MANILA - Destiny played a big role in the life of Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
Noynoy was 15 when his father, Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., gave him the responsibility to take care of his mother and sisters.
“The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience,” Ninoy said in a letter to Noynoy written from prison in Fort Bonifacio in 1975.
“There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength,” he added.
"Son, the ball is now in your hands."
Noynoy was only 23 when his father was assassinated upon his return from the United States.
In 1986, his mother Corazon Aquino was swept to power following the People Power Revolution.
Noynoy bravely defended his mother from rebels who staged a coup d’etat, getting hit by bullets.
He started serving as representative of Tarlac’s second district in 1998, ran for the Senate and won in 2007.
But fate had other plans.
August 1, 2009, following the death of his mother from colon cancer, calls started to snowball for the son to run for President in the 2010 elections.
Forty days following the death of his mom, Noynoy announced he was running.
“Tinatanggap ko ang hiling ng sambayanan. Tinatanggap ko rin po ang bilin at habilin, tagubilin ng aking mga magulang. Tinatanggap ko ang responsibilidad na ituloy ang laban para sa bayan. Tinatanggap ko ang hamong mamuno sa labang ito. Bayang Pilipinas, tatakbo ako sa pagka-pangulo sa darating na halalan,” Aquino said when he declared his candidacy at Club Filipino.
“Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” became his campaign slogan, advocating for a “straight path” in governance after the Arroyo administration was riddled with various controversies and allegations of corruption.
Aquino received more than 15 million votes in the 2010 presidential race and vowed to run an honest and clean government that will listen to the people.
“Walang lamangan, walang padrino at walang pagnanakaw. Walang wang-wang, walang counterflow, walang tong. Panahon na upang tayo ay muling magkawang-gawa,” Aquino vowed in his inaugural speech.
“Nandito tayo ngayon dahil sama-sama tayong nanindigan at nagtiwala na may pag-asa. The people who are behind us dared to dream. Today, the dream starts to become a reality. Sa inyong mga nag-iisip pa kung tutulong kayo sa pagpasan ng ating krus, isa lang ang aking tanong – kung kailan tayo nanalo, saka pa ba kayo susuko? Kayo ang boss ko, kaya’t hindi maaaring hindi ako makinig sa mga utos ninyo.”
Aquino wanted to form a Truth Commission to investigate cases of corruption during the Arroyo years but the Supreme Court thumbed it down.
Aquino saw then Chief Justice Renato Corona as a stumbling block to his reform efforts, insisting he was a “midnight appointee” of former President Arroyo.
“Ngayon, kung may isang lingkod-bayan na tumatanaw ng utang ng loob, hindi sa taumbayan na siyang dapat na bukal ng aming kapangyarihan, kundi sa isang padron na isiniksik siya sa puwesto, maaasahan po kaya natin siyang intindihin ang interes ng Pilipino?” Aquino said in the presence of Corona during his speech at the 1st National Criminal Justice Summit held in December 2011.
Corona was later impeached and ousted.
Aquino also challenged China, deciding to hail Beijing to court to question its sweeping claim in waters covered by the West Philippine Sea.
“Mayroon po tayong mga miron na nagsasabing hayaan na lang ang Bajo de Masinloc; umiwas na lang tayo. Pero kung may pumasok sa inyong bakuran at sinabing sa kanya na ang kanyang kinatatayuan ay sa kanya na, papayag ba kayo? Hindi naman po yata tamang ipamigay na lang natin sa iba ang sadyang atin talaga,” Aquino said in his 2012 State of the Nation Address at the height of the standoff with Chinese ships at Scarborough Shoal.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a decision in favor of the Philippines just days after Aquino’s term ended.
Aquino confronted various crises during his term, from the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013 and the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers in Mamasapano in 2015.
In his last State of the Nation Address in 2015, Aquino admitted he was not perfect but said he always had the Filipino people’s interest at heart.
“Mga Boss, aaminin ko: Ni minsan po, hindi ko sinabing ako’y perpekto. Minsan, binigo tayo ng ilang inasahan nating alam dapat ang kanilang trabaho. Sa mga panahong tila gumana ang pagpapaduda, baka hindi rin namin nahanap agad at naibahagi ang impormasyon sa oras at sa paraang nais ninyo. Hinihingi ko po muli ang inyong pag-unawa sa mga bagay na ito,” he said.
“Sa kabila nito, mahaharap ko ang sinoman at masasabing: Ginawa ko ang pinakamainam na desisyon batay sa kaalaman at kakayahang mayroon tayo sa panahong iyon. Kaisa-isang interes ko ang kapakanan ng aking Boss.”
He also vowed that he did his best.
“Ginawa ko ang lahat upang iwanang mas makatarungan, mas maunlad, at tumatamasa ng makabuluhang pagbabago ang ating bansa. [Palakpakan] Hahayaan ko na pong kasaysayan ang humusga. Gaya nga po noong burol ng aking ina, bibigkasin ko ang Ikalawang Aklat ni Timoteo, Kabanata 4, Bersikulo 7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”