EPIFANIO de los Santos Avenue. February 1986. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos. President Ferdinand Marcos. Corazon Aquino. Benigno Aquino Jr., Jaime Cardinal Sin. The Filipinos -- soldiers, men, women, children, nuns, priests, brothers, people from all walks of life (even those who can not walk and see).

Aug. 21, 1983. Ninoy Aquino Jr. was assassinated at the Manila International Airport. It fueled the anger of the Filipinos. It further united the people…the famished squatters, the discontented professionals, the Makati elites, and the frustrated soldiers. Confetti rained in the commercial districts of Metro Manila.

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President Ferdinand Marcos was compelled to call for snap presidential elections on Feb. 7, 1986 to prove that he still got the trust of the majority of the people. That political zarzuela was well scripted and orchestrated. Marcos won against Cory Aquino, the yellow duster-wearing wife of the late Senator Aquino.

That Marcos “colorful victory” started the biggest earthquake in his political career. The writings on the wall on his administration were made clear -- government overspending, extensive graft and corruption, nepotism, crony capitalism, human rights violations, horrible poverty, social inequity, rural deterioration, ascending criminality, agrarian-labor unrest, over-flowing student unrest, insurgency in more areas, threat from the secessionists (MNLF, MILF), population explosion, problem in educational system, dying economy and negative image of the Philippines in the community of nations.

On February 22, Enrile and Ramos declared their withdrawal of support from Marcos. Radio Veritas was the mouthpiece of this historic verdict. Cardinal Sin was emphatic in calling his flock to support the rebel soldiers at Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo.

Cory who was in Cebu spearheading protest rallies was also surprised by the turn of events in Metro Manila. Chief of Staff Fabian Ver was like a hungry dog waiting to be unleashed…waiting for the order of his ailing master. Stout hearted Filipinos started to assemble at EDSA.

On Feb. 23 (Sunday), Radio Veritas went off the air. People flooded at EDSA bringing food to be shared, transistor radios, and priests held masses in the highway. The whole stretch appeared like a picnic area, just like “Woodstock”. “Cat and Cat” maneuvers started. Marcos appeared on television saying that his government is in good shape and has the support of the Filipinos and Big Brother America. The astute Ramos was bluffing with his unlighted cigar. The fiendish Ver was bubbling. Enrile was fondling his favorite Virgin Mary statue.

Enrile crossed over to Camp Crame to join Ramos. Of course, Gringo Honasan and the rest of Enrile’s boys were tailing. At 3 p.m., General Artemio Tadiar brought in his tanks and marines in full battle gear just like what we see in the movies. But the priests were there with the nuns. They were in unison praying the rosary.

On February 24 (Monday), the imaginative pro-rebel group took over Radio DZRJ and started the underground broadcast calling the base as “Radyo Bandido.” The spirited anchormen started to reveal the movements of the troops loyal to Marcos. That was media heroism!

There was humid tenseness in the air when the seven helicopter gun ships under Antonio Sotelo were ordered to attack Camp Crame. But, Sotelo was an officer and a gentleman. He can not afford history to be written in blood. He defected to rebel side and received lollipops, hugs, kisses and roses from the beautiful girls who were at the frontline.

The Tadiar tanks and marines attempted to plow the rebel lines but they were prevented by the waves of singing-chanting-praying-and saint-carrying Filipinos. Probably, Tadiar and his tough guys felt the tapping of the Big Bro, so, they decided to pull back with their arms slinging to avoid the punishment of fire in hell.

The “Games of the Generals” went on. “Radyo Bandido” broadcast that Marcos fled to test the reaction of the people. There was celebration, Filipinos were rejoicing. Marcos was shocked to know what his countrymen would do if he is gone. He appeared on Channel 4 with Gen. Ver who was asking him to give order to start the execution. Marcos did not answer Ver. He appeared like a steamed shrimp. Later, a retired colonel and a reformist, Mariano Santiago had taken over Channel 4, a “tuta” station, and renamed it the “People’s Television.”

Before sunset, the Sotelo gun ship helicopters riddled with bullets the loyalist helicopters at Villamor Airbase. A rocket fire was hurled at Malacañang. There was a minor damage and Imelda Marcos cried like a puppy because her orchid garden was hit. Poor Waling-waling!

Majority of the government soldiers defected to the rebel group, Marcos ordered a “dusk to dawn” curfew. “Those who violate will suffer severe penalty!” The Filipinos laughed at the joke. They thought it was Willy Nepomoceno giving order. There was caravan in major Metro Manila streets. People were shouting and flashing a “Laban” sign. Cory! Cory! Cory! Cory!

Cory Aquino came on TV and announced the setting up of a provisional government. So, on February 25, 1986—Corazon C. Aquino took her oath of office as the seventh president of the Republic of the Philippines before Claudio Teehankee, senior justice of the Supreme Court, at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan. This was covered by the People’s Television.

Marcos had his own inauguration also at Malacañang. The first family was there with flaglet-carrying loyalists. The last Marcos hurrah was covered by Channels 2, 9 and 13. But, it went “pufft!” because the rebel soldiers took over the transmitter tower of the said stations. The last face of Marcos seen on television was corrugated. Poor Apo!

Marcos made a call to his best friend and Minister of National Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, to negotiate for a sharing of power in the Provisional Government but Enrile realistically cut off his umbilical cord with the man who created him. How cute!

Ferdie’s last hope was the intervention of Uncle Sam. He called up Senator Paul Laxalt, his dependable friend-patron-sponsor-benefactor. Laxalt gave him this unforgettable classic statement which will live in Philippine history, “It is time to cut, and cut clearly.” After that, tears rolled down from the eyes of a dictator. That was the end of the man who called himself the legendary “Malakas”.

He made a last call to Enrile. “Do me a favor. Give safe conduct for my family.” That was not a voice of a strong man, of a President. That was the voice of a loser begging favor from a friend. At nine in the evening, “Malakas and Maganda”, and the rest of the Marcoses left Malacañang with heavy heart and heavy luggage. To Clark Airbase, then to Guam and to Hawaii…not to dance hula or enjoy water surfing, but as exiles. Aloha!