Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Remarkable Man


If this guy had not been shot dead 25 years ago he would have turned 76 years old today. Benigno Aquino Jr. better known as Ninoy was a former senator, governor, vice governor and mayor. Ninoy was a leader of the opposition to the rule of then president Ferdinand Marcos.

Ninoy came from a family involved with political heavyweights which may have influenced him to become the youngest municipal mayor at 22 and as the youngest governor of the country at 27. When he was 29 Ninoy became the governor of Tarlac and by the time he reached 34 he made history by becoming the youngest elected senator in the country.


Ninoy was so vocal about his views towards the Marcos regime and pointed out the wrongdoings done by the president and his cronies. When Martial Law was declared on September 21, 1972 Ninoy was among the first ones to be arrested and imprisoned on fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms, subversion, and murder.

In April of 1975 Ninoy stated that he was going on a hunger strike as a protest to the injustices of his military trial. During his hunger strike Ninoy relied on salt tablets, amino acids, sodium bicarbonate and two glasses of water every day. Ninoy lost 60 pounds off his original weight yet managed to keep himself Alive.


On November 25, 1977 the government-controlled Military Commission No. 2 found Ninoy guilty of all the charges against him and was sentenced to death by firing squad. Ninoy and many other people especially his family and supporters knew that Marcos would not let Ninoy suffer a death that would make him into a martyr.

In 1978 Ninoy was allowed to take part in the elections for Parliament and urged his supporters to organize and run 21 candidates in Metro Manila. All the candidates of his political party LABAN lost due to widespread election fraud.

In March 1980 Ninoy suffered a heart attach which could have been triggered by his 7 years in prison mostly in a solitary cell. He was taken to the Philippine Heart Centered and suffered from a second heart attack. The doctors did not want to perform a coronary bypass on Ninoy because they did not want to be involved in a controversy and Ninoy himself did not want to be operated on by local doctors for the fear that there may be foul play.

The first lady Imelda Marcos made a visit to Ninoy in May 1980 and asked him if he would like to leave for the United States that evening but he has to agree on two things that if he leaves he will return; and while in the US he should not speak ill against the Marcos regime. Ninoy and his family then flew off to the US.

It was in a hospital in Dallas, Texas that Ninoy was operated on and he made quick recovery. He broke his "pact" with the Marcoses and did what he wanted to do, he spoke out! Years lated Ninoy decided to go back to the Philippines, fully aware of the dangers that awaited him.

On August 21, 1983 Ninoy was shot in the head upon his descent from the plane on the Manila International Airport which is now named after him as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

"The Filipino is worth dying for."

Ninoy may be known to most people nowadays as the guy on the 500 Peso bill, as the father of Kris Aquino, the late husband of then President Cory Aquino, etc., etc....

But who was Ninoy and what did he do to inspire people to stand up against oppression?

Honestly I am not a big Ninoy fan unlike some people I know who call him a hero. True he can be called a hero in his own right but I'm sorry I am not that convinced with labeling.

Then why did I make this post?

I find Ninoy a remarkable man. Without his intelligence and sarcasm against the oppressors, he would not have caused a stir in society and the people of the nation may have remained deaf and mute towards the reality that there was no freedom during that sad era of Philippine history.

Was/Is Ninoy's death worth it? At that time it might have been worth it, democracy had been "restored"...but if you ask me if his martyrdom 25 years ago still has an impact on our current state, I don't know, I can't speak for myself.

In my humble opinion, we need another hero to "save" us from this ugly spell we are all in. Even though we try so damn hard to live our lives as honestly and as conscientiously as we can, there are people in higher positions either in the government or in the private sector who exploit us.

We are all Filipinos yet we exploit each other...and some of our "trusted" leaders even sell us out to people from other parts of the world, allowing them to exploit our resources either the natural ones, or labor...cheap labor...tsk tskk...

So where am I heading with this post? Hmm... I don't really know... There's no conclusion yet because the sad sorry state our country experienced during Martial Law is still being experienced nowadays...in more discreet yet more morbid ways...

Bottom line:

If Ninoy were still alive today and saw the changes he wanted for our nation, he would have become a grandfather playing with his grandchildren, a father who have guided his children well, a husband who went through challenges with his wife, a man who would have made the Philippines a better place to live...

Since the guy died too early, and had no chance to fulfill my what-if list, I just wish him to rest in peace.

Happy birthday old guy!



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