Three decades later, we remember Ninoy

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Today, August 21, should have been a day to remember the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. Unfortunately, any commemoration will have to give way for more important things as the residents of Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces try and survive as best as they can the floods that have swamped large parts of the country.

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Wherever he is in the afterlife, we are sure that the father of the incumbent president would not mind that his life and death will not be recalled this day, despite the milestone 30th anniversary of his death.

Were he and his wife Cory alive today, they would likely do their part in providing succor to the victims of Tropical Depression Maring.

He was a populist politician, after all. He was keenly aware of the pulse of the people and would have done the right thing. No wonder that he remains a true national hero in the hearts of millions of Filipinos.

It was on this day 30 years ago that the popular leader known as Ninoy came home after spending a few years in the US. He had been warned to stay away by no less than the Marcos administration, supposedly because there was a threat on his life. But he would not be denied.

Yellow ribbons adorned countless trees, gates, electric posts and cars to welcome him back. This was because one of his favorite songs was ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.’ Thousands of followers trooped to the airport just to catch a glimpse of their leader.

What should have been a glorious homecoming ended in tragedy after he was shot at the airport of the Manila International Airport. The Marcos regime blamed his assassination on one Rolando Galman, supposedly a communist hitman.

Not even Marcos’s people believed the tall tale. An investigation would later determine that Aquino was actually shot by one of the soldiers assigned to arrest him.

There have been several suspected masterminds, but no one was ever positively identified.

Ninoy Aquino became a larger-than-life persona in death. He inspired a people to defy the Marcos regime. His death would eventually spark what is known today as the Edsa People Power Revolution.

There will be no marches of the Yellow Brigade today. Remnants of the Ninoy Aquino Movement as well as the Justice for Ninoy, Justice for All organizations will have to tone down whatever celebrations they had planned.

Only a handful, if any, are expected to visit his tomb at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City. But only because the main road leading to the park is one of the hardest hit by the floods that have swamped the metropolis.

Still, August 21, 1983 is a day that has become part of modern day Philippine history. Ninoy Aquino may not have become Chief Executive, but his wife and son would both become President of the Philippines.

If only because of this, he has become part hero, and part legend. Decades and even centuries from now, he will not be forgotten.

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