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Remember Ninoy


Thirty years after, the fact, it has become fashionable among certain members of the population, especially the younger generation, to dismiss Ninoy Aquino’s heroism and legacy. This historical revisionism is practically a cottage industry online, where anti-Ninoy screeds, sometimes accompanied by slickly made videos, regularly sprout and are furiously passed on. The charges range from historically insupportable details (that Ninoy and Marcos were in fact in close contact with each other throughout the martial law years, so the former’s struggle for freedom against the dictatorship was a sham) to risible gossip (that Ninoy and Cory were about to get a divorce, and Ninoy was suffering from some ailment, so his return to Manila and eventual death at the hands of Marcos’ soldiers was no act of martyrdom but a staged suicide).

Coupled with this denigration of Ninoy’s memory is the airbrushing of the dictator’s. It’s claimed that the Philippines had the best economy under Marcos, and that it was an orderly society where corruption might have existed but not to the present runaway extent, and where law and order could be felt by ordinary citizens.

That nostalgia typically slides into a specific call for action: to bring back the “glory” of the Marcos years and elect his son and namesake to the presidency. It’s a campaign Sen. Bongbong Marcos himself feigns to be surprised about. When presented by an obscure group called Kilusang Bagong Liwanag with a letter expressing support for his putative candidacy in 2016, he said he didn’t know what it meant. And the group whose name attempts to echo Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan? “That’s news to me. I’ve never heard of Kilusang Bagong Liwanag before,” he said.

It’s a bitter testament to the failure of the Filipino people to remember their dark past, and learn lessons from it, that the Marcos son—distinguished in the martial law years only for the undistinguished life he led as a pampered young playboy partying aboard the presidential yacht—is now being hailed by some quarters as the savior of the fraying nation his own family had run to the ground. And it’s a bitter testament to the Filipino people’s abysmal capacity for remembering that Ninoy Aquino is now routinely matched up with and mentioned in the same breath as the Marcos dictatorship.

Those who were alive when Ninoy was assassinated on Aug. 21, 1983, instinctively knew that a tectonic shift had occurred. Millions of ordinary Filipinos finally shook off their fear of the dictatorship and poured into the streets to bury him, even as the controlled press completely ignored the upheaval happening in the streets, the largest funeral the country had ever seen (one newspaper famously carried as its headline a story about an onlooker killed by a bolt of lightning).

That anecdote sums up well the brutal absurdity of life under Marcos, and there’s great irony in the fact that many of those who dismiss Ninoy now in the social media while singing hosannas to Marcos will not even be able to enjoy the freedom to rant online under the dictatorship. It’s true: Any expression of criticism or of bile against the “New Society” meant the risk of being arrested by the dreaded military; it meant being jailed and tortured like the tens of thousands of freedom fighters across the land who remain unsung and uncompensated for their hardships until now—or, in the case of prominent names like Ninoy, accorded a kangaroo trial whose outcome was predetermined in Malacañang.

In 1982, a year before his final trip home, Ninoy wrote an essay that appeared in the quarterly journal Solidarity. Three decades later, it remains a strikingly prescient document, one that his son, the current President, would do well to reread: “Purveyors of the rosy picture continue to roll out endless statistics and charts to depict a growing economy, a country on the move,” it began. But “[b]eneath the outpourings of self-serving government data, hidden underneath the trappings of the good life in the big cities, there remains a depressed and dispirited people.”

Ninoy Aquino’s crystal-clear view of the ills that plagued the country, his willingness to stand by his beliefs in the face of brutal state oppression, and most importantly, his faith in the capacity of Filipinos to find the better angels of their nature, were the spark that eventually razed a dictatorship and brought back democracy 30 years ago. Was it all worth it? Only if the Filipino people prove that they’re indeed worth dying for.


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Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=59273

Tags: Aquino assassination , benigno `ninoy’ Aquino jr. , editorial , History , Ninoy Aquino , opinion

  • http://www.yahoo.com JOSE RIZAL

    Ninoy’s heroism courtesy of the fanatic media & the oligarchs…
    Who’s the revisionist and who’s telling the facts… Nobody condones what had happened during the Martial Law years. One side of it was due to the sprouting and widespread communism in Southeast Asia. Marcos is Marcos but Ninoy is not a hero. Never will he be a true hero…

    • jElly_aCe

      tomohh! saludo ako sau kabayan! malawak ang pag iisip mo pero sad to say hindi ganyan tingin ng karamihan.. c ninoy ang pag asa ng bayan at c cory ay gustong gawing saint .. tsk!

    • Ren-ren

      OFWs nga hero e, si Ninoy hindi? Unfair!

    • kurakot

      I thought it was Marcos who claimed he was a hero during WWII. Hehehe, feke pala ung medalia nya. The Americans would not confirm awarding the medals that Marcos had claimed he received form them. Hehehe.

  • Fred Garcia

    Ninoy was a foolishness in the past!

  • http://www.yahoo.com JOSE RIZAL

    There can be no real reconciliation and real progress in the future and the present will be full of gimmickry and smoke & mirrors, when we fake our heroes…

    • panhase

      Like Marcos with his fake medals.

  • http://www.yahoo.com JOSE RIZAL

    Let the people of this country weave its own simple heroic story. A good Tatay to his child, a good Nanay of the house, a good businessman/woman to his/her community, and the like. Self-reflection on one’s own daily heroism. Heroism that is not brought about by external marketing and brainwashing.

    You are the real hero, if you know what it means to be a Filipino. Trust yourself. Hold on to that good in you. And no amount of fake heroes would ruin your country. Take charge of yourself. Dare to question the gods. Dare to stand against your god’s will. Be resolute. You know it, afterall, you’re a good Filipino. Even if your past and all the rationalizations would bring you down, stand firm, you can write your own simple hero story. Because heroism is within you. It’s not brought about by family names, nor, it’s a bequeathal of a torch from parents, nor inherited. You’re a Filipino. You can be a hero.

    To be a good Filipino, is to be a hero.

    • johnllander

      Pakunwari ka pang marcos loyalist na ito. Pahero hero ka pa, ngunit pro-dictator ka, pro marcos na magnanakaw ka!

      Change your username, don’t use the name of the true hero Jose Rizal because your thoughts are the opposite of a true hero. You’re a disgrace to the true hero!

  • jElly_aCe

    ahh c ninoy, edsa 1.. punong puno ng drama, simisigaw ng demokrasya eh nde nmn cla nka kulong at masasabeng wlang freedom, mga media na over acting at patong patong na reports nila na wla nmng basehan kundi emosyon at hearsay, mga pnoys na padalos dalos kung mag isip, mabilis maniwala sa tsismis ng media , mga pnoys na nakiki ride on sa L sign, mga pnoys na sunod sunuran sa lhat ng pnag uutos ng mga elites na nde mka porma kay marcos kaya nag take advantage sa sitwasyon at lalong sindidhan ang nag iinit na mga pnoys pra sa himagsikan.. ngayon.. ung mga elites na un anjan lng sa tabi tabi, nde na mabilang ang yaman, mga sandamakmak na kwatan sa gobyerno, habang buhay na pamumuno ng pamilyang aquino.. may pagkakaiba ba kabayan?

  • dos_sentimos

    All these BS that’s happening in our politics today are not Ninoy’s fault. His death ended Marcos’s tyrrany, it is what it is. He may not be a hero for some of you but for most people who suffered a lot during martial law feel otherwise.

    • jElly_aCe

      ung mga taong nag suffer during martial law bakit nga ba? gusto kc umepal sa gobyerno ni marcos pero supalpal agad, ngayon, ang daming epalites sa gobyerno, buong family at angkan.. anyare??? waley!

    • ManilaMan

      Of course, his death ended tyranny only to replace it with even more tyranny. (At least that’s what the CPP-NPA-NDF claims, the same organization behind the opposition led by Ninoy then). I think they call it extrajudicial killings now though.

  • johnllander

    Nagsilabasan an naman yung mag pro marcos, mga marcos loyalist!

    At sila rin yung mga pro-corona noong impeachment.

    What can you expect from them? Of course they want to change the history because they can’t believe that their hero, the dictator, was ousted by the people. Until now they are still dreaming of their happy days during the dictatorship.

    • ManilaMan

      You’re right. These pro-Danding Cojuangco are disgusting.
      Having said that, why can’t we all be like the mastermind behind Ninoy’s killing? Happy both during and after Martial Law, up to the present administration. We take all sides for maximum benefits.

  • opinon only

    Who cares about the aquinos, son is a disappointment, father would have been also if he lived, the grandfather a japanese collaborator, the wife of ninoy clueless housewife that had no business being president, one of the daughters is a gonorrhea talk show host with an irritating whining voice, the other daughter is balls(y). It might be only me but this family does not look exceptional. And the son always smiling like some down syndrome child. This is the best that our nation can produce? A family of misfits.

    • kurakot

      With all the attacks on Ninoy Aquino and the praises of Marcos, I just cant help but think that these are signs that the old days are just around the corner. Is the young Marcos running for the highest office of the land next election? This is a welcome news for all the followers, believers and cronies of the grand corrupt man, or perhaps they know all about this and are the one making all these noises, confusions and false claims . And why not? The country has generated so much wealth over time since the pretend war hero turned godsend leader was thrown out of Malacanang. Now they think it is time to put them to a greater purpose of feeding the ever hungry sharks and crocodiles of the country. The corrupt military elite will again rule the cities and countryside and the fictionalized communist groups (aka special military division) will again scare the hell out of the ordinary people. Salvaging of innocent civilians and political enemies will again become daily occurrences. The poor OFW who help the country rebuild the national reserve will need to learn that the hard earned money they make from leaving their love ones behind and work in faraway places of middle east or Africa will soon end up being used for a greater purpose, that is, enriching again the corrupt family from the north and their followers, believers and cronies everywhere.



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