In Memory of Ninoy…
Due to my very busy schedule and all the deadlines I have to meet..I almost forgot what day today is…well, up until I opened the news and saw the numerous tribute everyone was making to the former senator. With the nation singing his praises and paying tribute to Senator Ninoy Aquino’s heroism, courage and his love for country…please allow me to pay tribute to the one part of him that many forget and one that even he himself admitted to being lacking but he had never forgotten that amidst all his political responsibilities, duty to his beloved people and a loving husband; he was also…a very, very admirable father.
Let me share with you two letters which Ninoy sent to his children. The first was sent to his eldest daughter Ballsy on her 18th birthday while he was in prison in Fort Bonifacio; and the second one was his letter to his only son Noynoy Aquino. My tears kept pouring, I couldn’t help it…
August 18, 1973
Ms. Maria Elena C. Aquino
25 Times St. Quezon City
My dearest Ballsy,
I write you this letter with tears in my eyes and as if steel fingers are crushing my heart because I wanted so much to be with you as you celebrate your legal emancipation. Now that you have come of age, my love, a voice tells me that I am no longer young and suddenly, I feel old.
An old poet gave this advice very long ago “when you are sad, remember the roses will bloom in December.” I want to send you bouquet of roses, big red roses from my dreamland garden. Unfortunately for the present, my roses are not in bloom, in fact they have dropped all their petals and only the thorns are left to keep me company. I do think it is fitting to send you a thicket of thorns on this memorable day!
I am very proud of you because you have inherited all the best traits of your mother. You are sensible, responsible, even-tempered and sincere with the least pretenses and affection which vehemently detest in a woman. I am sure like your mother, you will possess that rare brand of silent courage and that combination of fidelity and fortitude that will be the life vest of your man in the tragic moments of his life.
During my lonely hours of solitary confinement in FortMagsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija last March and April with nothing else to do but pray and daydream, with only my fond memories to keep me company, I planned a weekend barrio fiesta for you in Tarlac for your 18th birthday. I fooled myself into believing that my ordeal would end with the fiscal year. I planned to invite all your classmates and friends and their families for the weekends.
The schedule called for an early departure by bus from Manila and the first stop will be Concepcion , where lunch will be served by the pool. And after lunch, you were to visit the Santa RitaElementary School to distribute cookies and ice cream to the children of that public school where you were first enrolled.
I guess sheer nostalgia prompted me to include Santa Rita. We were only three then: Mommie, you and I. Those were the days of happy memories little responsibilities, tremendous freedom, a great future ahead and capped by a fulfillment of love. You are the first fruit of our union, the first proof of our love and the first seal of our affections.
From Concepcion we were to proceed to Luisita for the barrio fiesta. I intended to invite a friend who could roast an entire cow succulently. Swimming, pelota, dancing and eating would have been the order of the day.
Sunday morning was reserved for a trip around the Hacienda and the mill and maybe golf for some of the parents and later a picnic-lunch on Uncle Tony’s Island . Return to Manila after lunch. I am afraid this will have to remain as one of the many dreams I had in Laur.
Our future has suddenly become uncertain and our fate unknown. I am even now beginning to doubt whether I’ll ever be able to return to you and the family. Hence, I would like to ask you these special favors.
Love your mother, whose love for you, you will never be able to match. She is not the greatest mother in the world, she is your sincerest friend.
Take care of your younger sisters and brother and lavish them with the love and care I would like to continue giving them but am unable to do so.
Help Noy-noy along and pray hard that he will grow to be a real, responsible man who in later years will protect you all.
You are the model for your three younger sisters. Your responsibility is therefore great. Please endeavor to live up to our highest expectations. Be more tolerant to Pinky, more accessible to Viel, our little genius-princess, and more charitable to Krissy, our baby doll, and make up for my neglect.
Finally, forgive me, my love, for not having been an ideal, good and thoughtful father to you all as I pursued public office. I had hopes and high resolve of making up, but I am afraid my destiny will not oblige.
I seal this letter with a drop of tear and a prayer in my heart, that somehow, somewhere we shall meet again and I will finally be able to make up for all my lapses, in the kingdom where justice reigns supreme and love is eternal.
I love you,
My dearest Son:
One of these days , when you have completed your studies I am sure you will have the opportunity to visit many countries. And in your travels you will witness a bullfight.
In Spanish bullfighting as you know, a man – the matador – is pitted against an angry bull.
The man goads the bull to extreme anger and madness. Then a moment comes when the bull, maddened, bleeding and covered with darts, feeling his last moment has come, stops rushing about and grimly turns his face on the man with the scarlet “muleta” and sword. The Spaniards call this “the moment of truth.” This is the climax of the bullfight.
This afternoon, I have arrived at my own moment of truth. After a lengthy conference with my lawyers, Senators Jovito R. Salonga and Lorenzo M. Tanada I made a very crucial and vital decision that will surely affect all our lives: mommie’s, your sisters’, yours and all our loved ones as well as mine.
I have decided not to participate in the proceedings of the Military Commission assigned to try the charges filed against me by the army prosecution staff. As you know, I’ve been charged with illegal possession of firearms, violation of RA 1700 otherwise known as the “Anti-Subversion Act” and murder.
You are still too young to grasp the full impact of my decision. Briefly: by not participating in the proceedings, I will not be represented by counsel, the prosecution will present its witnesses without any cross examinations, I will not put up any defense, I will remain passive and quiet through the entire trial and I will merely await the verdict. Inasmuch as it will be a completely one-sided affair, I suppose it is reasonable to expect the maximum penalty will be given to me. I expect to be sentenced to imprisonment the rest of my natural life, or possibly be sent to stand before a firing squad. By adopting the course of action I decided upon this afternoon, I have literally decided to walk into the very jaws of death.
You may ask: why did you do it?
Son, my decision is an act of conscience. It is an act of protest against the structures of injustice that have been imposed upon our hapless countrymen. Futile and puny, as it will surely appear to many, it is my last act of defiance against tyranny and dictatorship.
You are my only son. You carry my name and the name of my father. I have no material wealth to leave you. I never had time to make money while I was in the hire of our people.
For this I am very sorry. I had hopes of building a little nest egg for you. I bought a ranch in Masbate in the hope that after ten or fifteen years, the coconut trees I planted there would be yielding enough to assure you a modest but comfortable existence.
Unfortunately, I had to sell all our properties as I fought battle after political battle as a beleaguered member of the opposition. And after the last battle, I had more obligations than assets.
The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you now is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now pass it on to you, as good, I pray, as when my father, your grandfather passed it on to me.
I prepared a statement which I intend to read before the military commission on Monday at the opening of my trial. I hope the commission members will be understanding and kind enough to allow me to read my statement into the record. This may well be my first and only participation in the entire proceedings.
In this statement, I said: Some people suggested that I beg for mercy from the present powers that be. Son, this I cannot do in conscience. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live on bended knees in shame.
Your great grandfather, Gen. Servilliano Aquino was twice condemned to death by both the Spaniards and the American colonizers. Fortunately, he survived both by a twist of fate.
Your grandfather, my father was also imprisoned by the Americans because he loved his people more than the Americans who colonized us. He was finally vindicated. Our ancestors have shared the pains, the sorrows and the anguish of Mother Filipinas when she was in bondage.
It is a rare privilege for me to join the Motherland in the dark dungeon where she was led back by one of her own sons whom she lavished with love and glory.
I ended my statement thus: I have chosen to follow my conscience and accept the tyrant’s revenge.
It takes little effort to stop a tyrant. I have no doubt in the ultimate victory of right over wrong, of evil over good, in the awakening of the Filipino.
Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the great responsibility for our family. I trust you will love your mother and your sisters and lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them.
I was barely fifteen years old when my father died. His death was my most traumatic experience. I loved and hero-worshipped him so much, I wanted to join him in his grave when he passed away. But as in all sorrows, eventually they are washed away by the rains of time.
In the coming years, I hope you will study very hard so that you will have a solid foundation on which to build your future. I may no longer be around to give you my fatherly advice. I have asked many of your uncles to help you along should the need arise and I pray you will have the humility to drink from their fountain of experiences.
Look after your two younger sisters with understanding and affection. Viel and Krissy will need your umbrella of protection for a long time. Krissy is still very young and fate has been most unkind to both of us. Our parting came too soon. Please make up for me. Take care of her as I would have taken care of her with patience and warm affection.
Finally, stand by your mother as she stood beside me through the buffeting winds of crisis and uncertainties firm and resolute and uncowed. I pray to God, you inherit her indomitable spirit and her rare brand of silent courage.
I had hopes of introducing you to my friends, showing you the world and guide you through the maze of survival. I am afraid, you will now have to go it alone without your guide.
The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience.
There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.
Son, the ball is now in your hands.