“I believe that the Filipino will respond to the call of greatness, not by coercion, but by persuasion, not by intimidation, but through the ways of freedom. Peace and order without freedom is nothing more than slavery. Discipline without justice is merely another name for oppression.” ~Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.
Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. was born on November 27, 1932, in Tarlac Province, on the island of Luzon, to a prominent family. He was the grandson of a general and the son of a Philippine senator who was also a wealthy landowner. His ambition and energy stood out early when, at age seventeen, he was sent by the Manila Times newspaper to report on the Korean War (1950–53). The war was between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and was a war in which the United States and China eventually joined. Appointed by President Ramon Magsaysay on October 14, 1954 Ninoy successfully negotiated the surrender of Luis Taruc, leader of the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon) and was presented the Philippine Legion of Honor.
At age twenty-two Aquino became the Philippines’ youngest mayor in his hometown of Concepción. Just six years later he became governor of Tarlac province (a position similar to governing a state). In 1967, Aquino once again made history when he became the youngest senator ever elected in the Philippines. Meanwhile he married Corazon Cojoangco, with whom he eventually raised five children.
Benigno Aquino was a leading opponent of the rule of President Ferdinand Marcos (1917–1989), who governed the Philippines from 1966 to 1986. Aquino’s opposition ended in August 1983 when, after living in the United States for three years, he returned to the Philippine capital of Manila and was assassinated at the airport. Aquino’s death touched off massive demonstrations against President Marcos in the People’s Revolution.
Aquino became famous for his gifts as a public speaker and for his brilliant mind, as well as his great indomitable spirit. He became the leading candidate for the presidency in 1973, when President Marcos was scheduled to leave office after completing the maximum two terms as president. Aquino’s ambition to be president was never realized, however, because President Marcos declared martial law (a state of emergency in which military authorities are given temporary rule). At the same time, Marcos began to transform the constitution, claiming supreme power and jailing his political opponents, including Aquino. Aquino was charged with murder, subversion (intention to undermine legal authority), and illegal possession of firearms. Although he denied the charges, Aquino was found guilty and was convicted by a military tribunal, or military court and sent to prison.
During his time in prison, he was in solitary confinement, which also included no outside visitors. This time spent in isolation, Aquino uses it to reflect on his life. He reflected spiritually more than ever in his life without being bitter and within the state of mind and spirit that without surrendering one’s courage. After Aquino spent seven years and seven months in prison, he suffered a heart attack. He was scheduled to receive treatment from President Marcos doctor, but denied treatment and was then sent to the United States for an emergency bypass surgery.
He remained in the U.S. for three years. He and wife Corazon Aquino and family were reunited once again. They lived in Boston, Massachusetts where Senator Aquino became a fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Studies. In addition, he conducted research on how to restore democracies in countries around the world through peaceful means. Aquino believed in the power to contaminate one’s knowledge about another person’s courage and passion because it’s contagious.
In 1983, Aquino delivered a speech in Los Angels, California. Through a powerful and moving moment, he vows he will never enter the political arena. Even through his absence in politics, he declared his dedication to evoke the people of the Philippines that they can acquire freedom.
Aquino evoked the people of the Philippines to awaken their senses that freedom ispossible.
Aquino remained in the United States as a refugee until returning to the Philippines in the same year he delivered the Los Angeles speech.
Prior to his departure for the Philippines, a colleague of his warned him, “When you arrive off
the plane, you will be shot!” A moment of silence fell between the two and Aquino responded, “Even if I were placed in a box, I will still go home because the Filipinos are worth dying for.” Upon arrival at the Manila International Airport, he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.
Soldiers of the Aviation Security Command in turn gunned down his slayer.
People’s Power Revolution
Aquino was dedicated with indomitable spirit, to fight for justice and democracy. Stephen J. Solarz of the U.S. Congress (1974-1992) said of Ninoy Aquino’s indomitable spirit, “The triumph of People’s Power in the Philippines has been a source of enduring inspiration to millions of men and women who year for democracy in their own countries.
In 1986, the People’s Revolution was a turning point in world history. Because of the untimely death of Ninoy, the dormant longing of Filipinos for freedom erupted on February 25, 1986, the first-ever People Power EDSA Revolution, a peaceful revolution that has been witnessed by the entire world. The peaceful protest proved to the world that we could attain positive change in our country without using violence on innocent people. After the death of Ninoy Aquino, the rest of the world started to realize that if they do not build a democracy in Asian countries, people of other countries may not endure a kind of dictatorship. A quote from Aquino states, “Our job is to awaken our people from their lethargy. We must infuse them with the want to again become free.” He believed that everybody in the Philippines is capable of reaching freedom.
The Philippines Revolution because a model for all of the revolutions that occurred in the end of the Cold War as well as in other places throughout Latin American and a number of other places in the world. Ninoy Aquino believed in the idea of the power of the truth. The power to say no and to say, “No!” you protest, “The moment you say no to tyranny, you are beginning the struggle, the long lonely road to freedom. And so I ask this afternoon, please say no and learn to say no. No to tyranny! No to corruption! No to all this degradation of human dignity! Because then, I feel the true air of your fathers who before you have shed their blood for our freedoms.”
He received the nickname of Superboy, which may be too superficial or perhaps a fictitious character from a comic book, but the moniker suits him. He was neither short of Super nor a boy, but a man who falls then learns to stand up with a better understanding of humiliation, bravery, and courage. We must not forget the voice of the Bayani who awaken us from tyranny.
Author, Margarita Mansalay