The Day Senator Benigno “ Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Died

Cultural Notes

August 21, 2016

The Day Senator Benigno “ Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Died

Arturo P. Garcia 14034942_1016543168463351_3545627473911353615_n

Thirty three years ago, today on August 21, 1983 , we were on our way to Manila to report to our mother press organization.

On, a long travel, as usual, I was glued on my little transistor radio listening to the news. All morning, Radio Veritas was reporting on the arrival of the opposition leader, Senator Ninoy Aquino Jr. who was supposed to arrive at the Manila International Airport.

I followed the political career of the Senator since he was elected as the youngest governor of Tarlac. Until he was arrested during martial law and was exiled by Marcos to the United States in 1980.

For two weeks, his projected return to the Philippines was on the top of the news IT was sensationalized with Metro Manila Governor Imelda Marcos and Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile warning that “ Aquino might be assassinated if ever he comes back to Manila. “ And for me it was a dire warning that something might happen.

It was the 11th year of martial law and Marcos believed in the number 7 and 11 and my naughty mind is playing games of what will happen as in dystopia.

In between listening to music on the FM radio and Radio Veritas I followed the opposition welcome arrival rites for Senator Aquino at the MIA. Around 4:00 PM that day, I was surprised with the incoming news; “ Ninoy Aquino was shot dead by an assassin at the Manila International airport.”


I relayed the news to my companions but they all shrugged the news off. Somebody said, “let’s wait for more news. Another said, “ why are you in tears? Don’t be overacting.” I kept my anger inside me with that admonition. I understand it, Some of them thinks that Aquino was our enemy.

All the way to Nueva Vizcaya, I can sense the eerie feeling outside. That night, all the police and military checkpoints were absent. All the military camps along the highway were quiet. As if the silence was deadening.

Around that nights, the METROCOM chief General Prospero Olivas held a press conference and I can feel the quivering in his voice when he announced that “ Senator Aquino was killed by a communist assassin” I did not see that he was holding the gun that supposed to have been used until the reporter of DZRH described it in detail.

Later, deep in the night, the stentorian voice of the dictator was on the air. He confirmed that Aquino was killed by “ lone and determined assassin named Rolando Galman.”

He went along with the usual bullshits that we used to hear. Denying and claiming that he know nothing. Like the proverbial Sgt.Shutlz of Stalag 13 of   my favorite TV series “ Hogan Heroes” of the late 1960’s. And blamed the incident to the usual bogeyman- the NPA and the communists.14021553_10153946903142734_7899300950143866468_n

That night, IBP Assemblyman Doy Laurel of Batangas brought the sad news to over Radio Veritas confirming that Senator Aquino has died. All the preparations for his arrivals, the yellow ribbons, the placards and the people had dispersed and are all strewn along the way from the airport to Manila. But still Radio Veritas played on the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon…”

Early on the morning of August 22, Radio Veritas read Ninoy Aquino’s arrival message to the Filipino people. It was poignant yet brave. Radio Veritas instantly became the voice of freedom because no radio stations, media outlets, all under censorship will broadcast what really happened except the official version by Malacanang.

I still can remember, August 21, 1983 the day Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. died.

That day the beginning of the end of the dreaded US-Marcos dictatorship truly began.












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