Die-hard supporters of Ninoy Aquino flock to his statue on Ayala Avenue in Makati to commemorate his 40th year death anniversary (Photo by Benjie Cuaresma/AI/MNM)
I WAS AT THE NEWSROOM of Tempo, a daily English tabloid published by a known Marcos crony Gen. Hans Menzi, when a reporter phoned in to report that former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was shot at the then Manila International Airport.
I remember our editors were in frenzy and hastily ordered us to go home early.
Walking towards Quiapo from our Intramuros office I noticed an overcast sky, as if an ominous sign of things to come that will shake the country.
I admit Ninoy Aquino was never my idol.
I’ve heard from the more seasoned journalists that he was fond of “chicks” after those Senate sessions.
For me, since Ninoy was a former reporter he’s just one of the boys who may have the gift of gab who hit the jackpot in politics.
But Ninoy’s brutal killing somehow jolted the Filipino people.
Even if he was a “burgis” and husband of haciendera Cory, he was able to capture the imagination of all classes in Philippine society.
Ninoy was the political Kris Aquino during his time.
He mercilessly lambasted his Upsilonian frat brod Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr. who had saved him from the firing squad after a military tribunal in November 1977 found Ninoy, together with then Lt. Victor Corpus who defected to the New People’s Army, and NPA founder Bernabe Buscayno alias “Kumander Dante” guilty for multiple murder and sedition.
But despite his vile tirades against the FM martial law regime, Ninoy was allowed to leave for the United States to undergo a coronary bypass surgery on recommendation of his doctors at the Philippine Heart Center where he was confined after suffering a heart attack in his prison cell in Fort Bonifacio.
Kahimyang.com quoted Ninoy as saying:
“No, if I cannot be operated in America, then bring me back to my cell, I told them (on May 6). The deputy minister of defense asked me: ‘Are you willing to write a letter to Marcos requesting to be brought to America?’ I said yes. And so, I wrote my letter Wednesday (May 7) to Mr. Marcos and made two covenants: that if I leave, I shall return, and two, that while in America, I should not speak out against his regime.
The next morning, May 8, the beautiful one (Imelda Marcos) ascended into my (hospital) suite. She talked to me … she was very nice. And then, all of a sudden, after one hour, she said, Would you like to go to America? Aba’y kako, sure. Sure! Oo, oo. Palayasin na niyo ‘ko, papuntahin niyo ako sa America. Sabi niya, there’s a plane leaving at 6 o’ clock. You can be in that plane. And so she ordered the foreign office to issue us passports. They called up the American embassy to get us the visas. At 2:30 in the afternoon, they brought me to my house …. They gave me 30 minutes to pack and take a shower. Then they brought me to the airport, put me in a 747, and out of the Philippines.”
But not after three years in the” land of milk and honey” when Ninoy Aquino came back home only to be felled by a single bullet that changed the course of history.
It was August 21, 1983.