The eternal legacy of Ninoy's last journey
YOUTH SPEAK - Monique Buensalido () - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

The Last Journey of Ninoy was showing on ABS-CBN late last Sunday night, and once the credits were rolling, Ninoy landed as a Trending Topic on Twitter. People were effusive with praise for Ninoy and the very well-made documentary (directed by Jun Reyes and produced by Unitel) about him. We shared our awe and admiration for this man, whose visage we knew quite well from the P500 bill, but whose life remained a bit of a mystery to our young memories. What did we really know about him? I wasn’t even born when he was assassinated.  The Last Journey of Ninoy is an important film that introduces him to a new generation. It follows him on his return to Manila (reenacted by Bam Aquino) and pieces together Ninoy’s life from his humble beginnings to his tragic death. Narrated from Ninoy’s point of view and interviews of his beloved wife Cory, supplemented by photos and TV clips, we see that Ninoy was truly an exceptional and inspiring man.

Hard-working, immensely intelligent, passionate, prayerful and noble, he dedicated his life to public service and, in the latter years of his life, took a stand against the death of democracy in the Philippines. He went through so much pain and loneliness in his struggles, but he was resilient and continued to fight for our freedom. He often said that he was not afraid of dying, and it’s moving to see how much he was willing to give up for this fight. These days, we see our politicians swinging from one party to another, to wherever they think will give them a better chance at winning. It seems that parties — or politicians, for that matter — no longer stand for any one ideology. In Ninoy’s case, you see his beliefs in everything he does — his hunger strike, his seven years in prison, and his attempt to return to Manila. Actions speak louder than words after all. Through his iconic glasses, his eyes remain focused on making his stand clear.

The best revelation about Ninoy was his unmistakable eloquence. It was absolutely arresting. His voice was strong, words sure-footed, and charisma palpable.

When he talked, you couldn’t help but listen and be moved. Cory said he was an extrovert, and it showed in his astute ability to express himself. Best of all, he was genuine. It seemed like his words flowed from his heart. He spoke succinctly and honestly that there was no room for speculation.

Watching her talk about her husband, I kept thinking how hard it must have been for Cory as well. You see that Ninoy was indeed very focused on service, and so he didn’t have a lot of time for his family. It was something that she had to accept and live with. She supported his endeavours, no matter how dangerous, painful, and uncertain for him. Unselfish as Ninoy was, giving his life to our country, she too was unselfish in letting him. Behind this great man was indeed a great woman.

The documentary showed Ninoy’s last trip back to Manila, and the closer he got to Aug. 21, the more I wanted him to stop and turn back. Then again, perhaps it really was God’s plan. After all, his death ignited the revolution that finally led to the Filipino people waking up and reclaiming our democracy. Ninoy repeatedly said he was not afraid of death. It was like he knew the path he was meant to take.

Still, I was in tears as he wrote his last letter to Cory: “I’ll call you this evening if everything goes smoothly…if not, then just remember me in your dreams.” Twenty-six years after his death, we remember his life in gratitude. I certainly hope we all remember, and not just by buying shirts and putting Twibbons on our Twitter profile pictures. I got goosebumps when he challenged, “Stand up and be a leader!” We wonder if we will ever encounter another Ninoy in our lifetime. Perhaps we just needed to remember who he was to see ourselves in him.

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