Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sen. Benigno S. ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr.’s martyrdom as he was shot to death upon his return to our motherland from the United States. As a champion of democracy and a prominent Martial Law critic, Ninoy serves as an inspiration for Filipinos in steering the country towards a brighter future. Here are five memorable quotes and patriotic credo from a modern-day hero:
1. "We must transcend our petty selves, forget our hurts and bitterness, cast aside thought of revenge, and let sanity, reason, and above all, love of country prevail during our gravest hour.”
- Ninoy reminds us to set our individual agenda, and pursue the best interest for the common good, even during the most trying times.
2. “The only advice I can give you: live with honor and follow your conscience.”
- Ninoy's letter to Noynoy (Benigno Aquino III), August 25, 197. Ninoy upholds the importance of living according to one’s integrity, which will also help us live life with no regrets.
3. “The moment you say no to tyranny, you are beginning the struggle, the long lonely road to freedom. And so I ask this afternoon, please say no and learn to say no. No to tyranny! No to corruption! No to all this degradation of human dignity! Because then, I feel the true air of your fathers who before you have shed their blood for our freedoms.”- Ninoy at the freedom rally symposium by the Movement for Free Philippines (MFP); Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, California; February 15, 1981. He was a supporter of freedom of speech, justice, and people power, which are the foundations of democracy.
4. “I have asked myself many times: Is the Filipino worth suffering, or even dying, for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy? I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for because he is the nation’s greatest untapped resource.”- Ninoy’s interview with Asia Society on August 4, 1980 in New York City. He was talking about love of country to the point that he would be willing to sacrifice himself.
5. "There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.”- Ninoy's letter to Noynoy (Benigno Aquino III), August 25, 1973, speaking of patriotism and being a nationalist.
When we were young, we spent days in the classroom listening to our teachers tell us about history so that we would learn and won’t repeat the same mistakes. May we all take this day to remember the people who we owe the freedom that we have today. May we honor them all by doing what we can to give genuine concern for our country and to our fellowmen. A simple call to kindness will do and it can even begin in our household by treating each other right, which is the basis of respect and equality.
Image by astronok