MANILA (UPDATE) — Filipinos must honor the sacrifice that the family of slain martial law fighter Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. made for the country, Vice President Leni Robredo said as the nation marked his 38th death anniversary.
It is not just like any other year that the late senator's death is being remembered as his namesake son, former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, just passed away less than 2 months ago, Robredo noted.
The Vice President, who had worked with Aquino in the opposition Liberal Party, said there is a certain sadness on this year's Ninoy Aquino Day commemoration in light of the younger Aquino's passing.
"Ngayong araw, ginugunita natin ang ikatatlumpu’t walong anibersaryo ng pagkamatay ni Ninoy Aquino. May dagdag na kalungkutan ang paggunita natin ngayong taon, dala ng pagpanaw ng anak niyang si PNoy nitong nagdaang Hunyo lang," Robredo said in a statement.
(Today, we mark the 38th death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino. There's an added sadness in this year's commemoration because of the death of his son PNoy just this June.)
"Kasama si Pangulong Cory, isang mag-anak silang nagpamalas ng kabayanihan at pagmamahal sa bayan. Binibigyang-pugay natin ngayon ang tapang ni Ninoy nang pinili niyang talikuran ang pansariling kaginhawahan upang ialay ang kanyang buhay sa ngalan ng ating kalayaan. Sakripisyo itong bumago sa takbo ng ating kasaysayan," she said.
(Along with President Cory, their family showed heroism and love for country. We honor the courage of Ninoy when he chose to turn his back to personal convenience to lay his life for our freedom. This is a sacrifice that changed the course of our history.)
Robredo said it is now upon Filipinos to sustain the fruits of their sacrifice.
"Ang hamon sa atin ngayon: Siguruhin na mananatiling buhay ang bunga ng sakripisyong ito. Mula sa pagharap sa mga hamon ng pandemya, hanggang sa paninindigan para sa ating mga karapatan, sa bawat pagkakataon, nawa'y ipakita nating sulit na sulit ang sakripisyo ni Ninoy para sa Pilipino," Robredo said.
(The challenge for now is this: to keep the outcome of their sacrifices alive. From facing the challenge of this pandemic to taking a stand for our rights, in every instance, may we prove that Ninoy's sacrifice for the Filipino was worth it.)
Ninoy Aquino, a staunch critic of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated at the Manila airport now in his name upon landing from self-exile in the United States exactly 38 years ago today.
His slay led to a clamor for the restoration of democracy, culminating in the 1986 People Power revolution, which saw the rise of his wife Corazon Aquino to becoming the country's first female president.
After decades of service to the country, the revered leader passed away due to cancer on August 1, 2009, just 20 days before Ninoy Aquino Day.
On June 24 this year, the Aquinos' only son Noynoy, who rose to the Presidency in 2010 in the wake of his mother's death, died of renal disease secondary to diabetes just five years after the end of his term.
The three Aquinos share their final resting place at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.
"Si Ninoy, nanindigan na the Filipino is worth dying for; si President Cory, na the Filipino is worth living for; kay PNoy, the Filipino is worth fighting for," Robredo said.
(Ninoy said the Filipino is worth dying for; for President Cory, the Filipino is worth living for; and for PNoy, the Filipino is worth fighting for.)
Robredo said the three Aquinos lived with the same goal: to see Filipinos in prosperity, living in a society that is humane and fair, and where there is respect for the rights and dignity of everyone.
She expressed hopes that Filipinos would see their aspirations to fruition.
"In Ninoy's death, President Cory's life, and PNoy's fight along the straight and righteous path, they collectively pursued this vision; they showed what we all know to be the truth: That the Filipino is worth dreaming for," she said.
'NINOY'S SPEECHES HAVE A LASTING IMPACT'
Former Senator Bam Aquino, nephew to the late senator, urged the public to remember the sacrifices of his late uncle. .
Bam recounted the "courage" and valor of his late uncle, and said his speeches still leave a lasting impact up to this day, even as different events in history unfold.
"'Yung speeches ni Tito Ninoy parang iba rin yung dating in 2021 maybe compared to 5 or 10 years ago. Kadalasan pinaguusapan nya yung ngangailangan ng katapangan yung Pilipino para talagang lahat tayo maging pinuno. Lahattayo makilahok dito sa proseso ng pagbabalik ng demokrasya sa ating bansa. Siyempre binigkas nya yan in the 80’s but in many ways relevant pa rin sya ngayon. Ipinaglaban nya yung napakagrabeng korapsyon noong panahong bago mag-martial law. Ngayon alam naman natin na grabe ang korapsyon sa ating bansa so marami sa ipinaglalaban nya very relevant pa rin today," he said, in wake of the online screening of a documentary titled “Last Journey of Ninoy” on Facebook.
(Uncle Ninoy's speeches had a different impact in 2021 compared to 5 or 10 years ago. We have to take part in reclaiming democracy in the country. Of course, this was said in the 80s but in many ways it's still relevant up to now. He fought against the rampant corruption before Martial Law. Now we know how bad the corruption is in the country so a lot of what he fought for is still relevant today.)
In the documentary, 500 organizations and individuals paid tribute to the late senator.
Bam hopes that viewers of the documentary can remind Filipinos of what happened in the past, in the launching of the documentary, and urged the public to use this as a voice of reason during the 2022 polls.
"Palagay ko, malapit na rin ang eleksyon sa ating bansa, maganda na naalala natin na may mga taong ganyan sa ating kasaysayan. Of course yung inspirasyon nya pagaktapos sya pinatay, pinaslang nakita natin na lumabas uli yung katapangan ng Pilipino, naghangad ng mas magandang kinabukasan para sa ating bansa. In many ways hopefully mainspire tayo uli na magkaroon ng tapang, mainspire uli tayo na magkaisa at siguro mas mahalaga maalala natin itong nangyari sa ating kasaysayan kasi sa totoo lang tuloy-tuloy pa rin yung pagbabago ng ating kasaysayan," he said.
(Elections are fast approaching and it's nice that we remember that there are people like that in society. When he (Ninoy) died we witnessed Filipinos building up courage to speak up and strive for a greater future in the country. In many ways hopefully we be inspired to build courage and unite and recall this moment in history as history continues to unfold.)
Bam said it was important for the youth to remember the legacy of the late senator.
The Manila International Airport Authority also offered flowers at the late senator's marker in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport this Saturday. Traditionally, Aquino's kin attends the flower offering but due to the pandemic they decided to forego attending to it physically.
"Usually meron activities yan sa airport, may wreath laying sa lugar kung saan sya nabaril, meron misa sa manila memorial but siempre dahil naka-lockdwon tayo o naka-MECQ, in particular today, nakansela na yung physical events," Aquino said.
(We usually have activities in the airport such as wreath laying. We also have a mass but of course during the lockdown, particularly now that we're under MECQ, physical events are cancelled.)
Other groups such as the Chino Roces Foundation, the Ninoy Aquino Movement and Earthsavers Foundation also offered flowers and mounted a program on Aquino's monument in the airport.
-- With a report from Wheng Hidalgo, ABS-CBN News