go to the streets. I was glued to the radio, because I was worried for my father, a Marcos loyalist.

I never heeded the call of Cardinal Sin to go to the streets. I never wore yellow. I never saw the confetti, the nuns giving rosaries and flowers to the soldiers, the people chanting and being festive on the streets, shouting and making the “L” sign. Laban! Laban! Laban!

I was on the other side of the fence. I was, literally, home.

I was 21, an Iskolar ng Bayan, exposed to campus protests and a witness to the political instability that the government had created.

A year earlier, he called me and my older sister in his room. He asked if it was true that we have been actively attending campus protests denouncing the government.

We asked him where the information came from. He said his sister who was then working for NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) received reports that daughters of a ranking Marcos official were in fact demonstrating against Marcos.

We were perplexed. Apparently, NICA agents roam the universities and take photos during protests. Then they identify people in the photos. And that was how they reported that Lumauig daughters were protesting against Marcos. A major no-no.

My older sister who was the more rebellious one simply replied that perhaps we just happened to pass by the crowd of protesters and that was when photos were taken. He just said, be careful.

We understood and accepted where my father was coming from. And what his job entailed. It was, after all, just a job. Trabaho lang.

It was Marcos who entrusted to him the job of being the first governor of Ifugao after it was separated from the Mountain Province. He was then working under  Secretary Salas in Malacanang.

It was Marcos who, after being ambushed in Banaue after meeting the mayors of Ifugao, arranged for his immediate transfer to Veterans Hospital and undergo emergency surgery on his badly damaged left arm, and who later sent him to America for further treatment and rehabilitation.

It was Marcos who gave him his political break, and who saved his life.

And so my father did not turn his back on Marcos in 1986. Yes, it was just a job, but he also had a sense of gratitude. Ifugao in 1967 was one of the poorest provinces and the roads were just pitiful.

Through the Marcos administration and my father’s leadership, the roads were cemented, schools were erected, and their livelihood problems were being addressed.

He never asked me not to go to the streets. But he did not have to.

I was Iskolar ng Bayan, politically aware, not insensitive to the decaying state of the nation.But I was also my father’s daughter. It was not out of respect to the Marcoses. It was out of respect for my dad.

And so I stayed on the other side of the fence. No chanting, no “L: sign, no yellow shirts, no arm-in-arm with the nuns. I was home. Waiting for my father to come home. – Rappler.com

About the author: Gina is an educator, entrepreneur, and Executive Director of the UP College of Mass Communication Foundation. She is a proud mother of two, and the doting daughter of her 77-year old parents, Bert and Esing. She wants to share this piece of Edsa ’86 from an entirely different perspective.

Editor’s Note: Ms. Lumauig’s father is Gualberto Lumauig. Before serving as Minister of information towards the latter part of the Marcos administration, he served as first governor of the newly created Ifugao province, upon appointment by President Marcos beginning March 1967.In 1980, he was elected assemblyman representing Ifugao province.

After the 1986 People Power  which booted Marcos out of office, Lumauig ran and won as congressman in 1988. Lumauig also served as Lakas party spokesman under Pres. Fidel V. Ramos  from 1993-1998.

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