In 1983, Ninoy Aquino affirmed his resolute claim, “The Filipino is worth dying for,” by giving up his life for his countrymen. In time, they responded in similarly heroic kind, “Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa”—and, led by his widow, Cory, achieved the political apotheosis needed for Ninoy’s assassination to be transformed into martyrdom. But, 25 years later, can the now liberated Filipino also resolutely aver, “Ninoy, hindi ka namin nakakalimutan”? The youth, especially, generally have only a vague notion of what the slain opposition leader stood for, and why he gave up his life. That’s a pity for Ninoy, but a tragedy for the youth, because it deprives them of the heroic example they need to energize and transform their own lives.
Happily, the Foundation for Worldwide People Power has produced its latest documentary, “Beyond Conspiracy: 25 Years After the Aquino Assassination,” which we previewed and discuss by Mr. Totanes, the speaker last Monday at Richard Fernando Hall, Ateneo de Naga University. Its aim is simple: to “affirm the historical significance of the Aquino assassination to the youth, many of whom have very little knowledge of this tragedy and its profound impact on Philippine society”. It is also for “those who have grown indifferent, convinced that Ninoy died in vain.”
It has been 25 years, but Ninoy’s dreams for the Filipino people live on. Do not forget. Despite events that seem to have wiped out the hopes born out of Ninoy’s death, his sacrifice was not in vain. Like what I’ve said earlier, Ninoy said that “the Filipino is worth dying for.” He didn’t have to return, because he knew what it could cost him. But he did, because he had great hopes and believed that we can achieve great good. We are the ones he died for. Our freedom is what he gained for us, though he did not taste it himself. We have made a mess of many things in the country. But as long as there are those who will not forget the value that Ninoy has put on the Filipino, there is hope for change. Ninoy’s legacy lives on. He was our hope. He was the one who was to bring change. He did eventually catalyze radical change in the political landscape of the Philippines, but at great cost to himself.