Knowing Ninoy Aquino


In 2010 I wrote an essay, “Knowing Ninoy Aquino,” which I hoped to publish into a book but not having enough funds for the undertaking, I succeeded only in publishing it in my blog KAMAO.

In that essay, I detailed my own involvement in the revolutionary movement called the National Democratic Revolution, from my organizing of a labor union in Makabayan Publishing Corporation, owned by J. Amado Araneta, grandfather of now presidential aspirant Mar Roxas; to my deeper integration into the revolution, first as staff member of the education department of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Party Group in the Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng mga Manggawa (KASAMA). Then, after being elevated to full-fledge membership in the Party, as head of that department onward to my assertion of overall leadership of the group when upon the declaration of martial law, the Group Gensec ended up in military hands.

In all these capacities, I ran through the gamut of varied revolutionary tasks, organizing unions, conducting education among workers, from the abattoir in Vitas, Tondo, to ladies garment factories in Valenzuela, from textile mills in Pasig all the way to the sacadas in Tarlac.

Propaganda had already been my cup of tea, and in the revolutionary movement I used it to the hilt in the trimedia, particularly promoting the revolutionary strike movement, envisaged to bring about the final collapse of the enemy’s political power in the cities.

My first ever feel of a grenade was in that rally one rainy afternoon at the corner of T. M. Kalaw and Roxas Boulevard, directed at the US embassy just a hundred meters away. I did not know that it would be my baptism of fire.

Under the command of Manila Police Chief Col. Robert Barbers, the police had blocked our advance at the intersection, and our march toward the embassy came to a standstill.

While the lead agitators were taunting the police and mouthing anti-US imperialist tirades, Ka Estrel sidled up to me and in a stealthy manner slung on my shoulder a soft, innocent-looking bag made of cloth (backpacks were not yet in vogue at the time), then whispered: “Ganyan ang ginamit sa Plaza Miranda. Pagbunot ng pin, ibato mo agad. Four seconds sasabog yan. (That’s the same kind used in Plaza Miranda. After pulling out the pin, throw it at once. In four seconds it will explode.)” And with that, Ka Estrel made herself scant. Shortly after, those at the front line succeeded in intimidating the policemen, who started charging. Those assigned with pillboxes exploded their weapons at the police onrush.

That was supposed to be my cue to explode my own fireworks.

I thought I passed my test in terms of quick-decision making. At the last minute I decided not to throw the grenade but kept it in the bag, lugging it as I rushed along with the retreating rallyists. Realizing that the pursuing policemen were gaining in on us unavoidably, I dived into the foot of the Rizal Monument in which, it turned out, police pursuit was taboo. At the eye-signal from one of the Marine soldiers guarding the monument for me to stay put there, I crouched even lower behind the concrete railing as the policemen rushed by.

Col. Barbers and the policemen who got hit only with the non-fatal pillbox shrapnels should owe me a debt of gratitude for not having been blasted by the explosive I had in my bag. And to the Marines guards, thank you whoever you are and wherever you are for not telling me to the pursuing policemen. Had they done so, I would have exploded the grenade just the same then and there and thereby gone down in history as the guy who blasted Rizal the second time around. But since I had made it a habit not to carry any identifying papers in the performance of my tasks, nobody would have found any identifying mark among the shattered pieces of my flesh and nobody would ever have known whodunit.

Thus did I flunk the baptism of fire
Now, more than four decades after that incident, I still feel goose pimples creeping all over my body every time I think of what would have happened had I thrown that grenade. I would imagine the mangled bodies of those in Plaza Miranda that evening of August 21, 1971 and I would ask myself endlessly if I could have lived with the memory of it all afterward. And the answer would be: No, never mind if I failed the test, failed to have risen to that supreme rank of a red fighter to which every activist at the time was aspiring. Serving the people does not mean blind obedience to an order done in a manner no different from the military dictum that we used to see inscribed at the gates of Camp Aguinaldo: “Ours is not to reason why/Ours is but to do or die.” For if this, too, were our doctrine, how distinguish us then from the fascism that we were supposed to fight in Marcos?

In his book Art of War Sun Tzu speaks of three ways in which “a sovereign can bring misfortune upon his army.” One such way is, Sun Tzu says, “By commanding an army to advance or retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey…”

Antagonism within CPP
Martial Law was declared, throwing our unit in disarray, rocked further by an endemic antagonism in the party structure whereby regional leadership clashed with that of the national workers’ sector, with the former tightly toeing the Jose Maria Sison “mass line” of establishing a broad alliance with all “progressive” sectors that included capitalists, the bottom line being opposition to the Marcos dictatorship; and the latter closely adhering to the proletarian revolutionary line which it argued to be the correct “party line.” My individual criticism of the Sison strategy as well as of his Mao Tse Tung copy-cat analysis of Philippine society must have reached all the way to the “sovereign” so that when the directive for the unit to retreat to the countryside was made, it was not meant to include me.

Years later – after I successfully sneaked back into mainstream entertainment writing onward to writing and directing films – I would hear of Ka Estrel getting killed in Cebu in an encounter with government forces. This, along with stories about other elements from our unit meeting with the same fate in Central Luzon, in Bicol and in the Cordilleras, fate that would most likely have befallen me as well had I passed the test Ka Estrel, in all good faith, led me to.

And now, looking back at how the movement got splintered, with the people’s army reduced to guerilla unit formations in contrast to the exhilarating size of 25,000 regulars in company formations on the eve of EDSA 1, I can’t help raising the question: Have those deaths of comrades been worth it? God – I gasped unmindful of any implication the ejaculation connoted – what about those who would have met with their own gruesome demise had I, in one moment of insanity, thrown my own assigned grenade?

For a time, I kept the grenade in a relative’s apartment together with a stockpile of the five volumes of Mao Tse Tung’s writings, which were in my custody as ED (Education Department) head of the national party group in the workers’ trade union sector. After a time, I surrendered it to the HO (higher organ): I wouldn’t be a good grenade exploder.

Only then was I told by Ka Willy, head of the National Trade Union Bureau to whom I turned over the explosive, as a matter of side talk, that the grenade came from Ninoy.

Now, how can I possibly just sit by watching while the very poison I gulped in all naivete in my youth is once again being fed by the Yellow Cult into multitudes of the current young. I swallowed that poison in the pure belief it was the way to achieve workers’ liberation. But the turning point would come.

That was August 21, 1971. The grand miting de avance of the Liberal Party that evening was blasted, resulting in deaths and injuries to more than a hundred. As expected, the instant blame was put on Marcos. But that got me squirming terribly inside. Marcos might be a despot, but he was an intelligent man, oh, much too intelligent to commit the stupidity of bombing his opponent’s political rally. He should know it would be blamed on him and he would not do it.

On the other hand, was it too smart of Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. to be the only LP senatorial candidate who was safely away at the time of the explosions? It seemed to smack of genius, doing evil and then have it blamed on his enemy. But, as Andres Bonifacio said it, nobody escapes history. Over time, events would unfold to prove Ninoy’s crime.

End of Part 2. Part 3 will come out next Saturday.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. arthur t. madayag on

    Buti nga sa yo! Our elders use to tell us this everytime we disobey their good counsel. And that precisely applies to all Filipinos who voted for Pnoy. Despite knowing the facts about their family’s evil political intentions a lot of people still voted for him.

  2. hey in the 90’s during my college years there were some student activists and if I had not gone into drinking and rock n roll , I would had been one of rallyists or NPAs.
    thanks Ginebra san Miguel my patron saint. ora pro nobis.

  3. I’ve got a feeling Mr. Samonte and I have crossed paths during my rebelious youth, joining the Kabataang Makabayan of Nilo Tayag . Marching to Plaza Miranda as a student of Araneta University we always passed along the Bonifacio Monument shouting makibaka huwag matakot. That was the year of our innocence and now as we grew old we can agree to disagree. The truth shall set us free and I agree to your recollection that Ninoy had a hand in the Plaza Miranda bombing, the respected Jovy Salonga who nearly died in that bombing carried that horror to his grave. I always tell this story of the martial law years to my three sons who were born after EDSA and you can sense their immediate indifference, glad they dont care about the yellow cult either.

  4. hill roberts on

    Every young Filipino student must read this, since this story came from the horse’s mouth Thank you for this confirmation. Indeed, I’ve always believed that Ninoy had a lot to do with the Plaza Miranda bombing.

  5. comment lang.. on

    may kasabihan tayo na lalabas at lalabas din ang katotohanan kahit gaano pa ito katagal itago. panahon na para magising tayong lahat na mga pilipino. anim na taon naging pangulo si cory,si ramos ,at ngayon si pnoy i declline to capitalize their name coz they’re not worth it, and they’re not honoroble they’re horrorable ,wala man lang ngyari o resulta sa investigasyon sa pgkamatay ng traidor na si ninoy na tinutring nilang bayani(in what aspect).to think na dapat mgpursigi sila dahil nasa kapangyarihan sila, hindi kaya ito’y plinano na nilang talaga ngdesisiyon n kilitin ang sariling buhay at palabasin na pinatay para lamang talagang gamiting para ibagsak si Pangulong Marcos dahil hindi nila kayang pabagsakin kya gumawa ng kadramahan ang mga aquino,sabagay me lahi kasi silang tililing kya ganyan ang ginawa ngpagamit sa kasamaan..mas inatupag nilang kamkamin ang kayamanan ng bayan nung sila ay nasa kapangyarihan kesa bgyan katarungan ang ngyari sa kanilang kalahi.sana mgkaroon ng librong ganito ang nilalaman katotohanan sa panahon ng martial law para malinawan ang mga taong bayan na nahipnotized ng mga yellow culprit.

  6. ANG MGA AQUINO’S ANG MGA SALOT AT LAHI NANG MGA JUDAS NA MGA TRAYDOR NANG KINAWAWANG BANSA NA ITO…. NINOY, CORY, AND NOW NOYNOY…ANONG maganda ang ginawa nang mga iyan???? NADA, ZERO, ZILCH…BOKYA. Ipinagkanulo pa nang mga TRAYDOR na mga Aquinos ang interests nang bansa sa paghahabol ni Marcos sa teritoryo nang SABAH. Ipiagkanulo nag TRAYDOR na Noynoy ang interests nang bansa favor sa Malaysia sa isinusulong na Hindot na BBL. Ang Nuno nila ay COLLABORATOR sa mga Hapon para sa sariling interests nang mga Aquinos nang WWII. SALOT NANG PILIPINAS ANG MGA AQUINOS….

  7. this is the truth that was been hidden to us ever since. my dad told me this, that marcos is not stupid enough to do all of this stuff. ninoys hunger for power led him to do whatever it will cause, anyway they are only casualty of war(in a saying) he was a communist in mind and in spirit, he even brought that ideology in america when he was given the chance to be a guest student in harvard of course with the help of marcos. then, then , harvard found out he is teachings about rebellion that why he was banned in the university, his priviledge was taken off to him.
    poor marcos we blame him with so many things , we never gave him the dignity he deserves. if he is a violent man , there is no EDSA. and we totally erase his good deeds in the history by the dictate of the yellow curse government.
    and i believe you sir, you said the right thing and this should be dessiminate to the youth of today because the youth of yesterday are all been eaten by the rotten mind of communist.

  8. I this were true. Then Ninoy will come down in history as the worst Filipino villain, the Filipinos ever produced.

  9. very interesting article, if you ever will surely buy it. Thank you for the article

  10. One DeLaCruise on

    During the campaign period for 1969 Presidential and Congressional Elections, the NP candidate and the LP candidate for the congressional seat in the 2nd district of La Union were in a serious and sometimes violent confrontational mode.

    Both candidates employed goons and armed bodyguards. The NP candidate was based in Agoo, La Union while the LP candidate although a resident of San Fernando, La Union in the 1st district, used Aringay, La Union as his base of operations.

    The NP candidate was rumored to have imported convicts from the National Bilibid Penitentiary to serve as his bodyguards. The LP candidate reportedly imported his goons from the neighboring province of Ilocos Sur.

    Weeks before the November ’69 elections, a group of men from Tarlac and Pampanga went to meet with representatives of the LP candidate at a famous beach resort hotel in Barrio Paringao, Bauang, La Union owned by a relative of the LP candidate. The men from Tarlac and Pampanga offered the LP candidate arms, ammunition and manpower to support his election bid against the NP candidate. For some reason, the LP candidate courteously declined the offer.

    The men from Tarlac and Pampanga who visited the LP candidate were led by Commander Dante of the NPA. They were sent to offer their help upon the instructions of Ninoy Aquino, who was an LP stalwart at that time.

    The source of this story about the clandestine meeting was from a reliable and respected ex-politician from the Province of La Union who was related to the LP candidate. He arranged the meeting place of the two parties at the famous La Union beach resort hotel.

    The NP candidate won and in later years went on to become a ranking cabinet member in the Marcos government. The losing LP candidate passed away after a few years later due to illness.

    After reading Mr. Mauro Gia Samonte’s article, I am more convinced that the late Senator had his loyalties elsewhere.

    • Jose D. Aspiras is already the Press Secretary of Marcos when he ran for congressman in 1969 in lieu of NP congressman Castillejos of Caba, La Union who gave way to the Marcos favorite . Who is this LP candidate? definitely not Cases of Agoo.

  11. and the saga continue…my sons are lucky enough not to know this. Have they known, I will spent a lot of sleepless nights responding to their piercing questions of why and who? I always thought that Ninoy is the righteous, heaven forbid, I could have lied to my sons. One day I will bring them to Batac, the hometown of their grandfather ( RIP Dad ). Dad was right and we had many discussions then, some not so pleasant. I will make my sons proud of their roots and acquaint them to one of its great sons, the one Benigno told many lies about. And my Dad will be happy in his grave.

  12. I honestly confessed, I too, was a victim. I was taken for a ride. And I’m trying to make amend by supporting the son of a man whose greatness is incomparable to a fake hero named Ninoy Aquino.

  13. Mauro Gia Samonte, from a communist you transformed into an entertainment writer cum movie writer and director, kaya naman pala entertainment piece at kathang isip itong iyong artikulo. Isang mala Cesar Montano pelikula.

  14. WOW! And we have a NAIA1, NAIA 2 , NAIA 3 and NAIA 4 and we even elected the son who we all voted to be president (not me) is a retarded person by the name of BS Aquino. No wonder why the Philippines is one of corrupt countries in the entire world.

  15. Ewan ko nga ba kun bakit ang dami kaming naloko ni congenital liar nuong panahon na yon. Indeed, during those years, we blamed Mr. Marcos for the Plaza Miranda bombing but the bombing was an exercise of reverse psychology. It was the very same tactic that was used in the UP Student Council election of 1971 when the whole AS Building was painted red with slogans to make it appear that it was the “communists” and the “progressive” who did it. Of course, most of the freshmen who were not yet “mulat” were appalled and hence voted the reputed “son” of Mr. Marcos as the new Student Council Chairman instead of the candidate of the activists and the progressive sector of the studentry.

    This blame gene of Ninoy was a legacy to the reputed son of quo rhee. Hence, any kapalpakan is always blamed to his predecessor. Even his deficiencies now are still blamed to Mr. Marcos even after 30 years has gone. All of these could have been avoided had those Ateneo Jesuits been more patriotic and made public the results of benigno’s psychiatric tests before the 2010 election. Ditto with Manong Ernie who is privy to all the mental problems of his friend’s son.

  16. The need to rewrite our history is now becoming apparent. Who is the hero? Who should not be in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani? Is our national airport properly named?

  17. mau, do you have something, anything, why Cory Aquino so hated Sen. Jovito Salonga that she supported FVR in the 1992 presidential elections when FVR was one of her husband’s jailer and Salonga was Ninoy’s counsel and partner in the fight against Marcos? All because Salonga said the communists did not bomb the LP Plaza Miranda rally in 1971.

  18. Revisionism, they call this, distorting history… Yet when confronted with accounts like this, they do not respond neither refute. They just cry to the top of their lungs, “Revisionism!”

  19. Oh my, we are terribly betrayed by how we are taught in school and how media abs-cbn particularly falsely portray Marcos as the villain.

  20. All the characters in this fictitious narrative are either dead or non-existent and the story teller portrays himself as hero narrating fictitious events. I was in Plaza Miranda the night the Liberal Party was bombed and witnessed the chaos. I would agree with the accounts detailed in the book titled “Marcos Dynasty” written by top investigative author Sterling Seagrave that the bombing was the handiwork of Ferdinand E Marcos to justify the arrest of Ninoy Aquino.

    • ang pagkakaalam ko inako ni joe ma sison ang ‘plaza miranda bombing’ pagkaraan ng maraming taon. sino ang paniniwalaan mo yung may pakana ng bombing o yung banyaga na sumulat ng libro???

  21. Filipino people especially the poor masses are the kind of very gullible when it comes to gossips.In this country,a simple news,the kind of taboo,will easily be believed even in the absence of facts that will prove it.This is what the communists and the yellow cult had for a long period of time have already established,studied and have been employing and using at the behest of the unknowingly lamebrain public.The Filipino stupidity of first knowing the facts and the truthfulness of a story or a news before presuming it as true,will be used continually by the desperate yellow cult and their allies.Why,because they looked at us as the uneducated,brainless,senseless laughable fools who does not have the ability to discern what is the truth and what is false.That is what Ninoy and his communist cohorts did to demonize Marcos and to put this nation into chaos and disarray.The same is what the yellow cult,his communist allies and oligarch cronies are deliberately and continuously employing to stay in power mismanaging the country.Are we going to allow these imbeciles to continue treating us,the Filipino public,as morons and stupid muttonheads while they continue their impunity? If you will ask me?,not anymore!!!What they will get from me is a zero vote.LP or non LP members whom i can identify as an ally of the Aquino clan and their yellow cult…

  22. I heard this is a story long time ago that when Jovy Salonga was the Head of PCCG, he intentionally had the Marcos documents stolen because of his anger and hate against Ninoy Aquino for the bombing in Plaza Miranda so that Cory Aquino would not be praised in the recovery of the Marcos wealth. Those who know salonga never carried an attache case in his career as a lawyer…your story further gives that Ninoy Aquino had a hand in the Plaza Miranda bombing!

  23. This is really interesting information, although the title or headline is rather misleading. I hope you are now in a position to write your book. Self-publication is now so common that you should not find it difficult to publish your book. The more books (recollections, memoirs, etc.) are written about this period in Philippine, the more we will get closer to the truth of what really happened. Is Ninoy Aquino a hero or a villain?

  24. Dennis Fernandez on

    If ever your claim was true, it would appear that Marcos was right to prosecute Ninoy for complicity to commit rebellion with the communists. I read in one of the news articles that no less than former senator Salonga commented Ninoy had something to do with the Plaza Miranda bombing

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      The time has come for truth to be out. Sen. Salonga did comment what was then the truth. And, the anomaly continues with mother and son having to do with it. Reason why up to now we find no solution as to the mastermind of Ninoy’s killing. The truth however could be that those who are trying to hide the truth by way of not having taken action when in power could be at the top of it. God save the Philippines.

  25. Ayyy nakuuuu Bayan! on

    Ninoy was such an indecent man…marami lang ang nauto at nagpagamit! Diyan mana ang anak, kitang kita! Walang trace na di niya anak si Noynoy, mga inutil at mang-gagamit. Look at Kris and ALL their siblings aside from Viel. Viel appears to be decent and prudent.

  26. Your column is interesting to read because it brought me back of my youth wearing a T-shirt blaring a ” bangon kauring alipin” slogan.I dream of becoming a journalist ,martial law ended that dream but became a capitalist.The respected senator Jovy Salonga nearly got killed in the plaza Miranda bombing, writing in his memoirs he believed the confessions of the communist grenade thrower and blamed Joma Sison as the mastermind. As a Mao copy cat he believes that this will fragment the ruling elite and align themselves with the revolutionaries. But I know that Marcos is not stupid to order the decimation of the center of opposition power described by Bono Adaza. Senator Salonga is silent regarding the role of Ninoy. Ninoy’s absence in the blasted opposition rally is a nagging question that pesters over time. I look forward to reading your narrative regarding this.

  27. Congratulations for your courage and thank you for telling the truth about Ninoy Aquino. He was no hero and was an enemy of the State. His assassination on August 21,1983 was no accident. It was karma for the crime he conspired to commit on the same day in August twelve years earlier. The “hero” of the Yellow horde was a great hypocrite and criminal.

    • i think its not karma. he planned it as what his friend say. why did he know when he will going to die, how he was going to die and where he will die.

  28. “Only then was I told by Ka Willy, head of the National Trade Union Bureau to whom I turned over the explosive, as a matter of side talk, that the grenade came from Ninoy.”

    In another incident in 1971, Philippine Free Press interviewed Ninoy after the August 21 Plaza Miranda bombing. Ninoy said, “We were bombed in Plaza Miranda. We were almost wiped out. And this is now the very reason being used by Mr. Marcos to gag us or put us in his stockades.”

    Kung magsalita si Ninoy, akala mo ay nandun siya sa Plaza Miranda noong bombahin ito, at akala mo ay isa siya sa mga biktima ng bombing. Iyon pala ay alam niya ang planong bombahin ang Plaza Miranda, kaya pala wala siya sa very important event ng Liberal Party’s proclamation rally.

    Pagkatapos nung binisita ni Imelda Marcos si Ninoy sa America, dine-deny pa ni Ninoy ang involvement niya sa series of bombings sa Metro Manila noong early 1980’s.

    Paano hindi magdududa ang gobyerno na involved si Ninoy, may history na pala siya na involved siya sa destabilization plots against the government and the economy. Siya pa ngayon ang naging hero.

  29. Oh my God ganyan ba kadesperado si Ninoy Aquino to destroy Marcos? Even to the extent of killing many people? And we call him a Hero? The Filipinos are insane to call that evil man a hero.

    • Kung sino man ang susunod na magiging Presidente ay dapat investigahan si Jose Ma. Sison upang malaman ang tunay na papel ni Ninoy Aquino sa Plaza Miranda bombing. Huwag hayaan si Joma na tuloy ang pamamayagpag sa The Netherlands na patuloy na naghahasik ng katampalasanan sa lipunan na ginagampanan ng kanyang mga sundalong kanin na NPA. Hanggat ang mga Pangulo natin ay walang pangil na si Joma ay puspusang usigin –si Cory ang nagpahintulot na palayain si Joma– ay ang kasaysayan gustong ipanatili ni Pnoy sa isip mga pinoy ay ang kanyang mga magulang ang dakila o bayani at si Pres. Ferdinand Marcos ang salarin.

    • oh wait and a Jesuit priest wants to elect Cory to sainthood….. jaws dropped to the floor