Ninoy Aquino -- One good man  

Posted by Laya in

As an adolescent, all that I knew of Ninoy Aquino was that he was Cory Aquino's husband, assassinated on the tarmac as he stepped out of the plane when he arrived home after three years of exile. That his death on August 21, 1983, 26 years ago today, was said to have triggered the EDSA Revolution years later, led by his widow who later became President. He was the bespectacled man with the thoughtful gaze on the 500-peso bill, the one who believed that the Filipino is worth dying for. He was the father of Kris Aquino, the actress and TV personality, and of Noynoy Aquino, the politician.

Time went on, and the farther it went from 1986, the farther Ninoy Aquino, and even Cory Aquino, receded from memory as the first EDSA faded in people's minds. Ninoy became no more than the man on the 500-peso bill, his identity compressed into the six words many now considered a laughable banality. Cory became no more than what people viewed as the mother who "could not control" Kris Aquino, the former president who "could not control" many of the things that went on during her administration. Others even began to view EDSA as something that shouldn't have happened, as if things would really have been better under the Marcos dictatorship. A mere 15 years later, EDSA and Ninoy were often given no more than token remembrance when their anniversaries came around. They became "just another holiday," a time off from work or school. Some would even ask the relevance of these holidays, as if they deserved to be relegated into insignificance.

Then Cory got sick and died. And suddenly, with her passing, her late husband and the event they both catalyzed returned to centerstage. Suddenly, the Filipino people remembered that once they had laid their hopes for a better nation upon Ninoy and Cory and EDSA. Suddenly, we realized our hunger for good governance was still alive, though we might disguise it beneath apathy and cynicism at present conditions.

Our reawakening interest in all things Cory and Ninoy-related showed us the sacrifices they voluntarily underwent, with no other motive in mind than the good of the country, so different from the people we call our public officials whom we see and hear almost on a daily basis mouthing things the sincerity and veracity of which we often doubt. How could we believe the professed sincerity and dedication to duty of politicians who say things which their acts then often belie? Politicians who claim to have nothing but the country's welfare in mind, but then use their positions as public officials to line their pockets, expand their business interests, and raise their relatives and cronies to power. Politicians who when their acts are questioned, shrug the questions off as irritating persecutions by opponents or as complete fabrications engineered by enemies of the state, and issue blanket denials and reassurances, expecting people to go on believing what they say. Politicians who, even in the face of mounting dissent, show how little they care for the people they swore to serve when they accepted their positions by refusing to shape up and mend their ways, and even refusing to step down and turn over their posts once their terms have ended.

Ninoy Aquino suffered incarceration and solitary confinement as a matter of principle. His widow always dared to stand up and show civil disobedience even under threat of punishment to make a statement when she was fighting against something she perceived as wrong, fighting for something she perceived as right. How many of our politicians would do the same thing now? How many of us would do the same thing now? How many times have we jeered at activists, rallyists, or even just people fighting for a cause they believed in, and told them that martyrs get shot at the Luneta, implying of course that our first obligation is always to save ourselves at whatever cost? With such a mindset, no wonder our public officials are so free to do what they do. With such public officials to set such good examples, no wonder our people have degenerated to such a level of apathy, thinking only to survive even at the cost of their fellow Filipinos. There is no right and wrong anymore, only kapit sa patalim (clutching the blade), survival and self-prosperity at all costs.

We need more good men and women like Ninoy and Cory Aquino. People whose integrity shine through, unswayed by personal interest or greed for power. People whom we can put our faith in again, who will teach us to trust and who will justify that trust a million times over. People who have unshakable principles, lodestars we can count on to show us the way to a better country. People who can unite us again and bring out the best in us, the kernel of noble character buried deep within the Filipino people.

Because if a Ninoy and a Cory could bring out the best in us, how much more can five, or ten, or fifteen, or fifty, or a hundred such persons? But where will we find them now?

This entry was posted at Friday, August 21, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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