5 Interesting Facts About Ninoy Aquino’s Life
You may have heard the name “Aquino” in a few places: an airport, in politics, the P500 bill, and certainly, local showbiz.
The man who brought the name to national fame is no other than Benigno Aquino Jr., better known as Ninoy Aquino, a historical figure from not too long ago who helped shape the Philippines and its quest for freedom.
It certainly helped that Aquino was born to a wealthy, landed family in Tarlac. Aware of his privilege, he used his brilliance and influence for issues in the country.
Being eloquently outspoken for the truth and the average Filipino made him well-loved in the country, but at the cost of his life.
As a senator Aquino called out President Ferdinand Marcos for abusing his power and the people’s money. He became extremely popular and was viewed as a threat to the presidency.
In 1972, Marcos declared martial law, allegedly to fight communist insurgency, but really to keep his rule unquestioned. Aquino was one of the many brave Filipinos who wasn’t having any of that.
It’s well-known that Aquino was imprisoned, exiled, and assassinated—ultimately inspiring the uprising People Power I to topple the Marcos regime.
Read on to find out other parts of his life outside of the great sacrifices he made.
1. Not excited about school, he started his career young.
After graduating from San Beda High School, he didn’t want to go to university right away so he took a job at the Manila Times when he was 17, where he was the Korean War correspondent.
He told a foreign writer that other reporters refused the assignment because they were married with children. Before the editors even agreed, he was already flying to Korea and sending them dispatches in imperfect English, according to writer Art Villasanta.
You only have to look to Aquino’s achievements to feel underwhelmed with your own: As listed in the book “Ninoy: Ideals & Ideologies” by the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Foundation, after becoming an awarded journalist, he moved on to politics. He was negotiating with the Huk at 20, and became the youngest mayor of his hometown of Concepcion, Tarlac at 22. He became the country’s youngest senator at 34.
2. He was exposed to war and foreign affairs.
By 20, he covered Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam, where French colonialism was being battled away.
In politics, he accompanied President Diosdado Macapagal to Cambodia and Indonesia. He was also sent as the Philippine delegate to international conferences in Asia and Africa.
According to Bantayog.org, Aquino opposed joining the Vietnam War, perhaps drawing from his experience of the horrors in the battlefield.
3. President Magsaysay helped start his political career.
With his accomplishments, it wasn’t long before he caught the attention of heads of state. He received an award from President Elpidio Quirino for his coverage of the Philippine contingent in the Korean War.
He would soon get into government service when he was hired as President Ramon Magsaysay’s special assistant. For negotiating with the Huk, he was awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor, Commander Degree.
4. He met Cory when they were nine.
According to ThoughtCo, his wife, then Cory Cojuangco, was also from a politically influential family in Tarlac. They first met at a birthday party when they were nine years old.
They would meet again when she was a law student, and she dropped law school to get married in 1955. Even if she pegged herself as a “plain housewife”, Cory was well-educated and brave enough to continue her husband’s legacy after his death.
5. He had two passports.
In 1979 he went on exile in the U.S.; Imelda Marcos’ condition for him to treat his ailing heart abroad was that he would not return.
Obviously, he broke that promise for good reason. He wanted to go back to the Philippines to meet Marcos. To arrange this, he had to have a passport.
In an Inquirer article by Aquino’s U.P. fratmate Jose A.P. Amposo, while in the States Aquino turned to him for help. With the right connections, he got two passports: One with his real name and the other with “Marcial Bonifacio”.
If there’s anything to learn from Ninoy Aquino, it’s that heroes are made, not born: Be a bit brash, learn from role models, stand up for what’s right—even if it scares you sometimes—and put others first. You don’t need to be on a peso bill to be a hero everyday.