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Ninoy & Noynoy: ‘Just like Dad, Noy was born to be in public service’

By JOANNE RAE M. RAMIREZ, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 13, 2021 6:00 am

On Aug. 21, the country will mark the martyrdom of Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., whose assassination on Aug. 21, 1983 sparked the restoration of democracy in the Philippines, which, despite its flaws, we continue to enjoy today.

“He was the sun around which we all orbited,” said Ninoy’s only son and namesake, then PresidentBenigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, when I interviewed him at Malacañang Palace in 2013, 30 years after his father’s death at the tarmac.

This year, Noynoy rests with Ninoy at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, with his motherCorybeside them both.

The tomb of Noynoy Aquino at Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque

During the 40thday Novena Mass for Noynoy, who succumbed to renal disease last June 24 at the age of 61, his sisterPinky Abelladagave her only brother a poignant tribute, titled: Beyond Proud of You.

I am sharing excerpts of her tribute to Noynoy here as the 38th death anniversary of their father Ninoy approaches.

“Please embrace Mom and Dad for all of us,” Pinky asked of Noynoy.

Noy was born a little over two years after me, the only boy in a family of five children. If he was not at our neighbor’s house where there were three boys around his age, Noy would usually play withVielor me.I mostly remember our petty little fights from our childhood.Thank goodness Noy was forbidden by Dad to hit the girls, and because he outgrew me early on, this rule spared me from serious aches during bigger fights.

I remember Ate attended one of those meetings where Noy was being pressured to run and she heard Noy ask the group: Wala na bang ibang option? Ate said she looked at his face and awang-awa siya kay Noy.  

Noy entered politics in 1998.During his first political run as Congressman of Tarlac’s second district, Noy was relatively unknown. He was also quite shy for a politician. After Noy won, I told him: Isang lifetimeang utang mo sa akin dahil sa lahat ng pagod ko sa pag-kampanya. Tuwang-tuwa ang mga boss niya sa Tarlac kaya hindi na kami kinailangan mangampanya nung ikalawa at ikatlong termino nya.

Father and son in their home in Boston during the former’s self exile. Photo courtesy of the Aquino family

Just like Dad, Noy was born to be in public service. In 2007, he ran for the Senate. This was a tough battle since this was a midterm election and he was in the opposition.

Nung nanalo siya sa pagka-senador, sabi ko sa kanya: Naku, may dagdag na dalawang lifetimepa ang utang mo sa akin!

When Mom left us in 2009,suddenly people were looking at Noy to run for the presidency.I remember Ate attended one of those meetings where Noy was being pressured to run and she heard Noy ask the group: Wala na bang ibang option?Ate said she looked at his face and awang-awa siya kay Noy.

Noynoy Aquino announces his candidacy as president in 2010. Photo by Ted Aljibe/ AFP

Two and a half years after Dad was killed, Mom was being pressured to run. We begged her not to run as we feared losing our remaining parent. Mom told us she had made the decision to run and she would never be able to forgive herself if there was something she could have done to help the country and did not do it.

This time, we had just lost Mom and we were hoping to grieve quietly and privately.We tried our best to convince Noy not to run, but, just like Mom, his mind was made up. Noy was a man for others, a born public servant.He must have felt he could do something to make our country better.Just like Mom, he could not turn his back.So, 40 days after Mom passed on, we started working on a national campaign, this time without our rock… Mom.

Mourners crowd the cortege of former Philippine president Corazon Aquino. AFP Photo/Nat Garcia

I look back at Noy’s six years and I tell myself the job of a good president is almost inhuman.There would be multiple problems daily, always affecting so many of our countrymen.Typhoons, earthquakes, viruses, sieges, and many more.

In Noy’s case, he took everything very seriously. When Bohol had a strong earthquake, he was there to comfort the victims and to monitor the rescueand relief efforts.He slept in a tent since there were several aftershocks.When there was a siege in Zamboanga, he spent several nights in a camp there. He felt that if he was in the area, movement would be quicker.If there was a typhoon, he needed to be updated 24/7 so that he could ensure that relief goods would immediately be sent. He wanted to be constantly informed and he did his homework.

Noy, be assured, that from hereon, all of us who cherish you, carry on with the peace of your loving memory, the dignity of your solid spirit, and the example of your life that was meaningful and truly well lived in service, not of one’s self, but of the other. 

Kung may biyahe sya sa ibang bansa, dapat walang araw na inaaksaya, walang side trips.Sabi niya, pera ng bayan ang ginagamit kaya hindi puede siyang sayangin.

It is no secret how some current government officials praised PNoy for the good things they inherited.To date, PNoy has the highest average GDP in recent history, and the Philippines was Asia’s Rising Tiger during his term.

Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Victoria Elisa Aquino-Dee, Pinky Aquino Abellada and Kris Aquino confirm Noynoy's death to the media. Photo by Michael Varcas

When Noy got sick, he would ask some of his doctors not to tell us everything… again, he didn’t want us to worry. How could we NOT know what was happening? Maybe now Noy knows, we did get the reports and updates during his final months. We tried to look okay in front of him but desperately sought support from one another when our world was crashing.

Noy, nasabi ko sa iyo na madami kang utang sa akin dahil sa lahat ng pagkampanya, hirap at pagod ko para sa iyo.Noy, nung natapos ang termino mo bilang Pangulo, binura ko na iyang utang mo sa akin.Nakita ko kung paano mo binigay ang lahat ng kaya mo para umunlad ang ating bansa at gumanda ang buhay ng mga boss mo.Bayad na bayad ka na at may sobra pa nga.

Nung pinayagan na kaming pumasok sa ER ng Capitol Medical Center para magpaalam sa iyo, gulong-gulo ang utak ko noon. Naghalo sobrang lungkot at gulat. Pero nung nakita ko ang mukha mo, para ka lang natutulog nang mahimbing. Ginusto mo kaming iwan nang tulog ang karamihan. Hanggang sa dulo, ayaw mong mang-abala ng tao.

Noy, it has been 40 days since you left us, I miss you so much… Honestly, we all miss you and we are just putting up a brave front.

Somehow visiting you at Manila Memorial brings a little comfort as I imagine you, Dad, and Mom enjoying each other’s company and our parents being immensely proud of all that you have accomplished.

Noy, I cannot say this enough: Salamat. Salamat sa ipinakita mong pagmamahal, pagkalinga, at proteksyong ibinigay mo sa iyong pamilya hanggang sa iyong huling hininga. Salamat, dahil ikaw ang nagpatotoo, gaya ng Mom at Dad, naniwala kang the Filipino is worth dying for, the Filipino is worth living for, and the Filipino is definitely worth fighting for.

Noy, be assured, that from hereon, all of us who cherish you, carry on with the peace of your loving memory, the dignity of your solid spirit, and the example of your life that was meaningful and truly well lived in service, not of one’s self, but of the other.

Noy,I am truly beyond proud of you. I love you. And I thank the Lord for the great blessing of having had you in our lives — na minsan may isang Noynoy Aquino na nagpakita sa ating lahat kung paano maging mabuting tao, isang mabuting Pilipino. Please embrace Mom and Dad for all of us.