A FESTIVE DAY. Yellow banners fly along Roxas Boulevard with the image of Benigno Ninoy Aquino Jr. and the words: Filipinos are worth dying for. Today, we remember that day when opposition leader Ninoy Aquino’s mission of coming home to lead a non-violent reconciliation for justice and freedom, which was greatly suppressed during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos was abruptly aborted.
The day was August 21, 1983. With an illegal passport secured under the name of Marcial Bonifacio –first word was from martial law and second word for Fort Bonifacio, where he was detained for nearly eight years and armed with a bullet-proof vest under a white suit, Ninoy Aquino boarded a China Airlines in Taipe on a final leg of his flight home to the Philippines after a three year exile in Boston.
AQUINO ASSASSINATION. Francisco Tatad described that a crowd of thousands, led by his mother Doña Aurora and his boyhood friend and political kindred Salvador Laurel, waited in Manila International Airport to give him a hero’s welcome. But as his plane reached the terminal, a military boarding party appeared and led him out through a side door leading to the ground. Seconds later shots rang out.
The initial shot was followed by more shots later. A short video clip from a Japanese television crew has captured the event which concluded showing a dead Ninoy lying face down on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport after the shooting.
The news block out by government controlled media left little information of the murder. But yet a crowd of thousands trooped in the house of the Aquinos at Times Street and later to Santo Domingo Church to pay their respects to the slain opposition leader.
Former Senator Vicente Paterno explains, the lack of mention in the radio, when the world press was full of the news of what had happened. To me, this was a big reason why Metro Manila turned out in full force. They were being denied of the news, so they went to see it for themselves. They were witnesses. It was not being reported to them. They were seeing it and they were reinforcing one another in their comments. They felt outrage, indignation, and anger.
LOOKING BACK. Many Filipinos of that time lamented on Ninoy’s assassination. According to the late journalist Teddy Benigno the people’s reaction was a cry of lament, a cry of sadness. It was a cry of anger and it was a cry of outrage; it was a cry of being orphaned. It was a cry of distress. It was also a cry of courage. And Ninoy’s death did the trick. They gained the courage to face the future they were not sure of.
My mother has told me that the last and closest she was with Ninoy was during her teens, when she interviewed him about the Huk insurgents while Ninoy was then serving as governor of their hometown in Tarlac. She told me that she wept upon learning that Ninoy was shot. My mother like those Filipinos then felt that a good man was murdered fighting for their sake.
EPILOGUE: WHO MURDERED NINOY AQUINO? I have no recollection of what happened on that fateful day. What I can remember in my growing up years is that during this time of year, that same less than a minute clip that was filmed by the Japanese crew of the Ninoy’s assassination was repeatedly shown on television in between commercials.
Growing up having that short and unconcluded version of Ninoy’s death has left me this question to this day –Who murdered Ninoy Aquino?
Reference: An Eyewitness History: People Power