What a Coup!


I’m staying at The Linden Suites hotel in Manila, Philippines, this week. I’ve stayed here several times before, and it always strikes me as funny that they have the following plaque on the wall by the registration desk.

In case you have trouble reading it, it says,

THE COMMAND POST

at

THE LINDEN SUITES

January 16-20, 2001

The Linden Suites was privileged to have served as the “command post” of the brave men and women who led our people in a quest for truth and justice during the fateful days of January 16-20, 2001.

In the weeks before this historic event and during the days when Filipinos from all walks of life massed at the EDSA Shrine, THE LINDEN SUITES was the place where a broad, popular coalition was encamped to oppose a discredited administration. It was here that strategies were formed, momentous decisions were made, and millions were mobilized.

As media support was withdrawn from the discredited leadership and transfered to the constitutional incumbent, THE LINDEN SUITES hosted the transition leadership for the new government. During those historic days, this was the fulcrum on which power shifted. It was then that a new future became conceivable for the expectant people.

In the afternoon of January 20, immediately after she was elevated into the highest office of the country, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO returned to THE LINDEN SUITES to begin the immense task of rebuilding governance in this country.

THE LINDEN SUITES is proud to have served those who made history.

It commemorates the dates that a coup d’etat was held against the government of then President Joseph Estrada by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then vice-president. (It’s not always referred to as a coup, but that may be because it was well-organized and popular at the time.)

Coups are a fairly common occurrence in The Philippines, and they almost always involve the rebels holing up in some luxury hotel or luxury shopping center. (You’ve got to have the comforts of life during the stressful experience of overthrowing a government, you know.)

The plaque makes me grin whenever I see it, both for its shameless self-promotion and for its dubious value. There was a point in time when it probably brought notoriety to the hotel, but you have to wonder if people still think positive thoughts when they see it. As of July, President Arroyo’s approval rating sank to a new, all-time low (22%), making her “the country’s most unpopular president since democracy was restored in 1986” according to The Associated Press.

But still, she has withstood at least four coup and three impeachment attempts.  Popularity ain’t everything. Maybe the plaque can stay up a little longer.

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