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Ninoy Aquino Day (Assassination video here)

The Filipino is Worth Dying For 2Ninoy Aquino Day is a national non-working holiday in the Philippines observed annually on August 21, commemorating the anniversary of the 1983 assassination of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.. He was the husband of Corazon Cojunagco Aquino, who was later to become Philippine President; both are treated as two of the heroes of democracy in the country. His assassination led to the downfall of the Dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos on February 25, 1986, through the People Power Revolution.

Unlike other dates reserved for national heroes of the Philippines (like Bonifacio Day, Rizal Day, Araw ng Kagitingan, and National Heroes Day), the date is not a “regular holiday” but only a “non-working holiday”. (Wikipedia)


Ninoy 2Aquino was a well-known opposition figure and critic of the then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Due to his beliefs, he was later imprisoned for about eight years after martial law was declared in the country. Even in his imprisonment, he sought a parliamentary seat for Metro Manila in the Interim Batasang Pambansa, under the banner of the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN). He eventually led in the opinion polls and was initially leading the electoral count but eventually lost to the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) slate led by First Lady Imelda Marcos. Aquino remained in prison but continued to fight for democracy in the country and against the oppression of the Filipino people. After suffering from a heart attack in March 1980, he and his family moved to the United States for medical treatment, eventually leading to his self-imposed exile for about three years. There, he continued his advocacy by giving speeches to the Filipino-American communities.[1] Later, he planned to return to the islands to challenge Marcos for the parliamentary elections in 1984. Though some did not feel this was a good idea, he still did so in 1983. Ninoy on Tarmac 21 Aug 83Upon returning to the Philippines at the Manila International Airport (now renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport in his honor), he was shot and died on August 21, 1983 as he was escorted off an airplane by security personnel. This led to several protests at his funeral that sparked snap presidential elections in 1986, which led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution, catapulting his wife, Cory Aquino, to the presidency.

Actual Video of Aquino’s assassination

    Ninoy's wake


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Remembering Ninoy Aquino

When Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. died 28 years ago, he showed how dying for the love of country is never a defeat but a glorious victory. He believed that in an endeavor to restore democracy in the Philippine government, one cannot let his fear of getting killed lead him towards inaction.

Because of his family’s political background, entering politics came early for Ninoy. In 1967, he became the youngest senator and the only candidate of the Liberal Party to make it to senate. He was then considered by President Ferdinand Marcos and his allies as their greatest threat, but unfortunately for them, Ninoy was not intimated by their number. He bravely exposed the anomalies carried out by the administration and warned the public of Marcos’ corrupt plans during his stay in office.

Not long after, Martial Law was declared in the country and Ninoy was one of the first arrested. As the opposition leader against Marcos, he was imprisoned for false charges of murder, illegal possession of firearms, and explicit subversion. Even under detention, Ninoy continued his plea for Marcos to step down and for a peaceful regime to take over. After seven years behind bars, however, Ninoy experienced heart attacks and was allowed by the Marcoses to have medical treatments abroad under conditions that he would return and would not speak against the Marcos regime during his stay in the United States.

In 1983, Ninoy decided to come back to the Philippines to talk to Marcos regarding the worsening political situation of the country. He knew very well that his return posed several dangers but he was willing to take the risk for the sake of his fellowmen. Despite threats from Marcos because of his continuous political involvement, Ninoy was ready to face the consequences of his actions in the struggle to attain freedom once again.

Ninoy’s assassination right after stepping down from the plane proved how Marcos was afraid of being conquered by the enemy and of losing the power he held over the entire land. It was a clear proof of injustice showing that fighting for change always comes with a cost. Having fought for his principles until the very end, Ninoy is indeed a martyr in the truest sense of the word.

Had he not been assassinated, Ninoy could have made a good president – a leader who puts his people before anything else and acts upon the boundaries of justice. Surveys during his time showed that Filipinos actually wanted Ninoy for president after Marcos’ term ended. However, every politician has his own detractors and Ninoy was no exception. Even with his clean intentions, many saw him as a representative of the familial elites who are still dominating Philippine politics today. Whether that was the case, it still cannot be denied that his assassination led to the fall of a dictator who abused the rights of the Filipino people.

As the country celebrates Ninoy Aquino Day, may we not only consider it as another holiday but instead honor Ninoy’s heroic deeds as one of the country’s most influential leaders. Especially now that our new president is his very own son, it is crucial to look back on the past and understand what it really means to be a good example. President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, albeit having been in office for only more than a year now, must already remember that family ties will only take him so far and thus he should not rely too much on both his parents’ legacy.

Indeed, the Filipinos are worth dying for in the same way that they are worth living for. At the end of the day, we all point back to Ninoy’s heroism for starting change in the country and putting the Philippine government back to a democratic state. It might have been through rough roads over the recent years, but as long as you remain our hero, we will continue working together for the betterment of the country. You were, you are, and will always be the Filipinos’ inspiration to fight and never stop fighting.

By Cy Yambao
updated for 2011

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Events, News, Issues & Politics, People


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