MANILA - "The Filipino is worth fighting for."
With these words, President Aquino defended his administration's performance in the past four years even as he is beset by lower trust ratings and controversy over his handling of an unconstitutional economic stimulus program.
For his 5th State of the Nation Address, Aquino echoed the words of his famous father, the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., who was killed at the country's main airport fighting the Marcos dictatorship.
"Patutunayan natin na the Filipino is worth dying for. The Filipino is worth living for. At idagdag ko naman po: the Filipino is definitely worth fighting for," he said.
Aquino became emotional and his voice wavered as he reminded the public of how he decided to run for the presidency after his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, died in 2009 after a bout with cancer.
The late Mrs. Aquino took power in 1986 after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.
"Kung tinalikuran ko ang pagkakataon, parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang aking ama't ina at ang lahat ng kanilang inalay para sa atin. Hindi po mangyayari iyon," he said.
He said he took up the challenge of the presidency because turning his back would mean prolonging the agony of the Filipino people.
He said the reforms he had instituted would become permanent with the help of God and as long as the Filipino people continue to unite.
Aquino reminded the public that he was nearly killed in a coup attempt during his mother's presidency in August 1987. At least one of the bullets in that coup attempt remain lodged in his neck.
"Pangalawang buhay ko na po ito," he said.
He said that when the time comes that his "second life" is over, he will be able to say that he is "content with what he has achieved."
He said he is content because there are many people who will continue reforms, including political and religious leaders, microfinance lenders, soldiers and those who help the informal sector.
"Boss, kayo ang gumawa ng transpormasyong ating tinatamasa. Kayo ang susi ng pagpapatuloy ng lahat ng positibong pagbabagong naabot natin. Buong-buo ang tiwala ko: nasa eksena man ako o wala, tutungo ang Pilipino sa tama niyang kalagyan," he said.