Worth dying for? (2)

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, August 16, 2014

AUGUST 21, 1983. Mark this date with a sense of grandeur. One man died and the apocalyptic sequences in politics happened in this country; another man of grit with a conscience asked himself why do I kill or order for the killing of the other man. Sometimes history is panic-stricken and accepts pseudoscience.

Ninoy and company boarded China Airlines Flight 811, bound for Manila. It was last leg of Ninoy's memorable journey home. Some passengers in the plane recognized him and some probably saw a halo on top of his head. There was less turbulence in that flight and no one knew that Ninoy (and those who believed in his cause) was into the storm.

The scene in Manila was like a fiesta. Busloads of Ninoy's supporters jammed the airport like the early birds. Word was spreading like wild fire that the former bombastic senator was arriving. (In his political days as senator, whenever he would deliver a speech in the Senate or in any gathering, he could always be compared to an exploding bomb. Marcos and his associates would always be hit by fragments of the bomb.)


The day appeared to look like a giant homecoming. (Indeed, a giant is coming!) The charming lady, Aurora Aquino (the mother of Ninoy), was there to lead the group to tie a yellow ribbon around trees, posts, in the cars, buses, jeeps, and the fans wear yellow head bands and arm bands. Many were wearing yellow t-shirts and before China Airlines Flight 811 landed, the airport was already looking like a pond of yellow lilies.

Anywhere one could hear the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree." This is the song about the return of a freed prisoner... and Ninoy is a freed prisoner! On board the plane, Ninoy was quite calm (the lull before the storm). He was interviewed and at times chatting with fellow passengers. He had his apprehensions on what would be the scenario upon his arrival. He could be arrested and sent to jail or he could not even go out of the plane.

He was also expecting for the worst. He slipped on a bullet-proof vest and joked, "If they hit me in the head, I'm a goner." The touched down happened at about one o'clock in the afternoon. The Manila International Airport was full of people with varied intentions. The plane taxied to Gate 8 where Avsecom (Aviation Security Command) personnel were positioning.

Three entered the plane... a constabulary and two Avsecom guards. They were looking for Ninoy. One Avsecom guard recognized Ninoy. It was very dramatic as they took the senator's hand and escorted him out of the plane. Japanese media men followed with their cameras rolling. There was some kind of a cut in the route.

At the tunnel leading to the main terminal, there were more constabulary and Avsecom forces. The escorts of Ninoy did not take him to the jet way, they passed through a side door. There was some kind of SOP because the camera men who followed him were stopped. Suddenly a shot rang out . . . then a fusillade of gunfire (just like what we see in techno-thriller movie). Sen. Benigno Aquino had been shot. That was emotive and quite affecting.

Political words came in. The Marcos spokesmen said that the assassin was a lone gunman Rolando Galman. No Filipino believed that story. Galman was long dead before Aquino was shot. He was just a fall guy. (That was the belief of the emotional Filipinos who just recovered from their "psychogenic amnesia".)

The murder of the man "who would be president" opened the claws of the Filipinos. There were outright volcanic eruptions (extreme grief and rage). We were there. I was there. Many were there in the streets to mourn, to march, and curse the government in sympathy (and love) to the man who said, "The Filipino is worth dying for."

"The people worth dying for" are now alive. They are combative and ready to fight for a cause. (Up to now we are still fighting for a cause. We hope we understand what we are fighting for.)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 16, 2014.


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