MANILA — In death and for all eternity, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will be reunited with his parents as he is laid to rest Saturday at the final resting place of the Philippine democracy icons in Parañaque City.
The Filipino nation will bid their final goodbye to the 15th Philippine president on Saturday in what is expected to be a muted event, rid of the pomp and regal trappings of a former head of state’s burial.
Such was last seen in the much protested hero’s burial accorded— albeit with secrecy— to late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the very strongman Aquino’s parents had fought.
Marcos was implicated in the 1983 assassination of Aquino’s father Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Three years later, his mother Corazon would be swept to power by popular clamor, her rise to the presidency toppling the Marcos dictatorship and restoring democracy in the Philippines.
Aquino, 61, will be laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, at the same plot where lay his parents in plain white tombs.
The day of his inurnment will begin at the Church of the Gesu at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, his alma mater, where the urn bearing his ashes was brought Friday for a day-long public viewing. His remains had been cremated hours after his death on Thursday.
A funeral mass, to be presided by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and other priests, will be held at 10 a.m., after which a funeral convoy will proceed to the Manila Memorial Park.
In a bulletin on the inurnment, the Aquino family said “those who wish to pay their final respects along the route of the convoy are asked to observe proper health protocols.” The convoy will pass through C5 and the South Luzon Expressway.
The public will be allowed to pay their respects to Aquino at his final resting place starting 3 p.m., the Ateneo said in a separate statement.
The burial of Aquino’s mother Corazon in 2009 had drawn tens of thousands of Filipinos along a similar funeral route almost 12 years ago, the convoy slowed by the throng of supporters that lined the way.
Ultimately, the passing of Cory Aquino, a beloved leader, prompted a groundswell of support for her only son to run for President. The then-senator won the 2010 elections and became the second Aquino to helm Malacañang.
Just five years since the end of his term, Aquino passed away in his sleep on Thursday morning, his demise a shock to the nation who never even knew he was ill.
He kept mostly silent about state affairs, choosing a private life as a citizen despite recurring criticism of his administration by the current leadership.
His family said he died of renal failure due to diabetes. His friends said Aquino was preparing for a kidney transplant and had undergone dialysis and angioplasty for the procedure.
His former internal revenue commissioner, Kim Henares, said Aquino was hesitant to get a transplant as he felt it would be stealing someone else’s life. The transplant never happened as his death came too soon.
Aquino was a smoker and also suffered from hypertension. In 2019, he had pneumonia and was hospitalized several times before his death.
Aquino received military honors across camps around the country on Friday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
Information from the Ateneo and the Aquino family did not indicate whether the military would be involved at the inurnment rites Saturday.
“We give our former President and Commander-in-Chief our snappiest salute and our pledge to continue to perform our mandate. The banner of his legacy will continue to fly on the hallowed grounds of our camps anywhere in the country,” said AFP Chief of Staff General Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.
Under the Aquino administration, the Philippines saw economic growth, the final peace agreement between government and the formerly secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a campaign against corruption in government, infrastructure programs, the implementation of the K-12 Basic Education program, and the passage of landmark legislation such as the reproductive health law, the military modernization act, and the martial law victims' reparation act, among others.
It was under his leadership that the Philippines launched arbitral proceedings against China over incursions in the West Philippine Sea, which bore fruit in July 2016, under the incumbent.
His tenure in the Palace also saw its share of lowlights and controversies, such as the 2010 Quirino bus hostage crisis, which spawned a diplomatic crisis with Hong Kong, the 2014 Supreme Court ruling that shot down his Disbursement Acceleration Program, and the 2015 botched raid that left 44 police commandos dead in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
As he had rare public appearances after his term, it has been years since Aquino last addressed the Filipino public, much less say his farewell, even an unwitting one.
But in his State of the Nation Address in July 2014, he may have spoken something akin.
"At sasabihin ko po sa inyo, mata sa mata, sa lahat po ng inabot natin, ako po’y masasabing kontento na ako. Kontento na po ako dahil panatag ang kalooban ko, na kung ako po’y mawala na dito, marami po ang magpapatuloy ng ating tinahak na. Baka iyon lang po talaga ang papel ko–umpisahan ito.”
(And I will tell you, eye to eye, for all we've endured, I could say I am content. I am content because I am at peace that when it's time for me to leave, many will continue on the path that I started. Perhaps that was my purpose here— to start it all.)