Archive for the ‘Ferdinand Marcos’ Category

NOVO TRENDS PH Survey March 21-16 2015


I may have written many times earlier about people power, specially people power in the Philippines.  Nevertheless, it lends to continuous reflection.  All historical events attract attention and are vulnerable to various interpretations and revisions (if you will).

For the first time, the anniversary of People Power 1986 will be commemorated in Cebu City instead of Malacañang (as announced earlier) or even EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) where hundreds of thousands of Filipinos cocooned soldiers rebelling against President Ferdinand Marcos.  To my mind, it was just right to celebrate in Malacañang–the seat of state power.  I can still recall the final night when ordinary people stormed what they thought was the Palace (it was the office of the National Media Production Center in the Palace grounds) and vented their rage on portraits of the dictator and his wife. I was a journalist with the Business Day then and together with colleagues, we were able to enter the inner sanctum with soon-to-be Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo.  I remember lusting after cartons upon cartons of new books in Marcos’ study and the smell of urine in his sleeping quarters.

Now that it will be celebrated in Cebu City, it may be seen as a corrective to the imperial Manila-centricity of EDSA (of all three EDSA people power episodes, for that matter).  It seems a stretch to say that Cebu City earned the “right” because Tita Cory was there with the nuns when Enrile and Ramos announced their defection in her favor.

Filipinos stood tall after the dictator and his entourage hitched a ride first to Clark Air Base (in Pampanga province) and thence to Hickam Air Base in Hawaii.

Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, and BongBong Marcos (now Senator) at the presidential balcony, morning of February 25, 1986

Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, and BongBong Marcos (now Senator) at the presidential balcony, morning of February 25, 1986

Yet, 28 years after Marcos fled, the event has apparently lost its resonance and many Filipinos consider it as any other day of the year.

EDSA I, 1986

EDSA I, 1986

The disappointment is most likely the result of extremely high expectations of EDSA I.  February 1986 should be seen as the beginning rather the omega of our quest for a better society.  The limitations of EDSA I must be laid bare for all to acknowledge.  The economic and political crises that crippled the Philippines after the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983 convinced politically active Filipinos that the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos was the only solution.  For most, there was agreement that it must be accomplished in a non-violent manner, an accord not shared by communist insurgents and the military putschists.

No other consensus was possible within the anti-Marcos ranks. It was not feasible to agree on asset reform, tenure of the US military bases, prosecution of human rights violations, form of government, and other issues.  To force a consensus is to surely invite dissension and division and will surely surely weaken the anti-Marcos forces.

In this sense, EDSA I should be seen as necessary but insufficient to effect much needed reforms in our society.  It was necessary to break the stranglehold of the Marcoses and their cohort on political and economic power so the basic rules of the ‘game’–the Constitution could be written and adopted freely.  Ideally, the Constitution will govern the processes through we resolve our differences and our debates of national issues.

To be sure, EDSA I is a rupture from the political rules.  At certain historical junctures, rules get in the way of resolution of political conflict and politics take on an irregular route.  In this case, people power.  People power episodes, however, are short-lived and unstable.  For reason, the default behavior is to redraw rules and return to regular politics.

President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, 1998-2001

President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, 1998-2001

EDSA II offered a dilemma in that it was so different from EDSA I.  President Erap Estrada may be a corrupt president (who must be given his day in court) but he had an unquestionable electoral mandate.  He was no over-staying dictator like Marcos.  Nevertheless, rules were bent and he was (constructively) deposed by the perfumed set.

EDSA II, January 2001

EDSA II, January 2001

What probably broke the proverbial camel’s back was Erap’s humiliating arrest and mug shot aired on national TV.  Before the actual arrest and broadcast, I approved of it at the time as an instance of the rule of law.  Given the circumstances, however, I was not surprised by EDSA III, “poor people” power of April-May 2001, just a few months from EDSA II. EDSA III was also different in that tens of thousands stormed the Presidential Palace to oust the new President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That the rebellion was crushed at the palace gates is another story.

Mugshot of President Joseph Estrada

Mugshot of President Joseph Estrada

Storming the Presidential Palace, EDSA III, May 1, 2001

Storming the Presidential Palace, EDSA III, May 1, 2001

As things stood, people power was used to change (or restore) leaders in the Philippines.  Two episodes succeeded while another failed.  Could it be because EDSA III’s agenda was more than a mere change in leadership?  In other instances, people power had been associated with sordid grabs for power by unelectable political actors.  All episodes inflated the role of the uniformed services in national life.

What next for people power? As we know it?

The Baltazar Aquino Papers (BAP) are documents generated by the ‘perpetuation of testimony’ proceedings (Special Proceedings No. 002) conducted by the Sandiganbayan from September 1988 to November 1989.  The Sandiganbayan is a special court created by the Philippine government to try corruption cases filed against government officials.

After the ouster of President Marcos in February 1986, the government of President Cory Aquino initiated several  moves for the general purpose of recovering so-called ‘ill-gotten wealth’ from the Marcoses and their cronies and to prosecute them for ‘grave crimes against the Filipino people.’  Among these moves included the creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the subsequent filing of several suits (civil and criminal) in various courts in the Philippines and in other countries.

The Sandiganbayan ‘perpetuation of testimony’ proceedings were conducted for the purpose of recording for posterity and future use the testimony of an ailing Baltazar A. Aquino (who was 78 years old in 1989), former Secretary (or Minister when the Philippines adopted a parliamentary form of government in 1978) of Public Highways during the Marcos highways.  The proceedings were actually done in conjunction with the hearing of several civil suits against Marcos, his family, and friends where Baltazar Aquino himself was a prosecution witness.  At the time, the government of President Cory Aquino had decided, based on national security considerations, against allowing the Marcoses to return to the country.  For this reason, only civil suits were filed against the Marcoses in Philippine courts.  Under existing Philippine laws, when a criminal case is filed, the defendant must be physically present in the court and face his accuser.


The perpetuation of Balatazar Aquino’s testimony was done before the 2nd division of the Sandiganbayan.  Meanwhile, the civil suit against Marcos, his family, and friends (Civil Case No. 0002) was heard at the graft court’s 3rd division up to November 1989.  Ferdinand Marcos died while in exile in Hawaii on 28 September 1989.  In the light of Marcos’ death, the perpetuation of Aquino’s testimony was terminated in early 1990.  Solicitor General Francisco I. Chavez withdrew the petition for the perpetuation of Aquino’s testimony on 2 February 1990.


A general picture of Marcos’ irregular relationships with Japanese firms and suppliers vying for Japanese government-funded projects in the Philippines emerges from the Aquino testimony, the papers supplied by Oscar Rodriguez, and documents pertaining to the Angenit Investment Corporation headed by Marcos crony and former parliamentarian Andres Genito Jr.  The Marcos-Japanese relationship started with the Japanese Reparations Program, administered by the Reparations Commission headed by Marcos war buddy Gen. Eulogio Balao.  It continued up to the last years of the Marcos presidency when the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) became the main conduit of Japanese public funds into the country following the end of the Reparations Program.


In general, the Japanese government-provided funds are to be used to finance several general infrastructure and development contracts in the Philippines.  The equipment requirements of these projects were to procured from Japanese manufacturers or suppliers in the usual manner of so-called ‘tied aid.’  Ostensibly, the Japanese contractors must compete with each other in a bidding process where the qualified bidder submitting the lowest bid was awarded the contract.


However, Marcos and his associates perfected a system wherein no Japanese firm could win a contract unless a 15 percent (of the total contract price) ‘commission’ was paid.  This ‘commission’ would be included in the total contract price to be paid by the Philippine government out of Japanese government-provided funds.


Except for a specific instance (i.e., the Cagayan Valley Electrification Project) where they attempted to win contracts without paying any ‘commission’ to Marcos, the Japanese firms generally acceded to the ‘commission’ system.  All qualified bidders, therefore, knew that they were expected to pay the ‘commission’ if they wanted to win a contract.  They would still ‘compete’ in the bidding process.  One cannot be blamed however for thinking that since all were willing players anyway, the contracts were judiciously assigned to individual contractors in some sort of a queueing system.  This meant that if a firm was unable to win a contract for a particular project, it was sure to get one for another project in the future.


The key Marcos aides involved in the operations were Gen Eulogio Balao, Secretary Baltazar Aquino, Deputy Secretary Oscar Rodriguez, and Andres Genito Jr.  Balao collected ‘commissions’ on projects financed under the Reparations Program; most of these projects were administered by Philippine government agencies other than the Department of Public Highways.  Genito took Balao’s place when the latter had a stroke and eventually died in 1977.  In a kind of division of labor, Aquino collected commissions on projects administered by the Department of Public Highways and financed by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF).  Rodriguez, who was accountable only to Marcos, though technically Aquino’s subordinate, took care of the technical function of accepting and evaluating bids and recommending (to Marcos) the award of contracts to specific Japanese suppliers.  He could have been in charge of the ‘queueing’ system alluded to earlier.


The Japanese firms that paid regular contributions to Marcos through Balatazar Aquino included Sakai Heavy Industries, Sumitomo Corporation, Toyo Corporation, Nissho-Iwai, and Mitsui & Company.  Four representatives of Japanese firms–Susumu Makino of Sakai, Yoshio Kotake and Mr. Hara of Toyo Corporation, and Mr. Sato of Sumitomo–alternatively handed over these payoffs to Baltazar Aquino in Hongkong.


Among the key revelations of the Sandiganbayan proceedings include the following:


  1. On several occasions from July 1975 to July 1976, Secretary Aquino travelled to Hongkong to receive monies from Japanese firm representatives, particularly Susumu Makino of Sakai Heavy Industries.  Aquino would then deposit the money to a numbered account (No. 51960) with the Hongkong office of the Swiss Bank Corporation.  A Swiss Bank Corporation official in Hongkong, a Mr. Barasoni issued deposit receipts which Aquino will turn over to Marcos upon his return to Manila.
  2. Baltazar Aquino testified that Marcos instructed him to keep his Hongkong activities secret and unknown even to Aquino’s wife.  Aquino wrote Marcos a letter dated 25 May 1977 promising to keep his mouth shut.
  3. After Gen. Balao’s death, Marcos expressed some worry that Genito was not giving a proper accounting of ‘commissions’ received through Angenit Investment Corporation.  Rodriguez was asked to perform an audit and he was able to prepare a schedule of collections made by Balao and Genito.  Genito was found, in one instance, to be short of a hundred thousand dollars (US$100,000.00).  For his part, Genito tried to persuade Rodriguez to withhold his deficiency from Marcos.
  4. Yoshiko Kotake of Toyo Corporation wrote Genito to advise President Marcos not to use Baltazar Aquino to collect ‘commissions’ from Japanese firms.  Kotake warned of a possible scandal (similar to the Lockheed affair which led to the imprisonment of former Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka) since Aquino was a high government official.  Aquino was himself in charge of Japanese government-funded projects in the Philippines.


The papers collectively known as the Oscar Rodriguez Papers (ORP) are documents given to a parliamentary mission sent by the Japanese Socialist Party (that later changed its English name to Social Democratic Party of Japan in 1991) to the Philippines in March 1986.  The parliamentary mission was dispatched to Manila following the release of the Marcos Honolulu Papers (MHP) by the US government.  Media coverage of the MHP in Japan was extensive since the papers strongly hinted at corrupt business practices and other irregularities of several prominent Japanese business firms awarded contracts in connection with Japanese-government funded projects in the Philippines.

In Manila, the parliamentary mission was able to meet Oscar Rodriguez, who allowed the visiting parliamentarians to copy the almost 1,400-page document set he had in his possession.  Rodriguez, undersecretary of the Department (or Ministry) of Public Highways, was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos as the implementing officer of the Philippine-Japan Project Loan Assistance Program (PJLAP).  The PJLAP was a special government agency organized by President Marcos to oversee to oversee all Japanese government-funded yen credit projects in the Philippines after the imposition of martial law in September 1972.

Four years earlier, the Japanese Reparations Program ended.  A provision of the peace treaty between Japan and the victorious powers provided that Japan must pay indemnify the nations it conquered and occupied during the Second World War.  Under this program, the Philippines organized the Reparations Commission to receive the Japanese indemnifications used to finance infrastructure and other development projects.  The Commission was headed by Marcos’ friend, war-buddy, and fellow Ilocano, Senator (formerly General and Secretary of National Defense) Eulogio Balao of Cagayan province.

It could be discerned from the perpetuation of testimony proceedings of former Marcos cabinet member Baltazar Aquino (subject of another blog post), and documents pertaining to the Angenit Investment Corporation in the Marcos Honolulu Papers (MHP) that Balao ensured that percentages of Japanese reparation payments found their way into President Marcos’ bank accounts.  Since these Japanese public funds were used to purchase Japanese equipment and services (in the manner of ‘tied aid’), Japanese suppliers had to pay ‘commissions’ to Marcos through Balao so they can be awarded the suppliers’ contracts.

For his part, Baltazar Aquino said he collected ‘commissions’ arising from contracts with Japanese suppliers.  He also revealed that Balao collected these ‘commissions’ for Marcos when Balao headed the Reparations Commission Mission in Japan.  Andres Genito Jr., president of Angenit Investment Corporation and former Batasang Pambansa assemblyman took over Balao’s duties when the former general and senator died in 1977.

It appears that Rodriguez was on the technical, ‘clean’ side of the Marcos ‘squeeze’ operations on Japanese contractors.  His office coordinated, among others, the preparation of pre-bidding requirements and qualifications, and the acceptance and evaluation of bids from competing Japanese and (sometimes, Filipino) suppliers and contractors vying for Japanese government-funded projects.  This coordination function was needed because particular projects were handled by distinct public agencies.  For example, projects in the Bataan Export Processing Zone (BEPZ) were handled by the Export Processing Zone Authority (EZPA) while the National Power Corporation (NPC) had oversight over the Cagayan Valley Electrification Project.

In the ORP collection, one could find several letters of recommendation from the heads of such agencies and evaluation reports of these agencies’ technical committees and/or boards all addressed to Rodriguez.  He would then recommend to President Marcos the award of particular contracts to specific suppliers.  President Marcos would approve or disapprove Rodriguez’ recommendation through marginal notes on the same recommendation-memoranda.  Most of the documents in the ORP set are of this nature.  In a few instances, presidential approval was communicated by aides Jacobo Clave or Joaquin Venus Jr.

Rodrigues sometimes recommended the amendment of existing contracts.  Requests and recommendations for the purchase of additional equipment received by Rodriguez from various government agencies served as bases for these contractual changes.  The changes were then relayed by Rodriguez to the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), the new Japanese new aid agency, that had first to approve the changes before the new contracts can be implemented.


In the evaluation of bids submitted by Japanese contractors for a particular project, the administering public agency solicited the technical opinion of hired project consultants.  These consultants included Filipino and Japanese experts and firms.  Some of these evaluation reports are included in the ORP set.  Also included in the collection are several offer/bid letters of Japanese suppliers addressed to Rodriguez as well as his letters to the latter.  In his replies, Rodriguez asked for improvements in the offers such as the shortening of delivery periods, assumption of supervisory expenses, and the like.


The ORP included summary reports that provide a macro-picture of Japanese government-funded projects in the Philippines during the Marcos years.  These documents include the following:


  1. The set of papers entitled “Approval of Awards of Contracts” lists the pertinent papers for several project contracts entered into by the governments of Japan and the Philippines from 1977 to 1986;
  2. A status report as of February 28, 1986 on Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) project loans.  The status report covered a total of 54 projects organized in 10 loan packages involving some 180.75 billion yen.  Of this total, 36 projects were completed while the rest were ongoing; and
  3. An untitled set of papers offer detailed information on loan use including the list of contracts concluded, description of contracts, name of contractor, contract identity number, and contracted amount.


[Subject of next blog post: Baltazar Aquino Papers (BAP)]

On the night of 25 February 1986, Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos and their children plus their closest associates (like Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco) were whisked off Malakanyang Palace by USAF helicopters.  They spent the night at Clark Air Base and were subsequently flown to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii, headquarters of the US Pacific Command.

The Marcos Honolulu Papers (MHP) were documents seized by the US Customs Service from the Marcos party upon arrival at Hickam.  After being catalogued, the entire document set was turned over to the US State Department and Rep. Stephen Solarz, chairman of the House sub-committee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  Solarz then released copies of the MHP, except for at least a hundred pages which were supposed to be personal in nature, to the mass media and academics.  The Philippine government under President Cory Aquino then received its copy through the New York office of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency established by President Aquino to recover ill-gotten Marcos wealth.  The PCGG was subsequently able to obtain copies of the Solarz-withheld pages.

Logo of PCGG

In connection with a book project with Japanese colleagues on the corrupt collaboration between Marcos and private Japanese companies , I annotated every page of the almost 2,000 page MHP set.  [Unfortunately, I lost the electronic file of these annotations due to defective hard drives and floppy disks.)  An initial examination of the documents suggests two possible hypotheses about their nature.  The first and more plausible one avers that the MHP is composed both of papers kept personally and carefully by Marcos over the years and documents which were randomly picked up and packed in the confusion of his last days in Malakanyang Palace.  If this is the case, future analysts of the MHP must attempt to segregate one set from the other.

The second, and apparently less tenable thesis, holds that all of the papers were indeed carefully-kept personal files of Marcos.  If this interpretation was true, then seemingly innocuous papers, like the curriculum vitae of an assistant provincial fiscal or an obscure community nurse, must be studied for possible connections with the man himself.  Or could they simply indicate the broad range of concerns that occupied Marcos during his twenty-year rule.

As it is, the document set is a formidable collection of papers of diverse nature, including financial reports, stock certificates, letters, handwritten notes, business cards, and then some.  Instead of trying vainly to devise a scheme to tie all the papers into a unified, comprehensible lot,  it is better to highlight which ones are most interesting or useful in understanding what Marcos did during those years.

For those who are interested in the business activities of Marcos, his immediate family, and his close friends and cronies–the papers relating to the Herdis Group, Inc (HGI), Prime Holdings, Universal Holdings, financial reports prepared by Carlos J. Valdez, bank transaction reports, Roberto Benedicto, Rolando Gapud, Jose Y. Campos, Rodolfo Cuenca, and the Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. (BASECO) could be examined.  Included in this group are papers pertaining to the Angenit Investment Corporation, headed by Marcos crony and former Batasang Pambansa (National Parliament) assemblyman Andres Genito Jr.  The Genito papers are useful to investigators of transactions entered into between Japanese companies and Filipino firms concerning Philippine projects financed by Japanese official development assistance (ODA) funds. (I know that most of the names and firms mentioned here are relatively unknown to a contemporary audience.  I will discuss them in greater detail in a future blog post.)

The overpriced and never used Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

With the Herdis papers is a detailed accounting of the $60 million commission received by Herdis on Marcos’ behalf received from Westinghouse, the supplier of the Bataan nuclear power plant.  The Philippine government under Tita Cory submitted this report as evidence in the case it filed in a US court against Westinghouse for fraud.

The papers about the dissolution of the marriage and divorce of Ms. Aurora Pijuan (former Ms. International) and Mr. Tomas Manotoc (who later married Imee Marcos), the letter of Marcos’ nephew Michael Keon providing for the “settlement of all outstanding matters” between Keon and “the family of H. E. Ferdinand E. Marcos,” and the file on the American actress Dovie Beams, believed to have carried on a scandalous affair with Marcos in late 1970–will certainly appeal to those interested in the personal lives of the Marcoses.

Most of the papers initially withheld by the US authorities were secret or confidential Philippine government intelligence reports on various corrupt activities, including bribery, malversation, nepotism, and rape, of a high official of the Department of Local Government and Community Development (DLGCD) and the Metro Manila Commission, where Imelda Marcos served as chairperson.

Jimmy Carter, 1980 presidential candidate of Democratic Party

Gen. Fabian Ver, chief of Marcos’ praetorian guard

The collection includes pieces of evidence of how Marcos employed governmental power and resources for various ends.  Among them are reports on various ‘intelligence’ funds, and the apparent distribution of large sums of money during the February 7, 1986 snap elections.  Of particular interest is a statement of expenses of the Mabuhay Corporation which made several political contributions to American politicians and political parties, including $50,000 apiece to 1980 presidential candidates Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  These contributions were cleared through Gen. Fabian Ver, commander of the Presidential Security Command.

Ronald Reagan, 1980 presidential candidate, Republican party

Ferdinand Marcos sent Imelda to meet with Mao Zedong, China’s leader, to establish diplomatic relations and end China’s support of Philippine communists

Several papers allude to the growing power and political role of Imelda Marcos.  An outstanding example is a handwritten presidential decree (numbered 731 and dated 7 June 1975) that provided for the creation of an executive committee to be headed by Imelda that would assume the powers and responsibilities of the President in the event of Marcos’ death or permanent disability.

The wealth and diversity of the papers contained in the collection make the MHP one of the “must-see” sources for serious students of the Marcos period.

Some 39 years ago today, I was awakened by a sharp blow delivered to my chest with the butt of an M16 assault rifle. When I came to, I was blinded by flashlights and poked by gun barrels to get up. That marked the start of the most horrifying three weeks of my life. Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law became so real to me.

I was captured in Barrio Magsaysay, Tondo, Manila on September 16, 1973. I was 19 at the time. The term “captured” is, I believe, more appropriate than “arrested” since no warrant of arrest was presented. I was captured by a composite team of police and military officers. They dragged me out of the shanty where I was staying temporarily and manhandled me on the sidewalk. Apparently they received intelligence reports that I brought an arms cache to Magsaysay to fight government’s plans to demolish the huge community of shanties. They kept on asking me where the weapons were while boxing and kicking me. Notwithstanding the pain, it was an easy question since there were no arms. I will later learn that I, together with a dozen others, was betrayed by a comrade who inflated my standing in the underground movement against Marcos authoritarianism.

Among my betrayed comrades was a town mate, who like me was assigned to Barrio Magsaysay. His cover was that of a vinegar vendor. Mine was probably not too strong. I was supposed to be a relative of the old couple I was living with looking for work in the big city. A residence certificate supported my cover which was why I got captured under the name Roel Malaya y Benitez.  In retrospect, a cover story collapses when one gets betrayed.

Let’s call my betrayed town mate Mauro (since he also had a false residence certificate like me). Mauro is younger (I think he was 15 or 16 at the time) and shorter than me; I was a 6-footer while Mauro was about 5’5. Try imagining this. I was handcuffed to him through my left wrist with the cuffs passing under my testicles and connecting to Mauro’s left (or was it right?) wrist.

All the betrayed will be brought to Precinct 1 of the Manila Police Department in Balut, Tondo together with the squealer–Eddie Babon. Separate office rooms were used for interrogation and temporary detention. Babon was kept separate from us and I guess he was questioned carefully ahead of us–to provide the basis for our own questioning later.  However, he knew that Mauro and I were not from Barrio Magsaysay and thus the conclusion–we were there on a mission.

The head of the composite grab team is a Lt. Nacu of the Metropolitan Police and Investigation Service (MPIS), with its headquarters in Camp Crame. While questioning Babon, I overheard Nacu shout: “Balikan ninyo yung babae!” (Go back for the woman!).  I feared for my wife Rosalie, who was also assigned to Barrio Magsaysay. I will learn later than she evaded capture for two reasons: Babon hesitated in identifying her, and her hosts strongly supported her cover story. Mabuhay ka Ka Flor sampu ng iyong pamilya!  After the grab team left, Rosalie also sought refuge elsewhere.

The rest of the day was spent on humdrum activities: finger printing, taking of photos (front, left, and right) with the obligatory identifying sign, and additional paperwork.  We were then led into the regular detention cell of Precinct 1–a 4 x 5 meter cell that can comfortably accommodate 30 persons.  At the time, it was standing room only (SRO with about 80 detainees.  Most of the 80 were charged with criminal offenses and heavily tattooed according to their gang affiliations.  It was a cause for worry and the new gang–“The Betrayed”–decided to close ranks and maintain vigilance.  It turned out that our fears did not materialize.  They kept a safe distance from us (even under SRO conditions).  A few of them expressed admiration for our cojones–for fighting the biggest gang of all–the Marcos government.

In subsequent posts, I will explain the events and decisions I made that led to September 16, 1973.  Of course, I will also write on what happened after this day.

September 5 is the birthday of my eldest brother, Edgardo, who is happily retired from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and is enjoying golf and his APO-stolic work, if you know what I mean.  He actually started with the National Police Commission (Napolcom) and transferred to the PNP after earning his Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) from the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP).

September 10 is the birthday of another brother, Christopher, a civil engineer who succumbed to cancer last March 2011.

Marcos announcing declaration of martial in national TV broadcast

September 11 is the birthday of Ferdinand Marcos, the first re-elected President of the Philippines and became dictator when he imposed martial law on 21 September 1972, and Horacio R. Morales, Jr., who defected to the underground National Democratic Front (NDF) on the day he was supposed to be recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines for public service.

Kuya Eddie’s only daughter was born on September 15 while Matthew, his youngest grandchild, was born a day before on September 14.

I was captured by Marcos’ security forces on September 16, 1973 in Barrio Magsaysay, Tondo, Manila and brought first to Precinct 1 of the Manila Police Department in Balut.  Eventually, I was brought to various intelligence units in Camp Crame and ended up with the 5th Constabulary Security Unit (CSU).  In all these stops, I was tortured and interrogated; the most thorough torture and questioning was done at the CSU.

September 20 is the birthday of my mother-in-law, Esther J. Garcia from Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur, who died in June 2003.

Marcos dated Proclamation No. 1081 which placed the entire country under martial on September 21, 1972.  However, the public announcement was done on September 23, 1972 enabling Marcos to arrest his key rivals and political opponents first.

September 27 is the birthday of my father-in-law, Romulo T. Gracia, Sr. of  Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur, who died in 1992; my wife, Rosalie G. Mendoza, who was with me in the underground movement against Marcos; and my nephew, Mark Paul E. Mendoza, now a lieutenant of the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

By the end of September 1973, the 5th CSU probably felt it did all it could to extract tactical information from me.  I was soon transferred to the Ipil Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Fort Bonifacio (headquarters of the Philippine Army), where I will be detained until 12 December 1974 together with a few hundred detainees.

Given the rundown above, the reader can obviously surmise how memorable the month of September is to me.  In subsequent posts, I will elaborate on these milestones and events.

By the way, I courted Rosalie and won her heart during a September.