For those who want to remember what the “struggle” was like for the man, for those who want to remember a certain point in history, and for those born after he was shot, there is definitely some Ninoy Aquino resources available on YouTube.
The man certainly had a gift for public speaking—he was great at delivering political jokes, he was a great raconteur and when he was serious, he knew how to drive home the point with a strong, firm tone. He knew how to connect with, and engage his audience.
One example of his speeches captured on video and available to the public is the “Freedom Rally Symposium by the Movement for Free Philippines” held at the WilshireEbell Theater, Los Angeles on February 15, 1981.
You realize this was such a long time ago when he says there are 48 million Filipinos. (It’s rather freaky to realize, we’ve doubled that in just 35 years!).
Aquino talked about his incarceration and the incarceration of many other activists of his generation. He talked about being offered a way out—to finally be free of the four walls he was in and finally reunite with his family—so long as he endorses the administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos. But he wouldn’t on those terms.
When asked about what Filipinos in the US can do, he answered one thing would be to “send clippings” back home so Filipinos could read about what was really happening.
In terms of history, this is fairly recent, but in terms of every thing else, it sometimes feels like another world altogether.
These days, I don’t hear of big name politician-activists getting jailed for their subversive ideas. We seem to have freedom of speech to criticize the government and government agencies but at the same time, our journalists are getting killed. When this video was taken, there was one challenge: unseating President Marcos.
Ninoy Aquino focused his speeches on the unlawful incarceration, human rights violations, the curtailment of individual freedoms and Marcos’s desire to remain in power.
Today it seems like there are adversaries everywhere, people don’t know which battles to fight anymore—the LTO can’t give us our driver’s licenses or license plates on time, we have to wait half a year when not too long ago, we were getting these on the spot. Public transportation is in shambles—it is far from safe, efficient or enough. Traffic has gotten worse, crimes appear to go unpunished, and our bureaucracy slows every thing down.
People have also been doing the job of the government on so many occasions: when there is calamity—out come the volunteers and the private sector to get the goods out sans bureaucracy, when someone needs hospitalization, people contribute.
Instead of having heroes to pin our hopes to, we have “villains” we want to avoid. People are probably too suspicious, hungry or tired to try “People Power” again. On one hand, there’s knowing each individual is and should be part of the positive change and on the other, we also see the need for one leader for the Philippines to rally around.
It just makes you wonder, how things got this way in the 34 years since Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. It also makes you wonder, how that Philippines in the alternate universe, had Ninoy Aquino become president.