Thursday, August 21, 2003

Fight for the future

The workweek comes to an end this afternoon, thanks to the martyred Ninoy Aquino who at least didn't have to see his youngest daughter grow up to be a garrulous unwed mother-cum-gossip show host-cum-liposuction client. Twenty years ago he died. Twenty years since I helped my father rain confetti down Ayala Avenue during various rallies and then his much-attended funeral.

Ninoy Aquino was a brilliant man. I was only 7 when he died but I felt the impact because my parents totally followed his career and constantly extolled his virtues. They thought that he would be the one to drag the country from the mire in which it seemed to have settled and was still sinking. But that was not to be the case. A still-unknown gunman took his life twenty years ago today.

My father has a picture with Ninoy Aquino, with Ninoy's arm around his shoulder. I keep it in my room, telling myself to have it blown-up and framed one day. My father used to work for the Cojuangcos, the family of Ninoy's wife. But ten years from now, I feel that noone will see the significance of that picture anymore than they remember that so many years ago, a dictator declared martial law and rounded up political prisoners left and right, some of them never again seeing the light of day. The Marcoses were said to have plundered millions of dollars' worth of government money and it took three years after the martyrdom of their staunch opponent Aquino for the People Power revolution to take place and install Ninoy's widow Cory to the Presidency.

Our country still hasn't recovered. Maybe if Ninoy had been President. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I can't say that it really would have been much better if he had lived, it's all maybes. Why celebrate something that happened so many years ago? It's all in the past anyway. Why celebrate, then? If only to give us inspiration. One man fought the good fight and died for his principles. We don't have to die to make a difference but the question is, do we even want to make a difference? I remember that a long time ago, I did. I don't know if it will take the 20th anniversary of a hero's death to reawaken those principles but it won't hurt. Today is an important day, if only to remember that there have been people, Benigno S. Aquino Jr. in particular, who so strongly felt for this country that most of us are dying to leave.

So, today I remember Ninoy Aquino, Edgar Jopson, Lorena Barrios, Lean Alejandro... my generation caught a glimpse of them and their heroic stance. Could we have imbibed nothing? Were their sacrifices all for nought? Will it take a whole new string of martyr deaths to jolt this country and its leaders into veering into the right direction?

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