Ninoy Aquino: Hero or heel?

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“…heroic behavior is to be found in every age and
in all kinds of places. The chief criterion is the
verdict of the public and this, being arbitrary,
eccentric and often irrational (as well as changeable),
gives a salty flavor to the business.”
– Paul Johnson in Heroes From Alexander the Great To Mae West

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PAUL JOHNSON’S definition of a hero is hardly applicable in the Philippines. Why? Because heroes, in this country, are chosen as a result of insidious manipulations by vested elements who are motivated by the interests that they serve.

Otley Beyer’s story on how Rizal became numero uno

Take the case of Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Professor H. Otley Beyer were to be believed, he maintained that Dr. Rizal was voted as the Number One Hero of the Philippines by the American-organized Philippine Commission (PC). His claim, undisputed up to this day, is that the Americans were wondering why the Filipinos did not have a national hero. Perplexed by the absence of a national hero, the PC decided to vote on who should be the Filipino hero who could be the unifying force in the subjugation of the country by the Americans.

As the Beyer’s story goes, the PC voted on who should be the national Filipino hero. From the list of Filipino heroes that the PC had, it chose first Andres Bonifacio. But on close examination of the life of Bonifacio, he could not be the Filipino hero since he was a revolutionary who fought the Spaniards and Americans so the Filipinos could establish their own independent country. So as a revolutionary, he was dropped as the choice since choosing a revolutionary may encourage Filipinos to believe that mounting a revolution against foreign invaders is a right thing to do. Similarly, the second and third choices – General Gregorio del Pilar and General Antonio Luna – were also written off for the same reason.

Finally, the PC chose Dr. Rizal as the Filipinos’ national hero as he was for the integration of the Philippines into Spain, specifically the representation of the Filipinos in the Spanish Cortes – Spain’s legislative assembly. Thus, consistent with PC’s decision, statues of Dr. Rizal were erected in almost all municipal plazas throughout the country and the legends about him in history books and biographies.

A cursory look at the lives of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio will lead any intelligent and rational Filipino who has studied the history of other countries and our history to hold that the honor of being the Number One Filipino should go to Andres Bonifacio – the great revolutionary, and even a greater Filipino.

Conversation with President Carlos P. Garcia

Apropos this subject, in a conversation with President Carlos P. Garcia in Malacañang–when I was fighting for academic freedom and to retain my hard-earned diploma at the University of the Philippines and the UP authorities were waging a war against me in Philippine media because I was anti-Rizal–President Garcia told me the following: “You know Homobono, I agree with you on your judgment on Andres Bonifacio and Rizal, but I advice you to keep silent on this because even  as you are right, it is difficult to fight a dead hero.” Sheepishly I replied, ”Yes, Mr. President, but I am not fighting anyone. I am only stating my choice on who should be our Number One Hero.”

My conversation with President Garcia, in the presence of my late father – Mayor Pedro Adaza, Jr. of Catarman, Camiguin (then a part of Misamis Oriental) – was the headline of the Manila Times and a frontpage item in the other Manila dailies. It did not document the specific conversation – all the dailies mentioned is that President Garcia lectured me, which of course he did not. President Garcia who is probably the most nationalistic among Philippine presidents having started and pursued with enthusiasm and great intensity the Filipino First Policy, knowing me and my cause never attempted to give me a lecture on any subject. But of course, media could not publish that President Garcia agreed with me in my choice of the Filipino hero – Andres Bonifacio.

Ninoy Aquino – as Moses?

Why this reflection on the appropriate choice of the Filipino hero? It’s all due to the stories in the front pages of the Manila media very recently that Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., the father of the sitting President Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr., popularly known as PNoy not Balut, has been recommended to be considered as the Moses of the Philippines, the savior of the country.

With all due respect to Ninoy, this thing about Moses is a lot of nonsense. Examining the role of Ninoy in taking the Filipinos from out of the darkness of martial law, these events come to mind.

When martial law was declared, Senator Ninoy Aquino had the boldness to declare that martial law could not last for a year because the people would revolt against it. Martial law lasted for nine years. It was a serious mistake of judgment of Ninoy and anyone who knew the Filipino at that point in time would have clearly disagreed with Ninoy. It is obvious that Ninoy in arriving at that conclusion he did not know the Filipino and he had not read very well Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

In 1981 when Senator Salvador “Doy” Laurel and I met with Ninoy in Lupita Kashihawara’s residence at Ocean Point in California several interesting events happened. First, Ninoy told Doy and me that he was tired of politics and all he wanted to see was President Ferdinand Marcos  defeated and then he would go back to the academe.

Disturbed by this comment, Doy who is a fraternity brother of Ninoy in the Upsilon Sigma Phi at the University of the Philippines, commented, ”But brod, who then would be the leader of our country if you are going back to the academe?”

Without batting an eyelash, Ninoy replied, “Who else, the two of you.” Doy smiled from ear to ear at being anointed by Ninoy.

Suddenly Lupita, as if on a cue, called Doy from the first floor of her residence, saying,
“Doy, you have a phone call here.” And Doy went down immediately to the first floor. As soon as Doy left, Ninoy asked me, “Are you going to the State Department with Doy?”
“Of course since he was the one who invited me on this trip,” I replied.

“You better go there alone because I have a message for you to bring to those people,” Ninoy continued.

“What is the message?” I asked.

“You know, when I came to this country this time, they called me almost every fifteen minutes. Now, they have not called me for the last fifteen days. So tell them that I am your leader.” So I broke into a faint a smile, amused at the sudden change of mind of Ninoy, from returning to the academe and again becoming the leader.

Noting my amusement, he exclaimed, “At least in the United States.” Then, he wrote down in his yellow pad, telling me, “You know, these our possible candidates for President in the coming elections. Macapagal and Tanada, they are too old. Gerry Roxas, he is moribund.
Jovy Salonga, he is sickly. Pepe Diokno, he is a loner. Doy Laurel, he is not the best of the lot but he is the only one we’ve got.”

Then, Atty. Ernesto “Ernie” Maceda arrived and Doy came back from the ground floor of Lupita’s residence. Ernie told Ninoy, “Boss, Mike Tamano is waiting for you downtown because he has a breakfast appointment with you.”

“Ok Ernie, you take your cup of coffee and then join Mike and keep him company as I have still to talk to these guys,” Ninoy replied, pointing to Doy and me. As soon as Ernie finished his cup of coffee, he went down and I was surprised because Ninoy went to the window facing the parking lot and I followed him. He was looking at Ernie going to his car and driving away. Immediately, he went back to the table where Doy was seated.
Then, Doy asked Ninoy, “Brod, why did you send Ernie away?”

“Brod, you can never trust Ernie with secrets,” Ninoy retorted.

“But he is always at your side wherever you go here?” Doy asked Ninoy again.

“Yes brod, because Ernie is only the one here who can read the mind of Marcos. But with respect to secrets, brod you can never trust Ernie with secrets,” Ninoy replied.

Why do I relate these stories? Because these conversations, reveal the character of the man! There are more stories on Ninoy so you can make your judgment whether Ninoy is hero or heel. My next column will tell these stories and my judgment on Ninoy, if you are interested.

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24 Comments

  1. I fight for freedom we all fight for freedom. Will we die for freedom? We will cudgel on our lives in poverty and misery and then die. Not go to the states because we can afford it then die.

  2. When Cory took over, the only good thing that has happened was the restoration of the press freedom and nothing more. Graft and corruption got worse and rate of poverty has increased. They made Ninoy a hero, and now Cory to be a saint?! My God, please enough of these stupidity and insanity!

  3. Roldan Guerrero on

    I was very young when I heard about Ferdinand Marcos and Benigno Aquino. During those times, FM was the protagonist of Philippine politics, and I will never forget some of his notable accomplishments of bringing electricity on our remote barangay located at the topmost portion of the archipelago. The other one he brought in my poor town was the so called Marcos Buildings that modernized the elementary school I graduated which used to have aging school buildings built by the Americans after WW2. Another protagonist was rising, whose name is Ninoy Aquino, elected as the Phils. youngest Senator as a result of his bravery of covering the Korean War as a correspondent of a Big Newspaper which later took charge of boosting his media exposure, until now that Newspaper giant continues to make propagandas, propagandas I dont know if real or fiction that kept the clan very popular up to these days. I did not see any landmark accomplishment done by Ninoy Aquino, I only knew him as a very vocal oppositionist of Marcos, who was leaning with the left with an impossible objective…so obcessed to become Marcos` successor. I also dont forget that he was suspected as behind the the Plaza Miranda Bombing, which was so obvious because he was not there while he should be one of the keynote speakers. Sen. Salonga was badly injured in that accident. Marcos declared Martial Law for many reasons, but one reason is essential, Ninoy Aquino who has widened his ties with Joma Sison. Ninoy continued his campaign against Marcos, making so much instabilities to the country, until he was sentenced to die in the firing squad which never happened since Marcos himself fascilitated his entry to the US including his family. Although Aquino continued to continued to demonish him, Marcos never considered Ninoy a threat to him. According to reliable sources, Marcos provided everything for Ninoy and his family while in America. Beacause Ninoy could no longer stay in America because he was discovered having ties with the communists, a thing America hates so much, He was forced to go back to the Phils. using another name, where he was killed and that ended his impossible dream of becoming Marcos` successor. Marcos stayed too long in power and that was his gravest mistake. Every leader who has a vision for his country can always do many benefits for the country and its people and that is very significant to Marcos.However his prolonged stay in power, which later he became sickly such that he can no longer control his men who also had their own ambitions and personal adgendas…..that resulted to his downfall. Cory Aquino came to power….and now the son…we know what they have done…..You also know if Ninoy Aquino is a hero or heel.

  4. Amnata Pundit on

    Dito pa lang kita mo na an pagka-DOBLE KARA ng dakilang bayani ng mga dilaw. Kung ang sinungaling kapatid ng magnanakaw, samakatuwid ang doble kara kapatid ng sinungaling. Kaya tama si Marcos nung tinawag niya si Ninoy na CONGENITAL LIAR.

  5. F.Marcos had more heroic action than B.Aquino. As Mr. Adaza said it is the result of insidious manipulations by vested elements.

  6. ninoy was a hero because he was killed for standing for freedom. that is the only reason and everything other than that is nonsense.

  7. An opportunist, Ninoy is. A master of manipulation, Ninoy is. A hero? He is not.

    A great majority of the Filipinos are simply part of the mob that takes the whole line and sinker of what is fed to them by the “inventors of history” that so far has proven to be extremely profitable…

    Ergo, there is a twisted truth in “Ninyo, hindi ka nagiisa.” Mas dumami pa ang mga oportunista at manipulador sa hanay ng pangkasalukuyang pamunuan.

  8. Unmasking who ordered his assassination and what was the motive will surely reveal whether he is hero or a heel. If it was Marcos, the motive might be to prevent the communist takeover; if it was the CIA, again the same motive is like Marcos’ motive plus preventing a protracted civil war; if it was Danding, the reason might be business domination and family rivalry. If we liked the communist ideology, then he is a hero. If we are one of Ninoy’s family kins, then he us our hero.

    • Because F.Marcos touch the business of Lopezes, and others, ABS-CBN waged war to bring Marcos name to shame. I hope Mr. Adaza will lighten us who and why B.Aquino knew that he will be killed and killing him will will make him a hero.

  9. regardless of the critics… he may not be a hero but he did accomplished more compared to his predecessors. he modernized at least 1/4 of the AFP past presidents did none like FVR who spent most of his time in the military. He ordered crackdown on corrupt officials, not all them were caught yet but few big wigs are in jail now. he increased pay and benefits to the AFP and PNP, he instituted transparency, he improved the economy. now tell who in the past have done this? none. Pnoy is not perfect but he is the lesser of all evils in politics. Now if we want more improvements and prosperity maybe Bong Bong Marcos or Ping Lacson will accomplish it.

  10. My late father, a public school teacher, both a Mathematician and Historian, told me likewise when he was a kid that Andres Bonifacio is the rightful number one hero of the Filipinos. But since it was the American Colonizers that decided who should be honored as the number one national hero, Dr Rizal was chosen on grounds that the author asserted.
    More write up on this hero matters…

  11. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Mr. H. Adaza spill it out and let history be the judge. God bless the Philippines.

  12. “You know, when I came to this country this time, they (people at the State Department) called me (Ninoy) almost every fifteen minutes. Now, they have not called me for the last fifteen days. So tell them that I am your leader.”

    So Ninoy was becoming less important to the US government, and therefore, dispensable. This story jibes with what Kit Tatad wrote last September 25, 2014, entitled “My last talk with Ninoy Aquino.”

    in that column, Kit Tatad wrote that Ninoy was displeased when a BBC film was shown to Kit by a Lewis girl, but not to him. The BBC film showed Sen. Jose W. Diokno narrating stories about the Philippines and some labor problems.

    In that news article, Kit Tatad wrote:

    The next day I told Lewis about this conversation and repeated Ninoy’s
    question to her. Why did she invite me (to watch the film), but not Aquino?

    “Come on, Kit,” she said. “Doesn’t he know he’s already passé?”

  13. I read an article stating that Ninoy was deported from Boston by the governor after FBI found out that the former was organizing communist groups in Boston.

  14. Bono, why don’t you write next what Ninoy said to Sen. Gerry Roxas when both of you visited Gery in his apartment in America?

    Ninoy greeted Sen. Roxas and said how Gerry’s health was improving, but when the two of you left the apartment, Ninoy told you that Gerry was smelling like a flower (meaning, amoy bulaklak ng patay). That speaks of the character of Ninoy, aside from his connection with communist leader Joma Sison, Ka Dante Buscayno, etc.

  15. My father is 83 years old. Did not finish grade school but a smart man. He did not vote for Marcos the first time but he did on his re-election. He never like Ninoy because he always say that he is a traitor and a communist sympathizer. In his simple way of thinking he always said, and wonder how did Ninoy got his passport when he decided to go back to the Philippines if he’s coming home to the Philippines is not well planned by people he is working with. And it really make him mad when ever he hears people say that he is a hero.