The First Quarter Storm through the eyes of Ferdinand E. Marcos

Prior to the scrapping of the 1935 Constitution, presidents would deliver their State of the Nation Address in January, at the Legislative Building in Manila.

On January 26, 1970, President Marcos, who had been inaugurated for an unprecedented full second term less than a month earlier, on December 30, 1969 (see Pete Lacaba’s satirical account, Second Mandate: January 10, 1970), was set to deliver his fifth message to the nation.

The classic account of the start of what has come to be known as the First Quarter Storm is Pete Lacaba’s The January 26 Confrontation: A Highly Personal Account, February 7, 1970 followed by his And the January 30 Insurrection, February 7, 1970. From another point of view, there is Kerima Polotan’s The Long Week, February 7, 1970. Followed by Nap Rama’s Have rock, will demonstrate, March 7, 1970.

And there, is of course, the view of Ferdinand E. Marcos himself.

January 23, 1970 and January 24, 1970 were mainly about keeping an eye out on coup plots and the opposition, as well as reshuffling the top brass of the armed forces and picking a new Secretary of National Defense.

January 25, 1970 was about expressing his ire over the behavior of student leaders.

On January 26, 1970 Marcos wrote,

After the State of the Nation address, which was perhaps my best so far, and we were going down the front stairs, the bottles, placard handles, stones and other missiles started dropping all around us on the driveway to the tune of a “Marcos, Puppet” chant.

Marcos then noted,

Some advisors are quietly recommending sterner measures against the Kabataang Makabayan. We must get the emergency plan polished up.

January 27, 1970 and January 28, 1970 were spent housekeeping –talking to police generals– and warning the U.S. Embassy they had better not get involved. Marcos began to further flesh out the rationale for his forthcoming emergency rule:

If we do not prepare measures of counter-action, they will not only succeed in assassinating me but in taking over the government. So we must perfect our emergency plan.

I have several options. One of them is to abort the subversive plan now by the sudden arrest of the plotters. But this would not be accepted by the people. Nor could we get the Huks, their legal cadres and support. Nor the MIM and other subversive [or front] organizations, nor those underground. We could allow the situation to develop naturally then after massive terrorism, wanton killings and an attempt at my assassination and a coup d’etat, then declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus – and arrest all including the legal cadres. Right now I am inclined towards the latter.

On January 29, 1970 Marcos rather angrily recounted receiving a delegation of faculty from his alma mater, the University of the Philippines; and reports in his diary that a very big student protest is due the next day.

The next day would prove to be even more explosive than the day of Marcos’ State of the Nation Address: the attack on Malacañan Palace by student protesters. Marcos writes about it in his January 30, 1970 diary entry:

…the Metrocom under Col. Ordoñez and Aguilar after reinforcement by one company of the PC under Gen. Raval arrived have pushed up to Mendiola near San Beda where the MPD were held in reserve. I hear shooting and I am told that the MPD have been firing in the air.

The rioters have been able to breach Gate 4 and I had difficulty to stop the guards from shooting the rioters down. Specially as when Gate 3 was threatened also. I received a call from Maj. Ramos for permission to fire and my answer was “Permission granted to fire your water hoses.”

For an overview of the events of that day, see Pete Lacaba’s And the January 30 Insurrection, February 7, 1970. This was another in what would turn out to be historic reportage on historic times; as counterpoint (from a point of view far from enamored of the students) see Kerima Polotan’s account mentioned above.

The next day, January 31, 1972, Marcos further fleshed out his version of the student attack on the Palace, and begins enumerating more people to keep an eye on –politicians, media people; he also mentions the need to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus –eventually.

For an overview of the First Quarter Storm, see also Manuel L. Quezon III’s The Defiant Era, January 30, 2010.