PNoy on Ninoy and Cory

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

I have always associated the month of August with the Aquino family. It was during this month that Cory Aquino passed away and during her funeral procession, hundreds of thousands of people were in the streets to bid her farewell. It was also during this month that Ninoy Aquino was assassinated and brought more than a million people out into the streets of Metro Manila to bid him farewell. Through the years, I have written several articles on the Aquinos. One of my most interesting interviews was a lengthy conversation with President Noynoy about his life experiences with his parents.

I remember one time asking him how his parents influenced him in his personal life and in his presidency. This was his answer: “As I was growing up they were both available to render advice for my various problems. Although after the declaration of martial law when my mom became both mother and father, I tended to try and solve my own problems. I didn’t want to impose any more burden and hardships on them. In hindsight, that was wrong. I probably should have opened up more to them and asked for more advice. It would have spared me from some heartaches.

“How do they shape the way I view the world, the way I absorb and analyze the problems? It all really comes from what I learned from them and to this day, whenever I have my own hardships, I look at what they had to undergo and I’m strengthened by how they confronted the problem and how they overcame the problems that came before them. All the problems that I have now pale in comparison to what they had in their lifetime. That inspires me that no matter how dark the period is, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will get there somehow.”

He also told me that more than specific advice, what was more valuable to him was the life experience of his parents. “Yes, it would seem that words are cheap but actions really mean a lot and when they made pronouncements, there was no disconnect between their words and their actions. So anybody can mouth all these platitudes but they actually walked the talk.”

In the course of the same interview, I asked him also in what ways he was like his mother and his father. “My father has always been the leader in any group. There may be the process of consensus building, but it seems a decision has already been reached earlier, so the process leads you to the decision. His dynamism is something I strive for. He would be walking and everybody would be almost jogging just to keep up with him. He also had this fixation about not having enough time to do all the things that he wanted to do. I feel that way at this stage of my life – will I have enough time to do all that I want to do?

“My mother was very, very patient and would always try consensus building rather than dictating to everybody or ordering everybody around. I’d like to think that I’m combining both of their talents. They have similarities for that matter. For instance, [while] my father was a voracious reader, my mother inculcated the love of reading in us.

“The quest for knowledge was in both of them. In [Fort] Bonifacio, my dad had so much time on his hands, he started reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. He had such a fantastic memory. He’d suddenly ask us a question, like, what is angina pectoris? (Laughs) Thought it sounded bastos [malicious] at first. It is actually a painful heart condition. In my youth, the Hardy Boys hardbound books were a significant expense based on the allowance that I had. We were never discouraged [from] purchasing books. We were always encouraged in that quest, to satisfy the thirst for knowledge.”

I asked him if he had the chance to address millennials to say what legacy of Ninoy and Cory Aquino they should remember and not mind the dismissive attitude of some who will say, “It’s time to move on.”

His reply: “This will sound like a broken record: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, are the words of George Santayana. He didn’t say, ‘might repeat it,’ he said, ‘condemned to repeat it.’ Now, may kasabihan tayo, yung hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa paroroonan. There are some committed persons who take it upon themselves to fight for a cause. I’d like to include my father in that mold. Babalik ka sa tanong, bakit kailangan kargahin ng isang tao sa balikat ang lahat ng problema natin? How did we get here? All the excesses of martial law could not have happened overnight. The majority allowed the abuses to pile up. We are lucky we had EDSA, a peaceful revolution with no bloodshed. We cannot say that all Filipinos wanted a peaceful revolution, though. There is another Filipino saying that what we do not value and safeguard, we are bound to lose. So if we do not look at where we came from, it is guaranteed that we will not reach our destination. We have to ensure that the way we were abused in the past should not happen again.”

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Young Writers’ Hangout on Aug. 27 with returning author-facilitator Mica Magsanoc, 2-3 p.m. Contact [email protected]. 0945.2273216

Email: [email protected]

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