Recharging the nation’s memory on Ninoy

ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - August 21, 2008 - 12:00am

Armed conflict, rising oil and food prices comprise the global crisis affecting our country today. It is serendipitous that we are observing Peace and Freedom Week, August 17-23, centered on recalling the sacrifice of Ninoy Aquino that sparked the will of our people to peacefully overthrow a dictatorship and restore democracy. Only with a pre-eminent and united concern for the welfare of our people: and a willingness to offer our own sacrifice on the altar of peace and democracy, can we triumph over the adversity we now face.

In 1987, under a restored democracy, the first act of Senator Heherson Alvarez, a fellow freedom fighter of Ninoy in exile, was the sponsorship of the passage of Republic Act No. 6639, renaming the Manila International Airport to honor Ninoy Aquino. Thus, in the presence of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the martyred Martin Luther King, Ninoy’s widow, President Cory Aquino, unveiled a gift from NAM-SERVE, a granite stone slab wherein the silhouette of Ninoy’s body lying on the tarmac was carved by a Polish sculptor together with a marker bearing this inscription placed at the tarmac were he fell. I was privileged to craft this salute to our hero.

“On this spot Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was assassinated on 21st of August 1983. It is eternally enshrined, for wherever a martyr has shed his blood for truth, justice, peace and freedom, there is sacred ground. The sun cannot bleach, the wind cannot blow, the rains cannot wash that sanctity away. From the ground like this, springs the spirit which forever makes the Filipino great.”

Last Monday, I was delighted to see our President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo usher the celebration with multiple events to remember Ninoy by installing his bust on a pedestal at the NAIA 3 terminal. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had the vision to appreciate the martyrdom of Ninoy and sign Republic Act No. 9256, declaring Ninoy our modern day hero with the observance of a public holiday. It gratifies me that apart from statues and monuments, the memories of heroism can be remembered with the animation of artistic activities as portrayed by the youth in a diverse program that elicits the creative reflection on the relevance of Ninoy’s martyrdom to our current problems.

Sining Gising on NBN 4 hosted by NCCA Executive Director and P.A. for Culture Cecile Guidote-Alvarez featured on-the-spot paintings by students of DepEd at the Arts Association of the Philippines-Sining Kanlungan. Their slogans and visual interpretation were vivid and underscore their responsibility to protect the legacy of freedom.

Today, August 21, wreath laying ceremonies at Luneta by the City of Manila, Evelio Javier and Chino Roces Foundation, as well as at the Tarmac by NAM-SERVE, a mass organized by Ninoy Aquino Foundation at Don Bosco Parish, an event in Tarlac for inaugurating a Ninoy GK Village and many Ninoy documentaries on various channels will be aired. Tonight at Equilibrium, with the partnership of EDSA People Power Commission and the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts chaired by DepEd Usec. Dr. Vilma Labrador. Ninoy One Life — the first half of a special documentary written and directed by a distinguished American film maker and broadcast journalist, Tom Coffman, will have a world premiere on Channel 4 at 9:15 p.m. Last week, Equilibrium also carried the unique Horta interview, an acknowledgment by the Timor Leste President and Nobel Laureate of the global impact of the martyrdom of Ninoy.

On August 22 at 2 p.m., the finals of a nationwide declamation contest will be held at SM Manila. There is much to learn from Ninoy’s writing. The pen is mightier than the sword. Let us remember some excerpts from Ninoy’s prayer while in jail. “Please give me the grace to smile. When there is only reason to tears; Give me the strength to hold back tears. When sorrow and despair engulf me; Endless loneliness that haunts me . . .”

Let us heed the wisdom of Ninoy in his final message in a plea for peace:

“I have returned on my freewill to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence.

“The country is far advanced in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united.

“The nationwide rebellion is escalating and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution . . .

“Must we relive the agonies and the bloodletting of the past that brought forth our republic or can we sit down as brothers and sisters and discuss our differences with reason and goodwill?

“National reconciliation and unity can be achieved but only with justice, including justice for our Moslem and Ifugao brothers.

“Subversion stems from economic, social and political cause and will not be solved by purely military solutions; it can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom.

“On one of the long corridors of Harvard University are carved in granite the words of Archibald MacLeish: “How freedom shall be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always and in the final act, by determination and faith.

“I return from exile and to an uncertain future with only determination and faith in God.”

We applaud this nationwide inter-agency initiative of remembrance  harnessing a creative army of artists led by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts as a security net against possible amnesia of a nation. Mabuhay si Ninoy! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with