Ninoy’s letter to Noynoy
Son, the ball is now in your hands.
This is the last line in the letter of Ninoy Aquino, 41, to his only son, Noynoy Aquino. The boy was only 13 years old when his father, jailed for over a year, defied President Ferdinand Marcos and his military commission by refusing to accept the tyrant’s likely verdict of life imprisonment or untimely death. I consider this letter, marked “personal” and written by Ninoy near midnight on Aug. 25, 1973 in his Fort Bonifacio cell, as recruiting the young Noynoy to the cause of the nation. It is as if Ninoy put Noynoy on the path of destiny to become the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines, as he did for Cory Aquino, the 11th President.
I wonder how many fathers have written letters to their sons. Many bequeath riches. But this father bequeathed a gargantuan task. To many people, this patriotic quest is a thankless task. To others, it was even presumptuous for Ninoy to expect that his son would matter in a world of evil, corruption, selfishness, and calumny. But it was like an established Aquino tradition. Ninoy was merely passing the gauntlet he had inherited from his father, who in turn got it from his father. These Aquinos marched to their own drums—seemingly quixotic outliers who strove to turn the nation aright even against the sadly selfish inclinations of its elite and people.
Relish excerpts from this momentous, heartwarming letter:
“My dearest Son:
“I have decided not to participate in the proceedings of the Military Commission assigned to try the charges filed against me by the army prosecution staff. As you know, I’ve been charged with illegal possession of firearms, violation of RA 1700 otherwise known as the ‘Anti-Subversion Act’ and murder.
“Son, my decision is an act of conscience. It is an act of protest against the structures of injustice that have been imposed upon our hapless countrymen. Futile and puny as it will surely appear to many, it is my last act of defiance against tyranny and dictatorship.
“You are my only son. You carry my name and the name of my father. I have no material wealth to leave you. I never had time to make money while I was in the hire of our people… The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you now is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now pass it on to you, as good, I pray, as when my father, your grandfather, passed it on to me.
“… Some people suggested that I beg for mercy from the present powers that be. Son, this I cannot do in conscience. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live on bended knees in shame… It takes little effort to stop a tyrant. I have no doubt in the ultimate victory of right over wrong, of good over evil, in the awakening of the Filipino.
“Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the great responsibility for our family. I trust you will love your mother and your sisters and lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them… Look after your two younger sisters with understanding and affection. Viel and Krissy will need your umbrella of protection for a long time. Krissy is still very young and fate has been most unkind to both of us. Our parting came too soon. Please make up for me. Take care of her as I would have taken care of her with patience and warm affection. Finally, stand by your mother as she stood beside me through the buffeting winds of crisis and uncertainties, firm and resolute and uncowed. I pray to God, you inherit her indomitable spirit and her rare brand of silent courage…
“There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.
“Son, the ball is now in your hands. Lovingly, Dad”
I am deeply saddened by President Noynoy’s death. As President—and son, brother, and uncle to his family—he could not have made Ninoy Aquino prouder. I give him a snappy salute. But I cannot avoid a little smile when I sense that these Aquinos, President Cory included, uncannily wield death like a timely, compelling flare that tilts and pulls the nation closer to its destined path.
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