Daily Star LogoOpinions


Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, August 22, 2020
Front Page
Star Business
Opinion
Sports
Star Life
People & Events
Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Remembering Ninoy

Ninfa Leonardia

Yesterday was “Ninoy Aquino Day” and to many Filipinos, Benigno Aquino Jr. was as much a hero of the country as Jose Rizal was. The only difference was that, while Rizal knew who had ordered his death and had anticipated it, Ninoy’s REAL killer, or the one who had ordered his assassination at the airport now named after him, has never been charged, much less identified so he or she could face justice. So the actual mastermind in the murder of Ninoy just as he was returning to his beloved country, has never been made to answer for the crime.

***

On this earth, that is. Because, no matter how cleverly those who engineered it may have covered himself, or themselves, they must have met, or will meet, the inexorable judgment awaiting sinners who die. Those old enough to remember that incident, will surely recall the big shock at the news that he had been shot just as he disembarked from the plane that brought him home, which was his decision, against the warnings of friends and kin that his life would be in danger.

***

I know I have written about this right after the incident, and again and again over the years, but my purpose in doing so is to let the younger generations know about the truth, no matter what biased writing may concoct in their own versions of history. And yes, I did know Ninoy Aquino personally, not only during media activities in Manila, but also in his own hometown in Tarlac, where the Philippines Press Institute once held a seminar with Tarlac as host. Ninoy was the perfect host, taking care of us, joining our lecture sessions, and even our socials, or nights out.

***

I remember very clearly that he brought us to a girlie-girlie night club that the boys enjoyed very much. Ed (Eduviges) Gasataya and I were the only girls in the group and we agreed to go, so they would not tease us for being prudes. We sat there quietly, Ed and I while the men clapped and howled at the antics of the performers, when suddenly, Ninoy shouted “Ninfa is praying the rosary!” I could have boxed his ears, as everyone, including the performers laughed at me!

***

But he was the perfect host, accompanying us everywhere, giving us tours of their sugar mills and farms which he mischievously told the others that I must be belittling because I am a Negrense and an hacendera. I didn’t own an inch of sugar land then, my grandparents were still alive and even my father did not have a farm in his name. But what would be the use of arguing with a man who was so articulate, fluent and mischievous? My one regret is that he did not bring us to his home or introduce us to Cory, who later became the president he should have been.

***

I recall very clearly the day of Ninoy’s murder. It was already in the news that he was arriving from the United States where he had been on voluntary exile because of the known antipathy – a mild word, actually – of the Marcoses, towards him. But no one could stop him and everybody wondered what would happen when he landed. Would he be arrested, manacled and jailed in solitary confinement? Well, as everybody now knows, what actually happened was much worse, that perhaps not even he had imagined.

***

At the time his plane was expected to land at the airport now named after him, or the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I was at the office of the late Bishop Antonio Fortich, a regular hangout of media people because he was always quotable as well as hospitable, with two men close to Ninoy, Turing Luzuriaga and Dading Ledesma. Together, we anxiously listened to the radio announcing the landing of the plane and were shocked out of our seats when it was announced that he had been shot as soon as he got down the plane!

***

All four of us were shocked into silence, and then Msgr. Fortich remembered to pray for him, and all we could do was say AMEN. Who could have believe it could happen? And it was what one may call a “perfect crime”, because immediately after he had shot Ninoy, the gunman himself was shot dead! It seemed later as if the entire country was in a state of mourning, except of course, the mastermind(s). As for the people, speculations abounded, but nobody declared who they could be. Nobody wanted to be the next victim you see.

***

Let’s stop being morbid and go on to more inspiring subjects, like the big amount being given to the Department of Tourism to enable it to draw more visitors who will bring their dollars to help our economy. But the problem is, who are the foreigners who will want to travel now with this pandemic still in control of so many countries? Yes, there are hopeful reports about vaccines and cures being concocted by some countries, but as the old saying went, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. So let us all pray that such cure or vaccine get perfected before the pandemic has done its worst.*

back to top

   
  Email: visayandailystar@yahoo.com