Man declared hero under specter of dictatorship
Tomorrow, AUG. 21, our nation commemorates the 33rd death anniversary of a great Filipino.
He was the mayor of his hometown, Concepcion, at age 22, the vice governor of Tarlac at age 27. Later, he ran for governor—and won. At age 34, he was a senator, the youngest ever elected to the position.
His better half, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, became the 11th president of the Republic of the Philippines. They had four daughters—Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris. His only son, Noynoy, the third child in the family, was elected president of the country, too—the 15th.
He was a man with a tenacious will, of indomitable courage, a relentless fighter for principle, No. 1 enemy of plunderers of the nation’s wealth, a tireless crusader against political windmills, a tried and tested political cliff-climber. All his qualities and goodness were in the superlatives, it is no wonder he soared to heights of greatness.
When he was jailed for going against the dictator, every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at eight o’clock in the evening, his family—Cory and their children—would be with him in his prison cell. There they would pray together, knowing their time for being together in those prison visits was too painfully short, limited, never enough. It was hard for them when the guard would signal that it was time for the wife and the children to leave.
One day his wife told the family that this man was sick and his heart was not functioning well. He was allowed to go to the United States for a heart operation. Soon after, this man recovered and got well. He spent time at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology on grants, but he could not forget the country he had left behind. He decided to go back home.
On his return, while descending the stairs of a plane that had brought him home, a bullet from a tyrant’s assassin felled him. The shot was loudly heard in the four continents of the world. His death was mourned by people all over.
Rewind. At one time in 1973, from his prison cell, this man wrote his son a letter which, in part, counseled the latter: “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 is the name you carry.”
He continued, “It takes little effort to stop a tyrant!… Live with honor and follow your conscience.”
His parting words? “In the coming years, you will have a solid foundation to build…. Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the responsibility for our family… lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them.”
It took almost 11 hours to bring his coffin out of Sto. Domingo Church to his burial place because millions of mourning Filipinos had joined or watched the funeral procession from the roadsides. They were armed with nothing but placards: “Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa,” as if with his death, he had called them to “join me in my crusade and continue the fight for a better Philippines.”
In closing his letter to Noynoy, he said: “There is no greater nation on earth than our motherland. No greater people than our own.” It was he, who also said, “The Filipino is worth dying for.”
Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., a man of his country, died for his country, and by his country. And his death made a name for freedom and democracy—to the glory of the Filipino people!
“Sumusulak yaong dugo, at may apoy yaong utak
Pinalayas ang diktador, at nawala ang kamandag
Nabulid sa kanyang hukay, taong bayan ay nagalak
Demokrasya’t kalayaan nanumbalik itong ganap
Kundi dahil sa kaniya wala tayong malalasap
Na laya at katarungan bansa nating Pilipinas.”
—RAYMUNDO R. BISA JR.
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