Press Release
August 21, 2018

Sen. Bam Aquino's message for Ninoy Aquino Day

Is the Filipino STILL worth dying for?

I get asked this question a lot these days from friends and relatives as if to say that these immortalized words from Tito Ninoy are no longer true.

Many of them are disillusioned and despondent with the state of our nation and the seeming lack of courage from the public and from public officials. Where is the anger at the thousands of deaths and the everyday violence in our streets? Where are the leaders of the country who vowed to speak for the poor, but are now so silent and even complicit to the worsening situation of our people?

When they ask: 'Is the Filipino still worth dying for?', what they're really asking is: 'Are we Filipinos still worth the trouble and the struggle?'

But when Ninoy Aquino wrote these words, our country was not much different from today.

It was 1983, more than a decade of the Marcoses in absolute power, corruption rampant, with the poor feeling the worst of it.

Media was controlled and though there were pockets of resistance, the dictatorship reigned. People were afraid.

I remember my parents saying that martial law showed us who our true friends were because nobody would want to be seen with those vocal against the government.

My father lost clients; neighbors would avoid my mom at the grocery aisle. And Tito Ninoy was jailed for almost eight years.

Ninoy Aquino went from being 1971's Man of the Year and a promising Presidentiable, to being Martial Law's Prisoner No. 1 and largely being forgotten by a once-supportive public.

I asked my parents, 'Kung mahal talaga siya ng mga tao noon, bakit 'di sila nagprotesta o nag-rally?' 'Natatakot sila,' they would say.

Sentenced to death on fake charges and eventually (thankfully) exiled from the land he loved, student activists of the 80's once told me they didn't even remember who he was when he came home.

He was 39 years old when they jailed him and 50 when they shot him.

But in his last decade filled with loneliness, abandonment, disappointment and betrayal, it was in those times that he wrote, "The Filipino is worth dying for."

In the end, he never lost that hope - in God, in himself and yes, in the Filipino.

And if someone like Ninoy Aquino, stripped of popularity, power and potential, can keep his hope in the Filipino alive even at the darkest of times in his life and in our history, how can we lose hope today?

Clearly the answer to the question, 'Is the Filipino STILL worth dying for?' is Yes! Yes!

Yes, we are still worth dying for, we are worth the trouble and the struggle. No matter how difficult or dangerous times may get, let's take the lead from Ninoy's life.

The Filipino is worth dying for, worth fighting for. Tuloy ang Laban!

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