By Mauro Gia Samonte
August 21, 2021
We could recall that an extremely minuscule group began agitating for some happening around midnight of February 21, 1986 at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and EDSA in Cubao, Quezon City, to what later on evolved into the EDSA People Power Revolution (Edsa Uno).
The group was waving a singular flag on which were written the words: “August Twenty One Movement ATOM.” The group was calling for the downfall of the government of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. That augured what eventually Corazon C. Aquino would brag as the “bloodless revolt” that brought down the Marcos dictatorship.
Galunggong skyrocketed to P80 per kilogram from the low P28 immediately before Cory assumed the presidency. Meralco, which Marcos had placed in the name of the Filipino people all throughout his rule beginning upon the declaration of martial law in 1972, was restored to the private ownership of the Lopezes, together with the retrieval also by the Lopezes of ABS-CBN.
Meantime, immediately released were Jose Maria Sison, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and Bernabe Buscayno alias Kumander Dante, chief of the New People’s Army (NPA), who were both captured and incarcerated by Marcos together with Ninoy Aquino since 1977. Since Sison’s release and bloody re-assumption of revolutionary leadership, the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front) has shifted back to utter terroristic activities that in due time would divest its insurgency of any pretensions to a legitimate people’s uprising.
Come to think of it, the Sisonite insurgency has been the major factor contributing to the underdevelopment of the Philippines over the past more than half century. From being already second to Japan in economic terms, the Philippines fell into the cellar among Asean nations. It is this pitiful condition of the country which President Duterte has been striving to lift.
But where did this condition begin in the first place?
In the August Twenty One Movement!
Oh, the curse of August 21 upon the nation!
At the start of the colonization by America of the nation, the Thomasites arrived in the Philippines. What were the Thomasites? They were American teachers sent to, in the reckoning of US President William Mackinley, “civilize the Philippine natives.”
The American aggression, which claimed some 200,000 Filipino lives, actually not only subjugated Philippine sovereignty to the United States but also killed the civilization the brown race was already enjoying even long before the earlier Spanish colonization began in 1521.
It would be interesting to dwell on this topic elaborately except that it is not the topic for the day. What this discussion stresses for now was that the Thomasites succeeded in erasing from the Filipinos their ancestral roots and in their stead implanted the now continuing American culture, in words, thought and deed.
The Thomasites crushed the Filipino soul.
When did the Thomasites arrive in the Philippines?
Hold your breath, Aug. 21, 1901!
How ironic that in the progression of history, August 21 seems to be a harbinger of horror for the Philippines.
On August 21,1971, two grenades exploded in the Liberal Party miting de avance (final political rally) in Plaza Miranda, which killed two vendors and seriously wounded more than a hundred others, including the entire senatorial ticket of the Liberal Party – except one, the “star of the show,” the secretary-general of the Liberal Party, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.
In one hearing of the Senate in 1989, former CPP secretary-general Ruben Guevarra revealed that the Plaza Miranda bombing was ordered by Jose Maria Sison. Who is Sison? He conspired with Ninoy Aquino in the establishment of the CPP in 1968.
More than 10 years after the Plaza Miranda bombing, August 21 stood out again as a decisive point in the country’s history.
On that day in 1983, Ninoy, against all expressed warning from various sectors, executed his widely touted historic return from the United States to perform what could be the most ingenious magic in the history of Philippine politics: euthanasia (what the Greeks call “good death” for mercy killing) in order to achieve the heights of heroic martyrdom.
Yes euthanasia, for wasn’t it no less than Salvador Laurel who testified in his “Memoirs” that Ninoy sought him out at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on the summer of 1981 in Boston, Massachusetts and confided to him he “had two more years to live?”
Since his heart bypass operation, his days have been numbered and that instead of dying in bed, he told me “I would rather die in my own country, meaningfully and with a big splash.”
So, a bullet to his skull snuffed out the life of Ninoy at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, thus enshrining him as the hero who intoned, “The Filipino is worth dying for.”
It might be asked, of what use is one killing himself when he won’t live to achieve his obsession to be president of the Philippines?
Oh, yes? Not only the widow of Ninoy had become president of the land as fruit of that self-inflicted death. The son became president after her death. And now increasingly getting similarly aspiring is the youngest daughter.
Nation, beware. Today, Saturday, is another August 21.
What is particularly horrifying about this is that the bombing of Plaza Miranda took place on an August 21, more than just a year to the country’s next presidential elections, which then was slated to take place in 1973. Today is another August 21 preceding another presidential election, slated in 2022.
As Ninoy’s ambition to be president was forever frustrated by the declaration of martial law in 1972, an event that could take place today might just have the effect of frustrating forever someone else’s current presidential election. That declaration of martial law was preceded by the Plaza Miranda bombing on Aug. 21, 1971.
What will happen today that will force the hand of the President – or anyone so constitutionally authorized to do it – to declare martial law and thereby, albeit unintentionally, cancel the elections in 2022.
Time and time again, August 21 has done its historically destined part. What shall this part be this time around?