What happened here shortly after 1986 Edsa revolt?

Last February 25, the nation commemorated the 30th anniversary of 1986 Edsa revolt that toppled the 20-year rule of Apo Lakay, a moniker we, Ilocanos use to fondly call the favorite illustrious son of Ilocos Norte, the late president Ferdinand Marcos. Apo Lakay means Grand Old Man.

For the sake of history, the young generation may ask: What happened to Ilocos Norte known as Marcos Country after the 1986 Edsa uprising? It was a crucial period for the Ilocanos in the North. The people here were uncertain of the political direction in this Saluyot republic. Sporadic mini-protest actions were held.

Then city mayor Rudy Fariñas was the “last of the Mohicans” to give up his turf– the City Hall of Laoag into the hands of a caretaker anointed by the Cory Aquino revolutionary government. Sir Rudy claimed he survived the angry mob in Malacanang at the height of the 1986 revolt. He was there at the Palace to see his bosom friend Bongbong Marcos. Disguising as youth activist, he and his aides made a daring escape from the mob under the cover of darkness, passed through checkpoints incognito and returned to Ilocos Norte intact in body and soul.

Some alleged Marcos loyal soldiers went into hiding here for fear of reprisal by Cory rebel army. After a month or two, things gradually went normal in the province. The Ilocanos moved on to accept the truth that Apo Lakay was not a permanent tenant of Malacanang like any other presidents of this archipelago.

During the transition period, there was no vacuum of leadership at the Ilocos Norte provincial capitol, Laoag City hall and the rest of the 22 municipalities, contrary to critics view. Official transaction in all offices did not come to halt. The reign of Officers in Charge led by OIC governor Atty. Castor Raval dominated the scene amid mild tension posed by the loyalists. The OICs were not elected by the people but merely appointed caretakers of the different LGUs yet they did their respective jobs to the best of their abilities.

It was normal for the majority Ilocanos here to remain loyal to the Marcoses while the latter were exiled in Hawaii, USA after the 1986 Edsa uprising. In fighting mood, the loyalists vented their ire on the OICs. They criticized, provoked and downgraded the OICs using the local broadcast media. However, some Marcos loyalists became smart as they jumped onto the other fence and became OICs too. Despite of the hostile aura here and there, the OICs remained civil, calm, understanding and friendly.

For instance, lawyer Castor Raval ruled the province through thick and thin during his short stint as OIC governor. He dared to reach out in person to the lairs of the NPA rebels in Ilocos Norte. He convinced the communist guerrillas to lay down their arms and rejoin the mainstream of society as part of his anti-insurgency campaign. As backgrounder, he was the No. 1 opposition leader and human rights lawyer in Ilocos Norte during the Marcos regime. However, in his press statement upon assumption of office as OIC governor, he expressed high respect for President Marcos. However, OIC Raval said he disliked the corrupt and abusive subalterns around President Marcos.

After the Edsa I, the Catholics Bishop’s Residence of Apo Edmundo Abaya on Gomez Street in Laoag City virtually became the “mecca” of ruling OICs and deposed local leaders. Even the ranking Cory officials from Manila including those from the police and military always paid a visit to Bishop Abaya for spiritual advice, among others.

I wish to tell you more about post Marcos-era happenings in Ilocos Norte after the 1986 Edsa turmoil but I have to cut short here for brevity due to space limit. Local political history must not be distorted because if we omit the real events, big or small, it boils down to deformity of facts and events.#(email: junrguiang@yahoo.com)