Today in History : February 24th

On this date in...

1862: Filipino revolutionary General Edilberto T. Evangelista, is born in Santa Cruz, Manila; a civil engineering graduate from Belgium's University of Ghent, he was responsible for ably directing all the entrenchment and defense works of the revolutionaries, thus giving the Spanish colonial forces considerable trouble in the many battles during the Philippine Revolution of 1896.

1986: At dawn on Monday, the first serious encounter with government troops occurred. Marines marching from Libis, in the east, lobbed tear gas at the demonstrators, who quickly dispersed. Some 3,000 Marines then entered and held the east side of Camp Aguinaldo. Later, helicopters manned by the 15th Strike Wing of the Philippine Air Force, led by Colonel Antonio Sotelo, were ordered from Sangley Point in Cavite (South of Manila) to head to Camp Crame. Secretly, the squadron had already defected and instead of attacking Camp Crame, landed in it, with the crowds cheering and hugging the pilots and crew members. A Bell 214 helicopter piloted by Major Deo Cruz of the 205th Helicopter Wing joined the rebel squadron earlier in the air. The presence of the helicopters boosted the morale of Enrile and Ramos who had been continually encouraging their fellow soldiers to join the opposition movement. In the afternoon, Aquino arrived at the base where Enrile, Ramos, RAM officers and a throng were waiting.

1986: At around that time, June Keithley received reports that Marcos had left Malacañang Palace and broadcasted this to the people at EDSA. The crowd celebrated and even Ramos and Enrile came out from Crame to appear to the crowds. The jubilation was however short-lived as Marcos later appeared on television on the government-controlled Channel 4, (using the forclosed ABS-CBN facilites, transmitter and compound) declaring that he would not step down. It was thereafter speculated that the false report was a calculated move against Marcos to encourage more defections. During this broadcast, Channel 4 suddenly went off the air. A contingent of rebels, under Colonel Mariano Santiago, had captured the station. Channel 4 was put back on line shortly after noon, with a voice declaring, "This is Channel 4. Serving the people again." By this time, the crowds at EDSA had swollen to over a million. (Some estimates placed them at two million.) This broadcast was considered the "return" of ABS-CBN on air because this was the time when former employees of ABS-CBN were inside the complex after 14 years of closure since Marcos took it over during the Martial law of 1972. The people who were manning this broadcast were the likes of June Keithley, Fr. Aris Sison, Fr. Efren Datu, Fr. Bong Bongayan, Jose Mari Velez, Orly Punzalan and were directed by Johnny Manahan with former ABS employees. Also this was the first time when the late Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr.'s cousin Augusto "Jake" Lopez stepped into ABS-CBN after it had been closed. In the late afternoon, rebel helicopters attacked Villamor Airbase, destroying presidential air assets. Another helicopter went to Malacañang, fired a rocket and caused minor damage. Later, most of the officers who had graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) defected. The majority of the Armed Forces had already changed sides.

2000: Mount Mayon, one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, erupted after lying dormant for eight months. The active volcano spewed lava, rocks, and ash repeatedly over the next three days. Volcanologists at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology have warned of the likely possibility of bigger eruptions in the near future, with the greatest effects on the southeast and southwest sectors of the volcano. The volcano has already hurled molten boulders and 3,000-meter columns of ash into the air forcing an evacuation of some 50,000 people in a eight-kilometer radius around the crater. Volcanic debris estimated at 60 million metric tons are now lodged into the volcano's gullies. Heavy rainfall could cause more calamity in the form of mudflows. This week's In the News takes a closer look at the volcanic activity at Mount Mayon.

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