How We Killed Ninoy


Title adopted from the ABS-CBN documentary, “Beyond Conspiracy”.

Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino 1932-1983
Ninoy Aquino 1932-1983

In other countries, the ’80s may be the decade techno music was born. The decade hip-hop became a formidable force in the music industry. The decade when Madonna’s “Material Girl” song became a hit. But for the Philippines, the ’80s was the decade for change.

The start of Ferdinand Marcos’ reign as President in the Philippines were great years for Filipinos. It was a time wherein the Philippines was one of the most industrialized nations in Asia, in the world even. While neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam were plagued by poverty, their people were dying of hunger. In the Philippines however, the people were spending their time in discos. Bathing themselves with luxuries. As time passed by however, we learned that life is really like a wheel. Sometimes you’re on top, and sometimes you’re at the bottom. Life got harder as time passed by. This “observation” made the Filipinos realize that it was time for change.

As time passed by, less students frequented bars and casinos and more, instead, flocked to the streets to hold rallies and demonstrations. The Filipino youth became political-minded. Politics was the new “in-thing” during those times. And if you couldn’t handle politics then you weren’t “cool”. Very opposite from today’s youth. Rallies and demonstrations were here and there, but none of those seemed to work. The strongman’s regime and his cronies always got the upper hand of the opposition. Demonstrators were getting tired of being under the sun all day, and soon it wasn’t only their political-mindedness that disintegrated, no, t was also their patriotism. Those faces that were common in the streets found themselves boarding a plane, on their way to more industrialized countries like the United States and countries in Europe. These were the people who didn’t mean to enter the world of politics in the first place, they were just motivated by time. Those who really cared for the country stayed and defied Marcos’ “no one goes against me” policy. Most of them ended up being tortured and found in trash cans and empty allies. Of course the judicial system was controlled by the government then so almost none of them got the justice they should have had. Most cases were blamed on communists and leftists.

Manila Bulletin Headline on Aquino's assassination
Manila Bulletin Headline on Aquino

Clearly, the situation of the nation was a turmoil. The constitution was a joke, assets were being rewarded to Marcos’ friends the same way they were rewarded to players in the board game “Monopoly”. The opposition wasn’t powerful enough to stop this disaster, they were divided. Isolated. Weak. They needed to find a leader to guide them. At that time the ones they called “leaders” were just sore losers who lost their positions to administration candidates. They weren’t dedicated. They had no stand. There were, however, better candidates to run the opposition. But all of them were too scared to go against a dictator. One however, made a difference, Ninoy Aquino.

Aquino was first arrested in 1975 for the crime of “illegal possession of weapons and explosives”. He was later sentenced to capital punishment by a firing squad, but Marcos ever the strategist realized that by doing so Aquino would have a “Martyr” image. Marcos then sent Aquino in exile in the United States. In the US, Aquino lived a peaceful life, a prosperous one. Marcos made sure he enjoyed living there with his family, so he would have no basis of returning to the Philippines. But Aquino was dedicated to his people, he was willing to throw all that prosperity away for the sake of the people he had left behind in the Philippines. He wanted to get back to them, to help them, even if it meant risking his own life.

And as we all know today, the threats were real. Aquino was shot. He was killed by a weapon we made ourselves, a weapon we perfected to use-our behavior to sit back down after we stand up. We realized the situation at one point, we saw the cruelties and the atrocities of the Marcos regime but we closed back our eyes and we pretended as if nothing was happening. Would Aquino be assassinated if we got rid of Marcos in the first place? And so numerous memorable events in our nation’s history unfolded. Events which include the eventual resignation of Marcos. Yes we did stand up in the end, but only when we really needed to. After the deaths of thousands.

Philippine Daily Inquirer Headline, the Filipinos' prayers were answered
Philippine Daily Inquirer Headline, the Filipinos

We all have different theories as to who killed Ninoy: Galman, the military, the communists. But technically speaking it was we Filipinos who refused to fight back. It was our weaknesses that killed Ninoy, and almost killed our country in the process. Today, we have our own “Ninoy-type situations”. There are those of us who have seen but refuse to acknowledge. We go into a state of denial, forcing ourselves that nothing ever happened. Let us not make the same mistake as before. Stand up, before it is too late.

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