Democracy: The legacy of Ninoy and Tita Cory!


If you were born at the time when a grieving nation buried our martyred hero Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. on that very unforgettable day of Aug. 31,1983, you’d be 26 years today. So it is safe to say that the great multitude of those who gave former Pres. Corazon “Tita Cory” Aquino a rousing farewell were only children when Ninoy was buried, while most of the young marchers during Ninoy’s day are now aging or getting old. 

Back then, I was a young 36-year old businessman and a Rotarian and one among the many millions who believed that Ninoy’s return to the country would finally usher changes in our nation, which has been on a stranglehold grip by the conjugal Marcos Dictatorship for 20 years. Ninoy’s assassination may have snuffed the hopes we had of Ninoy’s becoming the next President after Marcos. But Ninoy’s death didn’t go in vain. When the Agrava Commission jailed only the AVSECOM soldiers and acquitted the higher-ranking officers, we knew that that was grand whitewash to cover the real faces that ordered Ninoy Aquino assassinated.

Ninoy’s death resulted in righteous indignation by an angry Filipino nation. Yes we in Cebu bravely sang the stirring words of “Bayan Ko” and Ninoy’s favorite “The Impossible Dream” whenever there were rallies by the opposition in open defiance of the Marcos Regime and all that ended in the streets of EDSA, that ushered the now famous “People Power” Revolt that encouraged the peoples of the world who were oppressed by their leaders to wake up and revolted against their governments.

After EDSA, this happened in Poland, then the Balkans in what used to be Yugoslavia, then the so-called Iron Curtain fell apart when the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed and this even spread into Tiananmen Square and as of late, in Myanmar, Tibet and now in Iran. People Power had become a global phenomenon and gives potential tyrants a warning that if they don’t take care of their people, they will turn against them and throw them out of power!

There are many similarities in the funeral of Ninoy and Tita Cory’s funeral. Ninoy was a former Senator whom the Marcos dictatorship convicted and as many still suspect ordered to be killed, so the people turned out to honor his martyrdom; while the funeral for Tita Cory had the support of not just the multitude of grateful mourners, but was also participated by government agencies, like the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as this time around, Tita Cory was also being honored as a former President and Commander in Chief of the Philippines.

Already many opportunists are planning to use the return of the so-called “Cory Magic” to forge perhaps another political party using the Aquino banner. To them I say, wait a minute! In my book, both Ninoy and Cory have gone beyond politics and their memory should not be linked to any political party that may someday fail in delivering its promises and taint the memories of Ninoy and Tita Cory. I would rather have their memories etched in the consciousness of the Filipino people as an example of selfless and humble leadership, qualities that we need for our future President.

One very positive note we saw during the wake of Tita Cory at the Manila Cathedral was the unexpected visit of the children of the late Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos, former Ilocos Governor now Rep. Bong Bong Marcos and Imee Marcos. Watching them on ANC TV, you could see that they felt awkward at first, but the warm “beso-beso” of Tita Cory’s family assured them that they were welcomed inside the church. What we saw was decades of animosity melting away inside the Manila Cathedral, where our Catholic faith teaches us forgiveness and loving one another. We’re not asking for anything more than what we saw, as it is an affirmation of that old saying, “Time heals all wounds.”

I got a deluge of emails from friends recalling how Tita Cory meant to them, unfortunately, we don’t have enough space to place them all here. But allow me to reprint a part of a letter sent to me by Mr. Jose “JoeCon” Concepcion who was DTI Secretary under Tita Cory and it reminded me of the People’s Economic Council (PEC) hour that I co-anchored with then radioman Cerge M. Remonde over radio station DYLA.

JoeCon said, “The Assassination of Ninoy Aquino on Aug. 21,1983 galvanized many peace-loving Filipinos to take action, to commit themselves to the crusade to bring about the change in the country. In my case, with the seed planted by his letter to me, it was what moved me to organize the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel). In doing so, I would find myself on the path of destiny that would soon intersect with that of Cory Aquino.” JoeCon’s letter was entitled, “It all began with Ninoy.” I concur that all this really began with Ninoy’s legacy in sacrificing his life for our democracy!

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For e-mail responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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