Monday, 18 August 2008

Remembering Ninoy

Note: I posted this topic on's forum. Later on, I realised I have a blog that has been blank for weeks. So here it goes...with some additions/revisions from my original post.

Of course, we all know Ninoy Aquino.

He's the glum-looking guy on the 500 peso bill.

He's Kris Aquino's dad -- whether it's a Deal or No Deal.

He "owns" the airport. (I heard this once)

(this is the actual gate where Ninoy was gunned down. Picture posted in flickr by brownpau)

Officially, he's the country's first First Gentleman -- his wife, of course, being the country's first woman President.

"Wala kaming pasok kasi Ninoy Day" -- is the expected quip of today's student or yuppie (do they still use this term?) when asked why they had a long weekend.

To the "oldies" like us, we remember Ninoy as the "subversive" who dared run -- and expectedly "lost" - against Imelda Marcos in the Interim Batasang Pambansa elections. I remembered that I was hushed with a collective and quick "shhhhhhhhhhhhh" when I asked my elders who this "Ninoy" is.

We were then in Grade 2 (San Beda was still fresh from successfully defending its NCAA basketball crown) and a "subversive" classmate secretly gave us "Laban" stickers, which we proudly displayed on our "Six Million Dollar Man" lunch boxes.

At that time, Manila stood still and all tellys were tuned in to Channel 4 to watch a rare live interview of Ninoy, who singlehandedly matched wits and openly traded barbs with Marcos propagandists like JV Cruz and Ronnie Nathanielsz (yup, the Sri Lankan smart aleck you see calling basketball games and boxing matches and writing sports columns for the Manila Standard Today). Laban's iconic 1978 campaign was capped with a Metro-wide "noise barrage" where everyone came out banging pots and pans in symbolic defiance of Marcos' strong-arm rule.

My generation was already in high school when the gunshot that reverberated around the world and changed the nation's history was fired on Aug 21, 1983 (a time when most members were not yet even part of their parents' consciousness).

Lagi rin kaming walang pasok noon because Mendiola became a battleground immediately after Ninoy was buried and rallies became an "in" thing before the bridge over the estero was named after Don Chino Roces.

When I was active with the CAS-SC, Mike Abasolo (of inboundpass fame) and I initiated an annual memorial week for Ninoy Aquino - the Great Bedan. We held the first one in November 1986 in time for Ninoy's birth anniversary and the following year -- the SC under now Atty Boks Lauron -- we did it in August.

Fr. Tarsi (then HS principal) and Fr Paul de Vera allowed us to take Ninoy's bronze bust from the HS library and put it on display at the mini memorial set up at the main driveway. We were told it was the first time that the bust was allowed out of the library named after the hero who is a member of HS Class 1948.

The late Atty Juan Cabrieto, then registrar, opened San Beda's archives and allowed us to reproduce Ninoy's school records. We invited Ninoy's siblings -- Butz Aquino and Mila Aquino Albert -- to come over and meet Ninoy's "present" generation of Bedan brothers. We held extemporaneous speaking and art contests, and a host of other activities.

The black spot then was somebody stole the yellow "Ninoy" banner which our predecessors in the SC had used during the pre-EDSA 86 anti-Marcos demonstrations.

I wonder if San Beda continues to have Ninoy-related activities. After all, we're the only school that could rightfully claim him as a full-fledged alumnus.


The Ninoy Aquino Foundation is launching an "I Am Ninoy" campaign...addressed to the youth... here's Ichu Villanueva account on how the project goes.

For this alone, there is a reason for me to sometimes drop red and turn yellow.

I am Ninoy
By Marichu A. Villanueva
Monday, August 18, 2008 (Philippine Star)

She may be in the thick of battling the most serious threat to her life but former President Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino has not allowed it to slow her down from her latest pet project for the Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. Foundation.

Currently undergoing chemotherapy for her colon cancer, Mrs.Aquino has actively kept running the affairs of the Foundation as its founding chairperson.

The Foundation, named after her slain husband, is in the middle of preparations for the 25th death anniversary of the late Senator who was assassinated on Aug.21,1983.

The slay of the late Sen.Aquino is considered as the turning point in the hard-fought battle of Filipino leaders like him to regain our country?s democracy from the shackles of two decade-long of martial rule imposed by the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino's widow subsequently became the country's first woman President after the February 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. And as they say, the rest is history.

But 25 years later, the sacrifice of the slain Senator to restore our country's democratic institutions seemed to have been relegated to annual commemoration of his death anniversary as Ninoy Aquino Day officially declared as a national holiday.

In line, though, with the "holiday economics" policy of the government, we just had a long weekend because this nationwide holiday was moved today.

Mrs.Aquino, now 75, in one of her rare media interviews, expressed her sentiments about how she would like the country's younger generation to remember the heroism of Ninoy.

"I hope our fellow Filipinos, especially the young, will continue to appreciate how much Ninoy suffered for our country. I hope they will ask themselves what they offer, too, to help this country move forward. Ninoy showed the way. I hope they will be inspired by him," Mrs.Aquino was quoted as saying in People Asia Magazine in its July 2008 edition.

It is in this light that the prime movers behind the latest project of the Foundation apparently came up with such a catchy slogan "I am Ninoy."

This project is spearheaded by businessman, Rafael "Rafa" C. Lopa. The 45-year old nephew of Mrs.Aquino is the executive director of the Foundation.

The Foundation will formally launch the "I am Ninoy" campaign this Thursday in a press conference after the Holy Mass for the 25th death anniversary of the late Senator to be held at the Don Bosco Chapel in Makati City.

"My auntie Cory will just attend the Mass but she will not join us in the press conference," Rafa told me over the weekend.

At the launching of the "I am Ninoy" campaign, Rafa disclosed the Foundation will present the "brand partners" that will carry this slogan and the figure of eyeglasses of Ninoy in their signature T-shirt and other apparel products.

Of course, most of these apparels would come in yellow color associated with Mrs.Aquino.

The "brand partners" include such popular youth-oriented apparel-makers like Bench, Penshoppe, Team Manila, and Analog Soul. Under their partnership agreement with the Foundation, a certain percentage of every product of "I am Ninoy" sold will be donated to their chosen charitable institution.

The "I am Ninoy" campaign is actually geared to re-introduce to the young generation of Filipinos the ideals of democracy that the late Senator stood for and died for.

"The Filipinos are worth dying for," was the blurb made famous by Ninoy in the face of death.

The idea of this national campaign is to impress upon the Filipino youth his heroism. But they need not die, too, to become heroes in their own rights.

"We?re talking about a kind of dying of our old selves, our old habits and find a new and better way of doing things that will improve our country for the better," Rafa pointed out.

"We bring Ninoy into the picture and hopefully other people will be inspired to do what he has done for our country without really having to die like him," he quipped.

Another version of the "I am Ninoy" project will be launched in November on the birth anniversary of the late Senator when he would have turned 76 years old. Rafa said he is still working out the details of this project with PLDT, Smart and Globe Telecom as sponsors.

Picture credits: wikimedia, flickr,

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