Matanglawin: Historical road of many names

by Grace Sucgang, Multimedia Producer, Matanglawin

Posted at Mar 05 2012 10:16 AM | Updated as of Mar 05 2012 07:47 PM

If you live in the busy parts of the metro, chances are, you’ve passed this road many times. But how much do you really know about EDSA?


It’s probably one of the most popular avenues in the country with even world-wide recognition of its name because of the first bloodless revolution that was held after 14 years under Martial Law.

But if it’s so famous, why is it that a lot of people passing through it have little idea what the long stretch of EDSA is all about?

With almost 300,000 cars, 7,000 buses and who knows how many commuters that pass through EDSA everyday, Kuya Kim and Teddy decided to find out for themselves what EDSA means to the common madlang person in this day and age.

Armed with his trusty guitar, Teddy asked around what EDSA means. To his dismay, a lot of people really don’t know what the letters E, D, S and A stand for. It could have gone on forever, but Teddy was saved by a knowledgeable MMDA officer who promptly answered Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue, named after a multi-talented man who was also known as Don Panyong the historian, poet, and many more.

It wasn’t an easy thing to decide on a name. In its 72 years of existence, EDSA has been called many things, beginning with North and South Circumferential Road then Highway 54 in 1945 after American tradition. Then ensued the debate whether it should be called Jose Rizal Avenue, Ramon Magsaysay Avenue, McArthur Highway, even Corazon Aquino Avenue after the late President died in 2009…but in the end, because of his contributions in knowledge about the workings of the Katipunan, Don Panyong won and so EDSA was named after him.

This avenue runs from Pasay to Caloocan and if you were to walk the length of it, as Teddy attempted to do, it would take an estimated 8-12 hours or 30,000 steps. That would be the same as travelling straight to Bicol. But can you imagine walking 79 times this length? If yes, then you’re one destined to travel the longest road in the world: Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada!

Aside from being one of the main thoroughfares of the metro, EDSA is also known for being a symbol of democracy because of its role in becoming the gathering point of two million Filipinos- enough people to fill the Araneta Coliseum 133 times over- to rally for democracy during the Marcos regime. Twenty-six years ago, for four days, from February 22 until 25 in 1986, people rallied and prayed and danced and sang in EDSA, without as much as raising their fists against the many armed men that were sent to disperse them.

This phenomenon of mass gathering isn’t limited to us humans because animals also pack together to achieve a common goal. Such animals with herd behavior include Philippine Macaques, Hamadryas Baboons, Wolves and Siberian Huskies!

There was even a time when a pack of a hundred Siberian Huskies, led by its Alpha Male named Balto, were tasked to deliver medicine to a very sick town a thousand kilometers away while braving the a snowstorm!

The time before and during the EDSA Revolution was also the period where yellow became the color in vogue, not because of fashion but because of what it stood for. As popularized by Orlando and Dawn in the 70s, the song “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” inspired people to tie yellow ribbons to anticipate the arrival of Ninoy Aquino after almost a decade of exile.

Guns and tanks? The people’s answer was food, flowers and prayer, hence the first bloodless revolution.

But could you imagine what events could have followed if the tanks at EDSA did not stay put? For one thing, as Kuya Kim proved when he became a tank commander for a day is that a tank can flatten and destroy metal drums and wooden tables without a hitch.

Army tanks were first used by the British, French and Germans during the 1960s. However, it was only during World War II that the Philippines used army tanks. Now, there are around a hundred tanks in the Philippines with most stationed in Tarlac and Mindanao.

Despite its scary appearance, these combat machines have an interesting history starting with its conception by an English farmer named William Foster. Foster thought that his Holt Tractor could take on a lot of weight and so tried outfitting it with a cannon up front. The idea appealed to the British army and so the army tank was born.

But how did it get its name? It was developed, stored and shipped in secrecy and thus required an alias. The boxes where the pieces where hidden bore the name “Water Tank” to avoid suspicion.

Like a normal vehicle, army tanks require a driver. The inside of a tank is like a control center and it is crucial for the commander to quickly and specifically relay orders to the driver and gunner so that they can complete their mission well.

Army tanks are as tough as nails, but did you know that there is also an animal that’s so tough that in ancient times helmets were made out of its carapace? You guessed it right, alligator snapping turtles have shells or carapaces so tough that they exceed an engineer’s helmet ten times in durability!

However, alligator snapping turtles don’t attack at whim although its attack would probably cause one to lose a finger when this turtle chomps down!

It just goes to show that with the right provocation, there would result great actions…such as that of the events at EDSA.

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