Gregorio “Gringo” Ballesteros Honasan II was born the son of Colonel Romeo Honasan and Alice Ballesteros on March 14, 1948 in Baguio City, Philippines. In the early years before his military and political career, Gringo accomplished much. He studied both in the Philippines and abroad, getting accelerated through elementary school at San Beda College, Dominican School in Taipei, Taiwan, and Don Bosco High School in Mandaluyong, Philippines. His success continued during his years of higher education, going to the Philippine Military Academy for a Bachelor of Science in 1971, and eventually obtaining the title of a “Class Baron” – the institution’s highest leadership award. Gringo further pursued his academic career by taking up a Masters Degree in Business Management at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), finishing the course with distinction.
Honasan took a step in a different direction when he joined the Philippine Army as soon as he graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1971. He first became a part of the 1st Home Defense Group (Airborne), later performing combat duties as a member of the 1st Composite Infantry Battalion of the AFP in Mindanao. His 16 years of service in active combat duty did not go unacknowledged, shortly receiving not only three Distinguished Stars of Counter Insurgency Operations Against Economic Saboteurs and Drug Traffickers, but three Gold Cross Medals for Gallantry in Action in the Battles of Lebak, Jolo and Zamboanga in 1973 to 1974, Military Merit Medals, Military Commendation Medals, Anti-Insurgency Medals, Anti-Secessionist Medals, and Wounded Personnel Medals for wounds sustained in actual combat, to name a few. One of his major accomplishments was his interception of a major shipment of heroin worth 6.7 million USD destined for the United States while he was still a young officer. He climbed the ranks and found himself as the aide-de-camp to the then Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in 1974 until he became the Ministry of National Defense’s Chief of Security in 1981. All his successes paid off, finally being named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines in 1985.
Despite these fancy titles and awards, he is most known for his role under the Marcos Regime. In 1986, Honasan and his trusted colonels attempted to overthrow President Ferdinand Marcos by creating the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and by using popular unrest. When their schemes were discovered, the already distraught public consisting of civilians, the media, and the Catholic Church were ready to protect them by acting as human shields for Honasan and his men. This sparked the 1986 People Power Revolution, which eventually toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. As the Chief of Security of the Ministry of National Defense, he also played a significant role in restoring democracy throughout the country and installing Corazon Aquino as the new President of the Philippines. His efforts were once again recognized, President Aquino awarding him a Distinguished Conduct Star for the EDSA Revolution and the Presidential Government Medal.
Having humble beginnings, Gregorio B. Honasan began as a mere soldier. Through his ambitions and strongly-held opinions, he was able to rise through the ranks and fulfill what seemed to be his destiny. He always cared about the people, recognizing that the government that he fought for was corrupt and needed to change. He was ultimately successful, pulling the Philippines out of the darkness under the Marcos’ regime and martial law, and bringing it into the land of the never-setting golden sun.
♥ Jessel Villegas