The Aquino Legacy

There are only very few Filipinos whose spirits do not feel a lift when the subject of Ninoy and Cory Aquino comes into discussion. If there was ever a couple most loved in Philippine History, it would be this yellow-bearing, unassuming yet very charismatic couple.

The Aquino legacy began with Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, most visible and influential at the peak of ex-President Ferdinand Marcos’ era of dictatorship and tyranny.

I was too young to remember what life in the Philippines was like at this time. My brother and I are children born in the peak of Martial Law. Apart from witnessing (although never really comprehending) heated discussions over the dinner table as our parents (who were pro-Aquino) would launch into verbal combat with my Grandfather (a die-hard Marcos loyalist), my concept of Martial Law and living under a dictator’s rule was much like a baby trying to comprehend the funny sounds adults make when ooooh-ing and aaaaahh-ing over the crib.

What I do clearly remember is that fateful day on the 21st of August, 1983. The day when Ninoy Aquino, after being exiled from the Philippines for many years, finally returned home to continue challenging the tyrannical rule of President Marcos.

We already know what happens on this day. As he alights from the plane, he gets shot and dies on the spot — there, on the tarmac of what is now known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Several days later, millions of Filipinos gather on the streets to mourn and bury their hero. I remember this – mom was watching this on TV. She was very sad. If I recall correctly, she was on the phone with my maternal grandmother and they were together mourning the death of Ninoy Aquino.

The next big Chapter of the Aquino saga came a few years later. I was 10 years old — still ignorant and clueless about the ongoings of a country slowly dying under the weight of a relentless dictator. And yet, my memories of this time are just a little bit clearer.

The events that led up to the final toppling of the Dictator on February 25, 1986 paralleled some little events here and there that were happening in our own household. I remember mom and dad suddenly shuffling me and kuya home on the night of February 22 (that was a Sunday… we usually spent weekends with my maternal Grandparents in Paranaque).

You see, my childhood home (and my paternal grandparents’ ancestral home) is located in San Juan. It’s 5 minutes away from EDSA-Ortigas, 10 minutes away from Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. I still wonder to this day why instead of leaving us safely tucked away far from where all the happenings were, mom and dad brought us closer to the center of action.

But I digress. That night, after seeing us safely tucked away in our beds, mom and dad (with my uncle) left the house and didn’t return til the following day. They came home just to get bathed, dress up, eat, and then they left again. This went on for the next two days.

And on the third day, mom and dad went home, exhausted but happy and jubilant. They dressed my brother and I in yellow clothes, and took us to EDSA where millions of yellow-bearing Filipinos were singing, dancing and crying with joy. Marcos was gone. Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino was finally the rightful President of the Philippines, and she has just given us back the freedom that Marcos took from everyone years ago. Democracy was back.

Two years ago (August 2008) we commemorated the 25th Death Anniversary of Ninoy. And a year later (August 2009), we mourned the Death of his widow, Cory.

Apart from being such strong historical figures in our country, these 2 are also special to me on a personal level. On his 25th Death Anniversary, I worked on a youth-driven advocacy program to help advocate the values that Ninoy lived by among the youth of today. His values of courage, integrity, honesty and resilience.

Through this campaign, I had been able to get close to some members of the family. We would be invited to watch plays, read scripts, and meet with other interest groups who wanted to sign in to this advocacy. We even had long discussions about the current political scenario. About GMA. Sometimes we would share opposing views. But of course, since they were still my Clients, I couldn’t stray too far and reveal some of my more intense points of view.

I take pride in fact in being able to say that at one point of my life, I met Cory Aquino face to face. I didn’t get to shake her hands – since she was battling Cancer, she needed to exercise caution when meeting with people who’ve been outdoors. But we did take a picture with  her for posterity’s sake. I’ve got it safely stored among my most valued possessions.

On her death on August 2nd, 2009, I had the privilege of attending one of her funeral masses.

I will never forget too the sentiments I had when I met Cory face to face. She is an awe-inspiring woman. She is… was… a very strong woman. Not loud, not abrasive, not rough. But strong, in her own quiet, resilient way. She could speak volumes in spite of her mild-mannered bearing. She was firm, decisive and authoritative…. and yet, infinitely gentle.  How one woman could possess that contrast of qualities is amazing.

That’s my memory of Cory: a strong, capable, intelligent and trustworthy woman with unparalleled integrity. The world lost a great woman upon her death. But it was time for her to rejoin her love, the man whose ideals she did not allow to die along with him.

In their respective time frames, Ninoy and Cory were heroes in their own right.

Ninoy’s persistent fight from Senate, to his squalid prison cell, to his hospital bed and his brief sojourn into family life as an exile in Boston – he never stopped speaking up against the ills of the Marcos regime. All this at the cost of his own life. He fought til his last breath, and spurred a people starving for a hero into action.

And to continue his fight, his widow. The one who united a people into a peaceful revolution that would once and for all overthrow a dictatorship and restore democracy to a nation down on its knees.

The freedom that we enjoy today we can attribute largely to the Ninoy and Cory Aquino legacy. And while there’s so much more progress to achieve and societal ills to battle, at their time, they did what they needed to do, and did it well.

With the death of this enigmatic, charismatic couple comes the new generation of Aquinos to leave their mark in Philippine History.

My generation of Aquinos.

Where do we begin?

Let me see… should I start with the controversial showbiz sensation that is Kris Aquino? TV host, actress, daughter of Ninoy and Cory, wife of basketball star James Yap, sister of Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. Well, that’s not even worth writing a long paragraph about.

So I’ll move on to current Presidential candidate, Noynoy Aquino. Leader of the Liberal Party. Senator for several terms, but not clearly associated with the formulation or revision of any bills or legislatures. Known by many of his supporters as the only guy in the current Presidential roster who has a squeaky clean record.

I wager that his popularity now is brought about in many ways by the legacy left behind by his parents. Sure, he’s pretty well known, but truthfully his past record is unremarkable. Especially if you compare it against the history-forming efforts of his parents.

And it makes one wonder.

One would hope that the offspring of the famous couple would likewise carry the torch of his parents and truly make a difference.

But what does making a difference in this day and age really mean?

If it means speaking up against corruption and making a stand in cleaning the government of corrupt officials… and an economic policy that’s hinged on an idealistic and conservative belief system that’s more suited for times past… frankly, it feels to me no different from the outdated ideals preached by the Catholic Church that fail to contextualize religious edicts and sermons against real and present day scenarios and all the things that people face on a regular basis.

There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with forcing moral ascendancy. Who doesn’t admire people with values and morals?

But how much of a change will that create? The Philippines has continuously been sinking deeper and deeper in poverty year on year. Peace in Mindanao continues to be elusive. Literacy rate drops as the years go by. Health conditions and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate. How many more Administrations can we survive before we’re driven to the brink of desperation?

Many say they’re choosing to support and vote Noynoy in this coming Elections because among the candidates, he’s the only one who’s “clean”.

The trouble with people with a squeaky clean image is sometimes you wonder how far they’re willing to go to get their hands dirty. And do note: “dirty” doesn’t mean immoral or unlawful. Simply — making unpopular (sometimes controversial) decisions that often spell the difference between progress and regression.

Sure, I’d love to have a President who’s got his values screwed on right. But if it’s at the expense of the (potentially) controversial but necessary acts for the greater good of the country’s citizens, maybe I’ll just choose the candidate whose reputation may be questionable, but who will get the results we desperately need to rise above our problems.

At the end of this long monologue, I have no conclusions to draw. I have more questions than ever. As for Noynoy – if he becomes President, I wonder. What kind of legacy will this new Aquino leave behind?

Advertisements

5 Responses to The Aquino Legacy

  1. Pingback: One-Year Old « Loves Stories

  2. angasoko says:

    ganun pa rin. ang mga tao sa gobyerno ay nagpapalitan. sila pa ring mga mayayaman, mga elitistang businessman, at mga sakim. at mga mangmang na mga masa na bumoboto. walang pinag-iba.

  3. Pingback: Three Short Stories « Loves Stories

  4. Pingback: One-Year Old | A Wife in the City

  5. Pingback: Three Short Stories | A Wife in the City

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: