Press Release
August 21, 2020


This is my personal story of that fateful day, 37 years ago.

On August 21, 1983, some of my Ateneo Sanggu Central Boardmates mobilized to meet Ninoy Aquino at the airport. I was one of those who had objected to meeting him because I felt that he was a trapo and had not fought with us the previous years.

I had many opinions of Ninoy, but then I realized when they killed him that he had returned to the Philippines knowing well the risks. He ultimately was willing to give up his one and only life. He had said the Filipino was worth dying for, and he stood true to his words. On that day, Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. The rest, as they say, is history - and it became part of my personal history, too.

I will never forget the tragedy and the inspiration of Ninoy's death as we must not forget the many who have died for us. Deaths like these are built on extraordinary hope and an unwavering love for the Filipino. Ito'y mga kamatayang bumuhay sa bansang nagkaisa laban sa diktador. Mga kamatayang bumuhay sa nasyonalismo, ng ating pagmamahal sa bayan at kapwa Pilipino. I try to remember these sacrifices every day I wake up to do my work as a citizen and as a senator.

There was fear that day, 37 years ago. But there was also anger and a passionate desire to do something because things should not remain the same.

Today, we are met with similar challenges. In the middle of a global pandemic, we are faced with threats to our democracy and liberties. Killing has become part of our daily language and we wake up with deaths by the thousands. Nakakatakot ang karahasang pumapaligid. Ngunit mas nakakatakot kung magmanhid tayo dito. Naniniwala akong pati si Ninoy noon ay natakot din minsan. But let us remember that the greatest act of hope is to return, even in uncertainty.

May Ninoy's heroism challenge us to never accept the oppression and suffering as a given, to always be inspired by the Filipino and work towards building a future that works for all, and lastly, even if it meant fearful uncertainty, to hope. Dreams, after all, are most vivid in the dark.


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