Ninoy’s martyrdom
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Every Aug. 21, Filipinos commemorate the martyrdom of Benigno “ Ninoy” Aquino Jr., which triggered the People Power Revolution that led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

There are many types of heroic deeds and heroes. Some are military commanders, intellectuals like Jose Rizal, and even scientists. Then there are heroes who suffer persecution and death for espousing a cause they believe in. Such heroes continue to fight for and remain committed to a cause, even as they are fully aware of the risks and can foresee possible retaliation by their opponents. Such people we call martyrs, and their death, because of their adherence to a cause, martyrdom.

Although there have been martyrs throughout history, their numbers are very few because their ultimate fate – death – is considered as too great a price to pay. Martyrs do not seek death but they are willing to die rather than renounce their beliefs. But it also true that martyrdom serves as the ultimate for others to continue fighting for their cause.

Ninoy Aquino knew that martyrdom was awaiting him when he decided to go back to the Philippines from the US. He wrote a speech which he intended to give upon his return . Unfortunately, he was assassinated upon his return. Here is an excerpt from that undelivered speech:

“ I am prepared for the worst, and I have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser. Many of my tested friends, and a few of my most valued political mentors.

A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, both calling for death penalties, have been filed since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts. 

I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in a time of crisis.

I never sought nor have I been given assurances or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end, justice will emerge triumphant.

According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.”

Mahatma Gandhi preached and practiced the doctrine of nonviolent resistance to all forms of oppression. He used his formidable leadership skills to help attain independence for India. He also struggled to prevent his country from being divided into two nations, one Muslim and the other Hindu.

In 1948, as he stepped out to greet some people, Godse, a Hindu extremist, shot him three times. His death, unfortunately, did not prevent the partition of India. But today Gandhi is still recognized as the inspiration and embodiment of nonviolent resistance even if he suffered a violent death. 

Martin Luther King Jr. organised and inspired numerous acts of civil disobedience, sit-ins and marches for civil rights. He received the Nobel Prize in 1964, the youngest recipient at that time. In 1968, he was shot and killed by a white racist. 

Dr. Jose Rizal wrote two books, Noli Me Tangere, and El Filibusterismo. While in prison he wrote the poem Mi Ultimo Adios. His writings became part of the inspiration for the Philippine revolution. But it was his public execution that became the symbol of Spanish oppression and Filipinos’ struggle for independence.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, Ninoy suffered a violent death. Upon his arrival in the Philippines, he was  shot to death  as soon as he was on the last step of the service stairway. 

Like Martin Luther King, Jr. the death of Ninoy provided more inspiration for more civil disobedience and marches that eventually became known as the People Power Movement.

Finally, like Dr. Jose Rizal, Ninoy’s execution became the symbol of the Marcos tyranny and further fuelled the courage and commitment to freedom of the Filipino people . Two scenes – Rizal being shot by Spanish soldiers in Luneta and Ninoy’s body lying still on the airport tarmac – are among the most distinguished images in Philippine history. These two scenes have also epitomized the ideals of Filipino heroism and love of freedom. 

There are very few stories in the Philippine saga as inspiring as the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino. 

The Leonardo A. Sta. Romana Memorial Elementary School

Friday, Aug. 23, is a special day for my wife Neni’s family for she and her Sta. Romana cousins are all traveling to Barangay Sta. Arcadia in their hometown, Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, for the formal turnover of the Leonardo A. Sta. Romana Memorial Elementary School, which began in 1960 on a parcel of land of 10,930 square meters donated by their grandparents, Leonardo and Gorgonia Osias Sta. Romana. The Deed of Donation has been completed under the Department of Education’s Adopt a School Program, and will allow the school to grow even more to answer the needs of the students of the community. We have been coordinating with school principal Maricel Candido because of the faculty’s interest in local history and knowing more about the life story of the school donor.

Creative writing classes for all 

Young Writers’ Hangout on September 7 & 21 (1:30 pm-3pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. Adult class on writing poetry with Gemino Abad on Sept. 28, 1:30-4:30 pm. For details and registration,  email


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