In commemoration of senator Ninoy Aquino’s death, MovePH ask people on the street how much they know about the national icon
NATIONAL ICON. Former Senator Ninoy Aquino’s death ignited protests across the country, culminating in a peaceful People Power uprising. Photo courtesy of Gov.ph
These are the immortalized words of senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. He is the man whose face is on the P500 bill, whose name our country’s airports were taken after, and whose death we commemorate as a national holiday on August 21. He was assassinated 32 years ago.
In remembrance of one of the Philippines’ national icons, MovePH took to the streets of Manila to find out how much people today know about senator Aquino and whether they think his death is worth commemorating.
'Who is Ninoy Aquino to you?'
When asked who Aquino is, those interviewed talked of his fight for democracy and his death by assassination.
UNICEF BRAND AMBASSADOR. Paul Adrian Escaño. Image courtesy of Vee Salazar
“Ninoy Aquino is one of the past senators of the Philippines,” said UNICEF Brand Ambassador Paul Adrian Escaño, 22.
“He’s one of the people who fought, really fought for democracy during the Marcos’s regime.”
Aquino was a longtime politician and the youngest senator ever to be elected in the Philippines. He became one of the country’s most vocal critics of Ferdinand Marcos, condemning the former president and dictator for alleged human rights violations and corruption.
“He was able to speak his mind and [carry out] big responsibilities at a very young age,” said Jac Alfaro Guevarra, a first year student at Far Eastern University.
“As a communication student, I idolize him because from what I know he was a journalist and he was able to deliver and (expose) nothing but the truth.”
Shortly after Marcos imposed Martial Law in 1972, Aquino was accused of murder, subversion, and weapons possession. He was jailed along with other political dissidents. From within prison, Aquino remained an active and powerful political player.
TEACH FOR THE PHILIPPINES. Maria Michaela Bautista. Image courtesy of Louie Arcilla Image courtesy of Anton Delgado
“He put his foot down and said no to a man who was ruining the country,” said Maria Michaela Bautista, a 25-year-old selection manager at Teach for the Philippines.
“He was one of the few who actually made a difference in the fight against Marcos.”
Aquino went on a hunger strike for 40 days to protest injustices. He lost 36 to 54 kilos, growing weaker everyday.
In 1977, the Military Commission found Aquino guilty of all charges and sentenced him to death.
When asked what Aquino was to her, Bautista said, “To me? Well, I guess he is a symbol that just reminds me to fight for what I believe is right.”
“What is he famous for?”
In mid-March of 1980, after spending 8 years in prison, Aquino suffered a heart attack. He was permitted to go to the United States for a heart bypass operation. He stayed there as a refugee before returning to the Philippines in 1983. Upon arrival, he was shot.
GRADUATE. Lorenzo Del Carmen. Image courtesy of Trina Quintos Image courtesy of Trina Quintos.
“Aquino returned from exile and got assassinated while going down the plane in NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport),” said Lorenzo Del Carmen, a recent graduate of De La Salle University.
Del Carmen believes Aquino’s assassination was the turning point in the fight against the Marcos dictatorship.
“His martyrdom...led to Ferdinand Marcos and his family leaving the Philippines,” he said.
Aquino’s death ignited protests across the country, culminating in the People Power uprising. Over two million Filipino civilians, fueled by years of resistance and opposition, took to EDSA to demonstrate against Marcos in the 3-day long non-violent revolution.
HOTELIER. Kristoffer Atienza. Image courtesy of Mono and Neath. Image courtesy of Mono Sukhomono and Monyneath Reth Image courtesy of Mono and Neath
“[Aquino] inspired people to fight for their right,” said Kristoffer Atienza, 42, the owner of Crossroads Hostel.
“He was someone who [gave] people the idealism of being free, someone to follow.”
The uprising finally forced Marcos to leave the country to Hawaii in February 1986. Shortly after, Aquino’s wife, the late Corazon Aquino, was inaugurated as president and today, Aquino’s son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, serves as the country’s 15th president.
“Do you think it’s important that we have a day to celebrate him?”
Guevarra believes having a day to commemorate Aquino’s death is a way for the people to learn more about him.
“Nowadays, I've observed that if you ask some teenagers ‘Who is Ninoy?’, the only thing they can tell you is that he got assassinated, or maybe they would say, ‘I know that when his death anniversary comes, there are no classes',” she said.
She admits that if she was not taking up communication at FEU, she probably would not know much about the national icon. She said it is important for today’s youth to "be aware of the sacrifices he made and also to (honor) his legacy.”
GRADUATE. Khalela Talion. Image courtesy of Trina Quintos. Image courtesy of Trina Quintos.
However, Khalela Talion, a recent graduate of De La Salle University, said there was no need for the Philippines to devote a day to celebrate senator Aquino.
“There are thousands of people who died for their country during Martial Law,” she said. “I’d rather celebrate their sacrifices as a whole than one person’s death. We Filipinos just like holidays.”
Atienza admitted that Aquino is a hero to a lot of people, but also echoed Talion’s sentiments.
“Is he my hero? Not to the fullest degree. His is a hero but as I understand now, anybody could have done it,” said Atienza.
He added that Aquino was “very courageous in being able to stand up against Marcos” during those draconian years, but “he had to give up his life” for change to happen.
“I admire him for what he has done but I won’t (consider him) a hero like Jose Rizal, who is a national hero,” he remarked.
“I just call him the very good leader but not a ‘hero', hero.”
What about you? Who is Ninoy Aquino to you? - with interviews from Rappler interns/Rappler.com
Published 3:58 PM, August 21, 2015
Updated 11:55 AM, August 25, 2015
Observed every year on August 21st in the Philippines, Ninoy Aquino Day is a commemorative holiday that commemorates the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. – also known as Senator Benigno Ninoy Aquino. Although Ninoy Aquino Day is a Federal holiday in the Philippines, it is a working holiday – meaning that workers don’t get paid for the day if they don’t attend work.
Benigno Aquino, Jr. was born on November 27, 1932 in Concepcion, Tarlac, Philippines. Throughout his early life, he went to many different schools, although he didn’t finish many of them to the end. His grade school education was finished at St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City and he received his high school diplomat from San Beda. He would then go on to attend Ateneo de Manila, in order to try to receive his Bachelor of Arts degree, but wasn’t able to finish because he became a war correspondent during the Korean War. After he finished that, he then tried to get his Law Degree at the University of the Philippines, but once again failed to finish because he took a journalism job. Eventually, he would realize his true calling, a career in politics, when he won election as mayor for the city of Concepcion in the mid-1950s. He was only twenty-two years old at the time. Just five years later, at the age of twenty-seven, he would become elected as vice-governor of Tarlac. This made him the youngest vice-governor in Philippine history at the time. Two years later he would become governor. By the end of 1967, he had become senator.
In 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial law, telling the people that this move would protect them from communism and a social upheaval. This effectively made the president a dictator. Senator Aquino spent much of his time speaking out against President Ferdinand Marcos and calling for the freedom of the people of the Philippines. For being so outspoken against Marcos, Aquino was imprisoned. In 1980, the Senator suffered a heart attack, but was allowed to travel to the U.S. to receive medical treatment for it.
Senator Aquino stayed in the United States for several years after his medical treatment, all the while speaking out against President Marcos and advocating for the freedom of his people. However, he would eventually travel back to the Philippines in 1983 to run against President Marcos in the 1984 presidential election. On August 21st of 1983, he landed at Manila International Airport and was assassinated on the tarmac. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. was 50 years old at the time.
In 2004, the Republic Act 9256 established Ninoy Aquino Day as an official holiday to be celebrated on August 21st on an annual basis.
Customs, Traditions And Celebrations
Several different activities are held on Ninoy Aquino Day to commemorate this holiday. Some of these activities – which include speeches, parades and other commemorative activities, are partly paid for by the government and partly by private donations.
Although workers don’t get a day off for Ninoy Aquino Day, they do get a bonus on their wages for working. Those who don’t work on this day do not receive pay for their time off.
When is Ninoy Aquino Day?
|This year (2018)||August 21 (Tuesday)||Multiple dates - more|
|Next year (2019)||August 21 (Wednesday)||Multiple dates - more|
|Last year (2017)||August 21 (Monday)||Multiple dates - more|