Remember Ninoy Aquino

Ninoy Aquino
Former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. in the plane that brought him home from exile in the United States. —PHOTO FROM

On Aug. 21 it will be 40 years to the day when the former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. landed at the airport that now bears his name and was shot dead as he disembarked from the plane.

Ninoy Aquino had flown to Manila from exile in the United States with the intention of uniting the opposition to Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial rule. The funeral procession that accompanied the flatbed truck bearing his coffin to the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City took a memorable 10-and-a-half hours. (See “Unforgettable: More than a million mourners turned up for Ninoy Aquino’s funeral,”, 9/4/22.)

Three years later, on Feb. 25, 1986, the Marcos dictatorship was toppled by the People Power Revolution, and Ninoy Aquino’s widow, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, was sworn in as president. Cory Aquino died of illness on Aug. 1, 2009.

The mastermind of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination has yet to be known. (See “Agrava reports didn’t answer question of why Ninoy Aquino was killed,”, 8/20/22.)

To commemorate his martyrdom, the Aquino family and the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation (NCAF) invite the public to take part in the Mass to be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Aug. 21 at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City, The church was where the funeral procession started for the slain former senator.

The Most Reverend Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Socrates Villegas, OP, will celebrate the Mass. Those who will serve as Mass readers are Prof. Maris Diokno; former lawmaker Erin Tanada; Vicboy de Lima, a brother of the imprisoned former senator Leila de Lima; Randy delos Santos, an uncle of of the extrajudicial killing victim Kian delos Santos; and Nilda Fullon, a member of the Survivors’ Hub (Martial Law 1972-1986). 

Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, eldest child of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, will deliver a message from the family at the end of the Mass. 

The NCAF was founded on the leadership legacies of Ninoy and Cory Aquino. These legacies are seen to inspire and mold generations of Filipinos in the “transformative values of self-sacrifice ad self-transcendence in service to humanity.” 

‘PNoy’s Playlist’

On Aug. 11, the NCAF sponsored “PNoy’s Playlist: The Concert” at Hyundai Hall in Areté, Ateneo de Manila University. It was a benefit show for Ateneo scholars and featured songs culled from the personal, meticulously curated playlist of the Aquinos’ only son, the late former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, fondly known as PNoy.

Top Filipino performers who were also PNoy’s close friends performed 26 of his favorite songs that ran an eclectic range. 

In remarks delivered during the show, PNoy’s nephew, Kiko Aquino Dee, said he himself had wondered how a concert featuring songs by the Bukas Palad Music Ministry and the Spice Girls would be.

“Now we know, and all our lives are better for it,” said Dee, who serves as NCAF deputy executive director.

Leo Rialp and Bond Samson were the show’s overall director and musical director, respectively. People closest to PNoy—Rapa Lopa, Rene Almendras, Abi Valte, JC Casimiro, AJ Ardiente, Ivy Reanzares, and Yolly Yebes—shared stories about him in interviews interspersed with the performances.

The concert opened with “Panalangin ng Pagiging Bukas Palad,” performed by a group of theater artists and a song that PNoy listened to in times of challenges and contemplation. An aide discovered that the last songs PNoy listened to on the day before his unexpected death of illness on June 24, 2021, were from a Bukas Palad album.

Collectively known on show night as the “Playlist Singers,” the artsts were invited by Rialp and theater actor Ricci Chan, who was also the show’s choreographer: Jose Eduardo Geronimo Barrameda, Gerard Nicolo Dy, Carlon Josol Matobato, Ivan Hallig Panganiban, Kyla Rivera Soong, Ronah Adiel R. de la Peña, Contessa Nathalie Manuel Everett, and Carmen Rose Eugenia Barredo. 

Sexy, tender moments

Veteran performers Mitch Valdes, Pinky Marquez and Leah Navarro, costumed by designer Eric Pineda, performed the Spice Girls’ hit “Wannabe” and Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

The APO Hiking Society’s Jim Paredes and Boboy Garrovillo sang a medley of “Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan” and “Mahirap Magmahal Ng Syota Ng Iba,” and, with Noel Cabangon, “Awit ng Barkada.”

Cabangon, who also sang “Kanlungan,” recalled how he met PNoy, then still a senator, during one of his gigs, and how they eventually became good friends. 

Ogie Alcasid sang his hit song, “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang,” as well as “Kailangan Kita,” which, he said, was a constant in PNoy’s digital Walkman. He also said that while Lara Maigue was singing “Fallin’” during the concert, he remembered the times he and PNoy listened to CDs.

It wouldn’t have been a PNoy concert without a sing-along. Marquez and Chan led the karaoke session with “It’s the Falling In Love,” “Just to See Her” and “The Harder I Try.” 

Seeing PNoy speak on video, alive again in a short clip of a media interview about his Dad, Ninoy, and listening to “Impossible Dream” sung by Mike Shimamoto comprised a tender moment.  

Unfinished business

There was no dry eye in the room when Valdes sang “Minsan Ang Minahal Ay Ako,” PNoy’s most favorite OPM song, as photos of the late president flashed on screen.  

The show wrapped up with “Mabuting Pilipino,” sung by the whole ensemble led by Cabangon, who urged those present to rise, sing along, and promise to be good Filipinos. As “Mabuting Pilipino” played, a portrait of PNoy by his cousin-in-law Didi Lopa appeared on screen.

“Minsan Ang Minahal Ay Ako,” PNoy’s most favorite OPM song, as photos of the late president flashed on screen. "Remember Ninoy"
The whole cast sings “Mabuting Pilipino” with the audience and PNoy’s portrait by Didi Lopa in the background.

“Tito Noy’s unfinished business included working with the country’s next generation of leaders,” Kiko Dee said.

That night, the audience chipped in to raise money for the Benigno Simeon Aquino III Scholarship Endowment so that one more deserving undergraduate student may continue studying at Ateneo, PNoy’s alma mater. The endowment was set up and launched last year by PNoy’s classmates from Ateneo Batch ’81.

The endowment’s current scholars are Oona Barnes and Rasheed Albel. Barnes is a fourth-year biology major who aspires to become a medical doctor with a focus on women’s health and underserved communities. Albel is a second-year applied mathematics (master in data science) major, who wants to help improve the quality of math education in Mindanao and integrate the field of study into public service. Those who wish to support the Benigno Simeon Aquino III Scholarship Endowment may visit or contact the Ateneo’s Office of Admissions and Aid at [email protected] or call (+63) 919 063 2376, (+632) 8426-6001 loc. 5154 and 5155, and (+632) 8426-6075.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.