Briones: Remembering

On the go

HAS it been 33 years already?

My, my. How time flies.

I find myself reminiscing about the past this time of the year maybe because I was witness to one of the most exciting periods of this country’s history.

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly on the Epifanio delos Santos Ave. in Manila along with hundreds of thousands of people on Feb. 25, 1986, but I was in the country, albeit holed up inside a boarding school in Baguio City, and I was of age. That meant I knew what was going on and I knew what was at stake. Or so I thought then.

I don’t remember when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 because I was too young. But I do remember what it was like growing up in the late 1970s.

By then, people had gotten used to living in the “New Society” and went about their ways like normal people would. At least, that was how I saw it.

On Sundays, it was either a trip to Talisay for lechon, goso or grilled squid or that magazine store at the corner of Sanciangko and D. Jakosalem Streets for the latest Marvel or DC comics.

That was the time when a box of Goldilocks brownies from Manila was considered a treat.

There were no malls so most of Cebu went downtown to do their shopping. But if you wanted the latest in fashion or had extra money to spend you’d head uptown.

Of course, there was no traffic back then.

In 1981, our whole family left the country. Our first trip back was in 1983, the day after Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated. That was when the demonstrations and rallies started. But since we stayed in Cebu, I only caught glimpses of the unrest on TV. I didn’t know how bad the situation was until my dad sent me to Brent Baguio in 1985.

Even then, we were sheltered from what was happening outside since we were only allowed out during weekends and only for certain hours. But there were the occasional whispers. Our headmaster was a known Marcos loyalist so politics was never discussed on the table unless, of course, you raved about the Marcoses.

Unbeknown to most of us, things were heating up in Manila, which forced Marcos to call a snap election in the first week of February 1986.

We had animated discussions in our rooms, but whatever it was that was happening outside remained outside. That changed a few days before the 25th. Suddenly, there were talks of airlifting our American classmates. That the school could be a target of an NPA attack.

But then Marcos was ousted and everyone had a party. Life returned to normal.

I know. It’s not what you might imagine from someone who lived through what some sectors described as a dark period in our history, but hey, I can’t revise my past.


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