8/21/2011
For a lack of heroes

Today marks 28 years since Ninoy Aquino, the head of the opposition against then president Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated. Which means today marks the one day of the year when his story is retold - when newspapers publish front page articles about the man from the perspective of, say, his doctor, or one of the guards when he was a political prisoner, or maybe his colleague at The Manila Times?

Now, I don't mind these stories. It's fascinating reading these historical pieces - I read the newspaper a lot, and even I will admit that I learn more reading about events from way, way back than reading about events from the day before. And I don't have anything against the man himself. Of course, I wasn't alive when he was fatally shot at the tarmac of what was then known as the Manila International Airport, and I wasn't alive when he delivered his many speeches denouncing Marcos' iron-fisted rule, but I know that he's a good man, and if not for him, we would be a little worse off. His son, of course, is a completely different thing altogether.

But I'm not going to write about that. It's going to be simpler than that, for a change.

So today's newscasts will have a bunch of interviews with relatives of Ninoy Aquino. If not his daughters, then maybe the nieces and nephews he didn't see grow up. It's been always like that every year. At first, I thought if the Aquinos would once want to mark the death of their patriarch quietly, but I figured it's impossible. They have perhaps surrendered the right to mark the occasion quietly, because whether they like it or not, the Aquinos are of the Filipinos and for the Filipinos.

And then I thought, don't we have a modern-day equivalent to Ninoy Aquino? Will we still mark his martyrdom in thirty years' time? Don't get me wrong - I'm not suggesting we forget everything he did - but will we still have interviews with anybody who's connected to Ninoy in thirty years' time? Will we still watch them tell the same stories we've heard over the past two, almost three, decades? Will it reach the point that it's all just a holiday to look forward to, and nothing else, despite the many attempts to remind us kids - oh, us kids, we who do not have any idea, and will not have any idea - of all the things Ninoy did? Like it did to Jose Rizal? To Andres Bonifacio? To whoever else is in a paper bill?

Have our leaders gone from noble beings to opportunists? Have we gone from (relatively) noble beings to opportunists? Or have we all blown everything out of proportion?

"Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, gusto maging state witness!" my TV blared.

And your responses...

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