In Search for Buchokoy
A message of Facebook, a phone call, and at least two attempts to set up a meeting led to an interview with veteran journalist Ed Lingao regarding Baron Buchokoy's short animation films.
Before meeting Ed, I tried to get in touch with Baron by sending him a private message on Facebook and posting a for him in our common Facebook Group - the Get Real Philippines Community.
After hours and hours of waiting, there was no response from Baron.
Looking at Baron's Facebook Account, it seems his last activity was on February 11, 2012 when he posted photos on an album at 4:09 PM.
It was November 7 last year when I first got a message from Baron after pestering him a bit to grant an interview at a time when one of his more popular animation videos was going viral.
I must have forgotten to respond to his offer to conduct the interview via questionnaires.
Remembering things differently and then boldly claiming it is the 'truth'
Only now, after looking at the message again after several months and remembering what I said to Ed in the interview, I realize that I had made a mistake in relaying what he actually said in Baron's message to me. (Which is probably a lesson that what we think we remember isn't all that truthful and can be completely wrong.)
Here's what I told Ed and it is vastly different from what Baron actually said:
In one message last year, Farol told Buchokoy that a reporter wanted to schedule an interview with him. Buchokoy replied that he would rather remain anonymous. “He said, ‘It is better that no one surfaces, so that people just focus on the work and the message that I’m trying to give’,” Farol recounts.
Which brings now brings me to the article that Ed Lingao wrote in his most recent PCIJ article which is aptly subtitled "Short memories, unfinished businesses".
Reading the article again, I think I may have faltered in conveying the Baron's intentions for the video and might have said something quite different.
I think there was a point when Ed said that certain people like Mon Casiple thought that Baron was pro-Marcos and was actually putting out propaganda on their behalf by re-writing history.
I had answered this way:
He also doesn’t think that Buchokoy’s take on EDSA is a rewriting of history. Says Farol: “I think everyone came from EDSA with their own story. Each person who walked between the length of those two camps came out with their story. Maybe this is Baron’s story. Maybe his parents were there. Maybe he heard the story and absorbed it and then made his own story about EDSA. One view of EDSA is no more valid than the other views of EDSA.”
My point being that the more widely publicized stories of EDSA, like much of our history, centers around people who are generally agreed to be the main characters in the story.
Perhaps to Baron, EDSA was about the oligarchy put down by Marcos rising up again. To me, it was all about being holed up in the house for 5 days.
My EDSA 86 Story
When EDSA 86 happened, I think I was in Grade 7 or 1st Year High School.
I have to confess that going through the event was like entering a movie house during the last 20 minutes of a long Film.
My memory of the very first few hours of EDSA 86 was when my mother woke us up at around 3 or 4 in the morning and told us that something was happening.
My house is just 2 kilometers away from Malacanang and she was a bit concerned that if anything were to happen, like if people allied with Ramos or Enrile attacked Malacanang, we might be standing beside a potential war zone.
She told me not to go to school and we listened to events unfold through the AM radio. The next few days of EDSA 86 was something I witnessed through television and radio.
I didn't set foot on EDSA at all. Moreover, I had felt that whatever was happening at EDSA didn't involve me, or didn't involve me until the events happening there would somehow reach our doorstep in Sampaloc, Manila.
An aunt, who is easily frightened, described EDSA as a "giyera" or war and it reflected my mother's worst fears. Both my parents lived through World War II, saw Manila in shambles after it was bombed out, experienced great hardship as food became scarce, and lived in fear for for their lives in what seemed like endless months.
My father, who as at that time a City Business Tax Examiner at Manila's City Hall, didn't say much about what he thought about what was happening. His concerns at that time, were mainly focused around ensuring there were enough canned goods and rice in the house.
His visits to my grand mother's house on Bilibid Viejo, Quiapo became more frequent. He was, perhaps, worried because it was even nearer to Malacanang.
It was only hours after it was confirmed that Marcos had left the country that the tension in my house subsided a bit. Everyone was practically holed up in the house as EDSA unfolded and the first thing that my eldest brother did was to bring me and my other siblings to Malacanang.
I remember standing in front of what is now called Kalayaan Hall, where the Marcoses were last seen together before a crowd of supporters. I remember looking at the small paper Philippine flags strewn all over the tarmac in front of it and thinking everything was such a mess.
I think it was after that visit to Malacanang that my siblings and I went to my Grand Mother's house. Uncle Peping, who had fought under the USAFFE, was probably one of the first people I heard saying that the revolution was probably a bad idea. He described it as "kagaguhan" or something like that.
My eldest brother, who studied at UP Diliman and was already working at J. Walter Thompson thought that EDSA was a great thing, being a "bloodless revolution" and all.
Beyond these memories, I don't think I remember much else about those days except the things I remember reading much later, 20 or so years later.
What does "Being Part of EDSA 86" really mean?
Most people like saying they were direct witnesses to or were in the middle of "great events". My grandmother, for instance, had said a number times that she remembers watching Jose Rizal being led to the place in Rizal Park where he was shot. She must have had a great memory because I think she was born in 1897 and must have been two or three years old when Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan. Thing is, I don't even remember being two years old and so, sometimes I think it was one of those stories my Grand mother tells just to amuse us grand children.
So, whenever friends who lived in the vicinity of Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo start telling stories about how they were at EDSA during the "revolution", I just keep my mouth shut. Otherwise I'd have to say, "I watched everything on television" and I'd probably get jeers, which I would probably resent a bit.
I can imagine the snide insinuations that would be thrown my way because I wasn't part of this grand, momentous historical turning point because I didn't participate in filling up space on that major thoroughfare.
Then I would probably have to shoot those insinuations down by asking, "You were there, did you stop a tank or bring Ramos water or hand Gringgo Honasan a sandwhich? What did you do?"
Right there, at play, is the mistaken notion that just because you were a miron, you were actually and literally part of what was happening.
If Baron is really 35 years old, he would have been in Grade Two or Grade Three when EDSA 86 happened and older. I don't know how much he remembers about life growing up or how well read he is about the decades prior to EDSA 86 or if he walked on EDSA during the revolution. So, really, I cannot vouch for his authority on all matters regarding EDSA -- although I really like the way he tells his story.
But the truth is, whether you were holding a gun or walking on EDSA or in Malacanang or Camp Aguinaldo or Camp Crame or at home, it doesn't really make your story or your view any more valid than other peoples' views or stories.
There are numerous instances when the misunderstanding of history has made its way to the realm of popular knowledge and really, the only people who really, really care about their version of history are those who have a personal stake in having it popularized for one reason or another. These are the types who will defend or attack views opposed to their own -- sometimes not for the sake of accuracy.
I think, as a people, we have a lot of hang-ups that have never been fully resolved. There are still plenty of open wounds and unresolved issues.
There are people who claim they were oppressed during the Marcos years, as much as there are people who claim they were unjustly dispossessed when Cory Aquino came to power.
Till this day, the event that is said to have sparked the EDSA revolution, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, has not been fully or completely resolved. Who killed the senator and why? Was he really dying from a lingering disease when he decided to come home and get himself assassinated, in order to end up as a hero? Was it true that Marcos in his frail state was going to ask Ninoy to take over for him?
Did Marcos really steal billions and billions of pesos, as claimed by the Aquinos and others?
Did thousands really die in salvaging incidents and were thousands tortured under the Marcos Regime?
From where I am, I cannot really say I can know these things for certain.
But, whenever I go around Metro Manila, I come across certain Marcosian Edifices... like the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Heart Center, Folk Arts Theater, and others.
Crediting the Democratic Space we enjoy to Cory
Friends who believe that Cory should be credited for the democratic space we enjoy ought to remember that her role was more symbolic.
Ramos and Enrile were the ones who started the ball rolling and who were in the position to actually steer the unfolding of events. Marcos, who still commanded at least part of the military that hadn't sided with Ramos and Enrile, was also in a central position that could have swung EDSA any which way. If a shot or shots were fired in EDSA, I guess neither Cory Aquino or Cardinal Sin at that time would be in a position to do anything except count bodies afterwards.
That's the plain truth of it, as far as I am concerned.