Help sought for photojournalist who took iconic Ninoy Aquino assassination photo

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2021 03:45 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2021 03:30 PM

RIGHT: Veteran journalist Recto Mercene. LEFT: A portion of the iconic shot that Mercene took at the Manila International Airport's tarmac in 1983 showing Ninoy Aquino, Jr.'s death. Photo courtesy of Recto Mercene.
RIGHT: Veteran journalist Recto Mercene. LEFT: A portion of the iconic shot that Mercene took at the Manila International Airport's tarmac in 1983 showing Ninoy Aquino, Jr.'s death. Photo courtesy of Recto Mercene.

MANILA (UPDATE) - Veteran photojournalist and writer Recto Mercene, who shot the iconic photo after the assassination of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. at the Manila International Airport's tarmac in 1983, is need of financial help after suffering from a fall, his family said on Friday. 

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Mercene's daughter, Danica, said the 77-year-old is currently stable but weak. 

Her father is admitted at the Asian Hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa since Sept. 7. They are still awaiting for the results of his tests, she said.

"Okay naman siya, he is stable dito sa hospital. Generally, he is doing okay. Pero ayun, medyo mahina siya... Years ago, naoperahan na siya sa ulo. Pina-check din namin yun ngayon," Danica explained in a phone call, noting that her father does not have insurance. 

(He is weak. Years ago he was operated in the head, so we are having it checked)
 

 

Doctors found bleeding in his brain, she said. The patient also has comorbidities like diabetes, asthma, and also previously underwent brain surgery. 

He also had a heart bypass. Doctors are still checking the reason why Mercene fell, she added.

Her father's medical bills is nearing P1 million, she said. 

"Baka 'di namin maabot 'yung naka-set na cost na nakalagay so far... Kung sakaling they can spare any monetary donations for the bill, tsaka siyempre... prayers for him. We are just hoping for a good outcome," she said, her voice breaking. 

(We might not be able to afford the cost indicated so far. If you can donate at any amount, and if you can pray for him)

"Mahirap ang buhay, there's a pandemic... Kung mayroon lang silang ma-spare, wala namang naka-set na amount, kung kaya lang, we are very very grateful for that," she added.

(Life is hard. If you can only spare any amount. We are very grateful)

Democracy icon Ninoy Aquino, Jr. was shot at the Manila International Airport's tarmac on Aug. 21, 1983 in this photo taken by Recto Mercene. Photo courtesy of Danica Mercene via Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News
Democracy icon Ninoy Aquino, Jr. was shot at the Manila International Airport's tarmac on Aug. 21, 1983 in this photo taken by Recto Mercene. Photo courtesy of Recto Mercene via Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

An appeal for fundraisers and support was earlier started on Facebook by Danica's friend, Jam Kotenko. 

"While we await for a clearer picture of his case, the hospital bills are slowly and steadily piling up," her post read.

 

"In order to help ease the emotional burden Recto's family will take on as they focus on his care and health, and in order to get ahead of the looming financial challenges they are about to face, we would like to request for financial contributions through this platform."

Mercene is currently a reporter at BusinessMirror.

The photojournalist, then a correspondent of Times Journal, was one of those who shot photos showing the Aquino assassination at the MIA on Aug. 21, 1983 which, some 4 years after, led to the EDSA People Power Revolution that spurred the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

The photos, used by different publications worldwide, showed the slain democracy icon being carried into the van. 

He was shot in the head while being escorted outside the aircraft by several soldiers. A lone gunman, Rolando Galman, was also killed and blamed for the murder.

The Sandiganbayan later handed out convictions to 16 accused.

In an interview on ABS-CBN News in 2018, Mercene narrated the day he took those photographs. 

He said he just shot the photos at the tarmac not thinking about anything, as the murder scene unfolded. 

"Hindi mo na iniisip, may nakita kang nakabulagta, kinukunan mo na. In fact, nagtaka ako bakit dalawa ang nakabulagta... fleeting thought, and then, ang importante siyempre kinukunan mo na," he said. 

(You are no longer thinking about anything because you saw people dead. You are just taking photos. I was asking why 2 people were already dead. What's important is you have the photos)

"I ducked pero hindi ko binitawan yung shutter. Tuloy tuloy na lang ako hanggang naubos yung film... 34 shots ata."

(I ducked but I still held the shutter. I continued shooting it until I consumed all the 34 shots available.)

Monetary donations can be coursed through the following: 
 

  • UnionBank of the Philippines
    Account name: Recto II Mercene
    Account number: 1094 2245 2039
     
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands
    Account name: Recto II Mercene
    Account number: 1766 0582 16
     
  • BDO Unibank
    Account name: Danica C Mercene
    Account number: 005630033337
     
  • GCash
    Account name: Recto II Mercene
    Account number: 0917 754 7390
     
  • -PayPal
    Account holder: Danica Mercene
    PayPal email: danmercene@gmail.com

A fundraising page was also set up on Gava for those who want to donate from overseas and others who prefer this method.

You may go to this link

WATCH OUR PREVIOUS INTERVIEW WITH MERCENE

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