Revolution in Prison.

Senator Antonio Trillanes in jail & in denial

magdalo-flag-mosaic.jpg

July 23, 2003: Some 321 armed soldiers led by Army Captain Gerardo Gambala and Navy Lt Antonio Trillanes took over the Oakwood apartment tower at the Ayala Center in the City of Makati and demanded that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resign (‘Oakwood mutiny,’ Wikipedia). Knock on wood.

August 5, 2006: Since then, ‘Oakwood’ has become synonymous with ‘mutiny’ (Alexander Martin Remollino, bulatlat.com). So, the story of the Oakwood Mutiny tells me that dissent will get you history and put you on the pages of Roget’s Thesaurus – not to mention put you high up there in the clouds and give you a magnificent view of the landscape. Landscape, if you’re using your eyes only, on top of the tower. Mindscape, if instead you’re using your head, even inside prison.

March 07, 2008: ‘In denial: Trillanes refuses to participate further in mutiny trial’ (Michael Punongbayan, newsflash.org). March 13, 2008:Magdalo soldiers want Arroyo, et al to testify’ (Julie M Aurelio, inquirer.net). Knowing him as a Magdalo leader who believes in the moral bankruptcy of GMA, I’m surprised still-in-prison-for-rebellion and now-Senator Antonio Trillanes doesn’t want to participate, but he wants GMA to participate. What’s this, ‘Ladies first?’ That tells me that dissent will get you ungentlemanly conduct and dreadful logic.

I know of two ways of using your head: being logical (critical thinking), and being inspired (creative thinking). Trillanes is stuck one way or the other. He forgot that iron bars do not a prison make? That tells me the Magdalos need more practice using their heads, not only their mouths.

April 02, 2008:Nine Magdalo soldiers plead guilty to coup d’etat charges’ (gmanews.tv). That tells me that some Magdalos have had good practice using their heads both ways. We should all do that. Full thinking is a good exercise of the brain cells. That tells me those in the opposition to GMA like Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Representative Joe de Venecia don’t know a good exercise when they see one.

The nine mutinous Magdalo officers were: Captains Gerardo Gambala, Milo Maestrecampo, Alvin Ebreo, Lawrence Louis Somera, Albert Baloloy and John Andres; 1Lt Florentino Somera, 2Lt Kristoffer Bryan Yasay and 1Lt Cleo Dongga-as (Michael Punongbayan, April 03, philstar.com). The nine are all members of the Philippine Army. They pleaded guilty to the charge of coup d’etat against them before the sala of Makati City Judge Oscar Pimentel.

1897: Actually, those whom the mass media in the Philippines today call Magdalo (plural, Magdalos) called themselves Bagong Katipuneros (‘New Revolutionaries’) when they staged the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003 (Wikipedia). But the media preferred to call them Magdalos, in reference to the flag they displayed at Oakwood (see image). The Magdalos of the late 1890s was one of the councils of the Katipunan (literally, Gathering), the revolutionary society and government of the Filipinos against the Spanish colonizers; the Magdiwangs was the other council, both under Katipunan President Andres Bonifacio.

Well, the modern Magdalos forgot their history. And so, they made an unintelligent choice of a name, a historical blunder, and here are 3 reasons I say that:

(1) The brave, historical Magdalos betrayed the Philippine Revolution – according to their rivals, the Magdiwangs. They had their President Andres Bonifacio executed, after charging and trying him for treason (Philip Bowring, June 12, 1998, iht.com). Either way, a record that leaves much to be desired, doesn’t it?

This is what happened. During the Tejeros Convention of March 1897, the delegates elected Emilio Aguinaldo President and Andres Bonifacio Director of the Interior, a slap on the face and a kick in the ass. Bonifacio withdrew from the convention and formed his own government, and fighting broke out between the Aguinaldo and Bonifacio troops. Bonifacio was arrested (countrystudies.us). And the rest is history. Revolutions devour their own children.

In parallel, the changing of the pleas of the nine Magdalos constituted a betrayal of the Oakwood Mutiny – the nine had had a change of heart; in late 2004, they had apologized to GMA for their participation in the Oakwood Mutiny. Ouch. Asst Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said, ‘Trillanes and his group are still in denial that the coup d’etat did happen … He is not man enough to face the consequences of his action’ (DJ Yap, April 03, inquirer.net). Double ouch.

(2) The brave, historical Magdalos made peace with the Americans, and then the Americans betrayed them. Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898; the declaration read in part (filipiniana.net):

This declaration, signed by several Filipinos and by Col LM Johnson of the US Army on 12 June 1898, announces that the Filipino people, under the protection of the United States of America, proclaim the independence of the nation from the Crown of Spain.

The Magdalos declared us Filipinos independent of the Spaniards, but not of the Americans. From the frying pan into the fire. Some leaders think they know better than the others; remember the prophetic words of Manuel Luis Quezon? ‘I prefer a government run like Hell by Filipinos rather than run like Heaven by Americans!’ Ouch. Any which way, Hell is assured if you betray the people; Heaven is assured if you don’t.

(3) The brave, historical Magdalos lost the war – the Revolution. When the Magdalos realized that they had been betrayed by the Americans with the help of some Filipinos, it was too late. Capitulation devours her own children too.

Duh. They who forget the past are bound to repeat it. The modern-day Magdalos had not learned from their historical forebears. The Magdalos of our time continue to think Independence, not Unity; they continue to think Revolution, unfortunately of the insane kind. An anagram of Magdalo is this: Mad goal.

The image displayed above is my Photoshop CS3 mosaic of the Magdalo flag of 1897 worn as armband by the Oakwood mutineers of 2003, more than 100 years after that flag had failed to unite the Filipinos in the struggle against a common enemy. My mosaic is my message that the modern Magdalos are all thinking pieces, not thinking patterns. They continue to think like surgeons: Cut off the diseased parts, and that will solve the problem. They do not search for the cause of the disease to cure it. They are elitist, not holistic in their thinking. They continue to think that some parts are greater than the whole.

True revolutions are not waged with smart swords or smart bombs or smart helicopters; true revolutions are waged with smart words and smart brains and smart hearts. Mahatma Gandhi was a true revolutionary that Lee Kwan Yew could not be; Jose Rizal was a true revolutionary that Andres Bonifacio did not wish to be; John Paul II was a true revolutionary that George W Bush is hard put to be. Peace is the only way to the true Revolution.

Was Henry David Thoreau a true revolutionary? He was. Is Trillanes a true revolutionary in the image of Thoreau? He would be. Trillanes has quoted Thoreau saying, ‘Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison’ (gmanews.tv).

Senator Trillanes, you are inspired to cite Thoreau there, but being in prison is the least of my worries about you. I’m worried that you have not shown any vision of the Philippines that we would all love to have, only a vision of the Philippines without GMA. And if you had that vision of a greater Philippines, pray tell us what sacrifices would we have to make to get to the Promised Land? What would be the guarantee that when GMA is out ASAP, the new leaders will lead us to Paradise ASAP and not to Perdition ASAP?

I’m worried because you insist on a change of the highest government official, but I know that a change of the head is not a true Revolution, only a revolution of the presidential chair. ‘Give me a chair to stand and I will move the Earth.’ Archimedes couldn’t, George W Bush can’t do it.

The Magdalos and Joseph Estrada and even some clergy led by Archbishop Oscar Cruz accuse the GMA administration of being morally bankrupt. Aren’t we all? Logic tells us that if the Filipinos are massively bankrupt in their ethics unlike any other nation, then that is a gargantuan historical failure of none other than the Roman Catholic Church. Don’t blame me, a Roman Catholic, for telling you.

But all that is by way of the critical thinker. I’d rather be a creative thinker. A true Revolution is personal. It begins and ends with a person. And folks, the right-thinking Magdalos have shown us a good example.

Lt Col Bartolome Bacarro, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said about the nine Magdalos changing their plea of ‘Not Guilty’ to ‘Guilty’ – ‘But what is noteworthy is their courage to admit that they have committed something wrong and are ready to face the consequences of their action’ (Punongbayan, cited). Army Chief Lt Gen Alexander Yano said, ‘We admire the courage of these men. What made them decide to plead guilty was definitely a product of their own volition.’

November 29, 2007: Walking out of his court hearing on the Oakwood Mutiny, Senator Trillanes declared a revolt at the Manila Peninsula Hotel (see my ‘Manila Rain-Walk. The day Senator Trillanes called a 5-Star Revolt, Peter Parcel drank coffee & the bride danced,’ November 30, frankahilario.com). Among other people, the revolt invited soldiers in an armored personnel carrier that crashed into the lobby and soldiers spraying tear gas and automatic fire. The revolt lasted 6 hours.

March 07, 2008: In prison, Trillanes decided not to attend the hearing of the coup d’etat case against the Magdalos and to forgo his testimony in the defense of his group, ‘after much reflection,’ he wrote, claiming in a letter that it is because the trial has become a ‘travesty of justice’ (Michael Punongbayan, newsflash.org). That is also volition, and you can’t take that away from Trillanes. Trillanes insists on his own kind of Revolution.

And so do I. The Philippines needs a Revolution, and that Revolution starts with you. With me. It is a product of our own volition.

We can learn from Army Chief Yano who said after the nine Magdalos changed their minds and instead pleaded guilty:

It is more of putting an end or closure to their case so that they can move on with their lives and be with their families again and see their kids grow up and hope that with the available legal remedies they can still experience how to be a civilian or soldier again in the near future.

‘So that we can move on with our lives’ – is that too much to ask of Your Revolution, Senator Trillanes?

Revolution in prison? No! Revolution in person? Yes! I should say, the Revolution starts with the leader, the one who says we need a Revolution. A change in the head would be a good beginning.

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2 Comments on “Revolution in Prison.”


  1. [...] post info By frankahilario Categories: 1 Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article) ‘Revolution in Prison. Senator Trillanes in jail & in denial’ [...]

  2. Noel Bondoc Says:

    Prophetic words of Manuel Luis Quezon? ‘I prefer a government run like Hell by Filipinos rather than run like Heaven by Americans!’

    Look where we are now… if you ask me, I prefer a government run like heaven by the Americans… how I envy Hawaii…

    Just my true sentiment… and I wonder how many out there share this sentiment. And I don’t feel any less patriotic at that.


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