Benigno Aquino Jr. was a former Filipino Senator and one of the main figures that led the opposition against the dictatorial government of Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino was best known for his genuine heroism and patriotism during the dark ages of martial law in the Philippines.
Aquino or simply “Ninoy” to the masses was born on November 27, 1932 in Concepcion, Tarlac to a prominent family of landlords. His father Benigno Aquino Sr. was a known politician who had served various governmental posts including vice president during the Japanese occupation and Secretary of Agriculture under President Manuel Quezon.
Aquino attended several prestigious schools and universities in the Philippines including Ateneo de Manila, De La Salle, San Beda and National University. According to an account of his own autobiography, Aquino admitted that he was just an average student. Hence, Aquino displayed a critical mind and more liberal and open ideas on the most pressing socio-political issues.
At the age of 17, Aquino was the youngest journalist to have covered the Korean war. Because of his remarkable journalistic feats, Aquino was given various citations and awards including the Philippine Legion of Honor award.
In 1954, Aquino, who radiates an ironic aura of combined seriousness and friendliness, was appointed as emissary of then President Ramon Magsaysay to the leftist forces, the Hukbalahap, the military arm of the communist insurgents of the Philippines. The peace negotiations went well and Luis Taruc, the communist revolutionary leader surrendered peacefully.
The next year, in 1955, Aquino at the tender age of 22, was elected as the youngest mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac. The following years saw Aquino’s rise to the upper echelons of Philippine politics. He became the youngest governor in the Philippines in 1961 and later he became the secretary general of the Liberal Party, one of the biggest political parties in the Philippines.
In 1967, Aquino embarked another historic feat, becoming the youngest senator at the age of 34.
During the onset of the martial law in 1972, Aquino was arrested on charges rebellion, murder and illegal possession of firearms. While Aquino was in prison, Marcos started his dictatorial reign in the country. Hence, the sympathy for Aquino grew tenfold.
In 1977, Aquino was sentenced to die by musketry but ever-sly Marcos wouldn’t let him die a martyr’s death.
In 1980, Aquino was allowed to go abroad for heart surgery. He spent three years in the United States, delivering speeches and lectures against the Marcos government.
Aquino, who now has the public’s wholehearted support, flew to Manila, despite threats on his life. Moments before his assassination at the plane he was boarding, he told the journalist and press people accompanying him the short and brief message; “have to be ready with your (hand) camera because this action can become very fast… in a matter of 3 or 4 minutes it could be all over… and I may not be able to talk to you again after this….”
True enough, it was all over in just a matter of minutes. Aquino was shot in the head and immediately died on August 21, 1983. Aquino may have died but his ideals lived and fueled a bloodless revolution against the tyrannical Marcos regime.