it was impossible not to weep as i watched the retelling of ninoy’s life and death by the docu Beyond Conspiracy: 25 Years after the Aquino Assassination courtesy of the Foundation for WorldWide People Power. impossible because i so remember those days.
i was 23 when marcos declared martial law and i remember ninoy aquino before that, the chubby bespectacled senator who was the fastest talker and the most fearless and most ardent critic of marcos. and i remember those news photos of a thin Ninoy through the military trial and the hunger strike,and that one time he was allowed to speak out on television — when the streets of manila were empty because everyone was indoors watching and listening to the last man standing, painfully lean, and, to me, painfully sexy, in his hunger for justice and freedom.
i remember feeling abandoned when his heart failed and he flew off to america for treatment, and three years later exulting when he announced that he was coming home, tie a yellow ribbon ’round that ol’ tree, it’s been three long years, do you still want me… and i remember that fateful sunday afternoon, how my heart sank when i heard that he had been killed, and how i wept for cory and kids and country.
but the second half of the docu left me cold. i suppose okey lang for young viewers hearing the story of the assassination and the trials and witnesses for the first time; otherwise it told me nothing new, except maybe for some trivia. to my mind the big question, i mean, the big story, is no longer who ordered ninoy killed, rather, why aren’t these masterminds in jail? because blood, or maybe even just class, is thicker?
hindi rin lang ito kayang itanong o sagutin, sana iba na lang ang tinutukan, such as ninoy’s politics, on which subject there is ample material. then maybe the kids’ iamninoy campaign would have some ground to stand on other than faithhopeandcharity.
in his goodbye statement to the house of representatives of the u.s. congress in 1983 ninoy spoke of a “program of action” that he drafted during his three years in exile which he intendedto take up with the leaders of the non-violent opposition at home, hopefully to end the bloodletting and set the economy right. nothing has been heard about this program of action since. but the book Testament from a Prison Cell published by cory in 1984 has a wealth of information about the man and his politics.
This book is Ninoy’s ‘closing statement’ before Military Commission No. 2.
Ninoy started working on his ‘closing statement’ in 1975 and he finished it in 1977. Although many believed that the charges against him were fabricated, still Ninoy believed he should present his side to the Filipino people.
Ninoy was determined that this book should reach his people and so my children and I smuggled out the manuscript, page by page. He instructed me to furnish the international press with copies of his statement. Perhaps he had a premonition. As it turned out, the Military Commission prevented Ninoy from reading his ‘closing statement’ by keeping him locked up in his cell during the last vital eight hours of the proceedings.
I cannot help but point out the striking parallel between Ninoy’s closing statement before the tribunal that condemned him to death on November 25, 1977, and his ‘arrival statement’ for August 21, 1983. In both instances Ninoy was stopped from reading them.
Allow me then to present to you, the Filipino people, Ninoy’s testament.
coming next are selected excerpts from Testament:
Three Generations… “I am Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., 45, Filipino, married, father of five…”
The Filipino As Dissident… “In 1954, when I first established contact with Huk Supremo Luis M. Taruc…”
A Christian Democratic Vision… “As I delved deeper into the underlying reasons behind our chronic insurgency problem…”
Manifesto For A Free Society… “In the most unequivocal terms, not a few communist leaders have told me that there is no room for politicians in the CPP/NPA set-up…”