I was 13 and had just came back from a day of playing ball with some friends in the neighborhood basketball court when I saw my Lolo and Lola huddled with serious looks on their faces around the old Sony, listening intently to the commentator’s pronouncements and unmindful of everything around them.
After the radio announcement, my Lolo could only muttered in his soft voice that, “Marcos is finished.”
The assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. or Ninoy on August 21, 1983 further stirred my interest in Philippine politics. I decided to know him better and managed to learn more about him-- from the stories and anecdotes passed on by people who were old enough to remember him to the old issues of the Philippine Free Press and other magazines in our possessions at that time.
My uncle who was in the United States would send us photocopies of the San Jose Mercury News and the New York Times as well as betamax tapes of news about the assassination from foreign networks that were not available in the Philippines due to the strict censorship in the country.
When the mosquito press came out, I devoured Malaya and Mr. & Ms. from cover to cover aside from the daily doses of the government- controlled publications like the Bulletin and Daily Express. I also learned in the process that the “Crying Lady” Rebecca Quijano who claimed to have witnessed Ninoy Aquino’s assassination by his soldier- escorts hailed from the neighboring town of Malinao and was my mother’s student at the Saint Agnes Academy in Legaspi City years earlier.
I was well- versed and schooled in politics early in life since I grew up in a political family what with my grandfather having been mayor of the town in the mid- 50’s and one of the leaders of Bicol Saro, the opposition group in the Bicol Region against the Marcos dictatorship. My grandfather was a soft- spoken man and a well- respected political leader because of his principles when politics is not as dirty and shameless as today.
So my taking interest in politics is like fish to water. I was at my grandfather’s side in meetings and other activities during those chaotic days when they were consolidating the opposition in the town and the province. I acted as his errand boy, avid listener and confidante.
I was a witness during the times when he and some well- meaning friends fought the lonely battles against the dictatorship. I was there when he endured the bitter taste of defeat and experienced the sweet taste of victory during that dark period in our nation’s history.
It was 25 long years now and yet I can recall vividly the event that unfurled that fateful day with ease. I can always picture the scene, a scene that although buried in the deep recesses of my mind can be summoned back in an instant. It was one of those scenes that probably will never be erased from one’s memory.
A lot of things have occured since Ninoy's death at the hands of his assassins and we have seen a bevy of characters parade and shamelessly strut their wares right under our noses and are largely responsible for the current state that the Philippines is in--
-rotten, corrupt, unstable and in shambles.
Nowadays, we can only shake our heads as we grapple to find the answer to the question on whether Ninoy is still relevant or not.
The Filipino is worth dying for?
Here's more from the Probe Team--
Benigno S. Aquino Jr, Cory Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Ninoy, Philippine History, Philippine Politics