In the sweltering TV studio, a priest in a white cassock shared space with a soldier with an M16 rifle. Boxes of Dunkin Donuts were broken out, cigarettes lit and talk continued live on the air on how to drive President Ferdinand Marcos out of the country.
"The new and better Channel 4," as opposition announcers proudly call the station that rebel troops seized Monday morning, for the first time has given Marcos' critics direct access to the television sets of millions of Filipinos.
"This is one of the few revolutions in the world that is being fought on TV and radio," said Bong Lapira, an opposition commentator who manned the microphone for much of Monday afternoon.
When the rebels made their first offensive foray outside their headquarters compound Monday morning, it was no surprise that their objective was the government Office of Media Affairs' huge radio and television broadcasting center in Quezon City, a Manila suburb.
Seized from private owners in 1972 when Marcos declared martial law, the station for years has been vilified by his critics as a tool to mold public opinion. It also houses the official Voice of the Philippines radio.
The rebels got an extra treat with their timing: they were able to pull the plug on Marcos as he was making a live address from the Malacanang presidential palace. The screen went dead and returned an hour or two later under new management. The takeover also prevented Marcos from using television to communicate with the public for several hours during a crucial period Monday.
In one of the most startling symbols of the upset of Marcos' 20-year order here, people can now hear from Marcos' critics and soldiers seated on talk shows, where until Monday nothing but praise for the president was heard. Behind them is a large hand-painted poster that says "Mabuhay Ang Kalayaan" (Long Live Freedom).
Channel 4 is now switching live to rebel headquarters as commanders there appeal to military academy classmates to join them. It is airing shots of citizen barricades on the streets of Manila and reports of talks of U.S. sanctuary for Marcos.
At midmorning Monday, two truckloads of troops sent by the mutineers shot their way into the station, wounding two or three pro-Marcos defenders inside and taking one casualty themselves. One station employe was reported to have died of a heart seizure during the attack.
Pro-Marcos troops made a half-hearted attempt to take it back later in the morning, but gave up after a 20-minute exchange of fire.
Marcos maintained control of at least one station, Channel 9, Monday night. It aired periodic statements from him from the palace, often with his family in attendance. Otherwise, it ran disco shows and other entertainment.
The opposition here has access to a number of newspapers. But in radio and television, it always had been at a disadvantage because of government ownership of stations or control through ownership by various cronies of Marcos.
During the presidential campaign of opposition candidate Corazon Aquino, the Catholic church's shoestring operation, Radio Veritas, turned into a crucial information lifeline for the opposition, broadcasting an endless stream of announcements, speeches and commentary on the campaign.
Equally partisan anchors were heard on Channel 4 and government radio. One who was despised by the opposition was Ronnie Nathanielsz, a Sri Lankan-born commentator given citizenship by Marcos through a presidential decree. He could always be counted on to ask Marcos a kind question in an interview, opposition members said.
Before the military revolt, Channel 4 was picketed by anti-Marcos people with signs reading "Cronnie Satanials" and "Deport Ronnie."
Nathanielsz was apparently not in the station Monday when rebel troops took over. But his frequent partner on the air, Rita Gaddi Baltazar, was. According to one opposition official, she was being held Monday afternoon in an upper-floor room in the station, to protect her from a crowd of civilians that had gathered outside.
It was Marcos' side that seems to have declared broadcasting stations fair game in the struggle. Early Sunday morning, opposition members said, a number of armed men stormed into a building housing Radio Veritas' main transmitter and, using axes, smashed equipment. The station switched to a backup system that gave a badly distorted but still comprehensible signal.
Events of Monday morning have led to speculation that the military rebellion leaders, Marcos' former defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and armed forces acting chief of staff Fidel Ramos, using the broadcast media, pulled off a misinformation ruse in an attempt to create a bandwagon mood and speed defections from Marcos' camp.
Early Monday morning, Radio Veritas was passing on unconfirmed reports that Marcos and his family had fled the country and that the fight was over. When Ramos and Enrile delivered speeches proclaiming the Marcos era over and him gone, Radio Veritas carried it live.
It is difficult to believe the two were so poorly informed. But certainly people believed them. In the next hours, before it became clear that Marcos was still in the palace, Manila erupted into a victory celebration, with Aquino banners coming out on apartment balconies and jubiliant people lining the streets.
Later in the day, Radio Veritas' people resumed transmission of their programming over one of the captured broadcast center's stronger frequencies. Its people now are boasting that it is being heard all the way to Indonesia.
The takeover was a personal victory for many people at the microphone Monday, such as Bong Lapira, who had worked there but was purged with the advent of Marcos' martial law in 1972.
Euphoria reigned there Monday afternoon as several thousand Filipinos gathered out front and troop reinforcements arrived. In the lobby, donated food was stacked near about 10 disarmed Marcos soldiers, who were seated on the floor with little apparent discomfort along a wall.
Visitors circulated through the studios and applauded the stronger jabs at Marcos from behind cameras.
Fears remained, however, that Marcos would attempt to knock it off the air, with a ground raid or perhaps an air strike. But Francisco Batacan, a Radio Veritas broadcaster who until 1972 was the news director of Channel 4, said any danger is worth it. "The triumph of the Filipino people has never been better than now," he said.