Today in Philippine History, November 27, 1932, Benigno Aquino Jr. was born in Concepcion, Tarlac

Sunday November 27, 2011 ()

On November 27, 1932, Senator Benigno Simeon "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., a popular newspaperman, politician and opposition leader who was assassinated on August 21, 1983 at the Manila International Airport upon returning from exile in the United States, was born in Concepcion, Tarlac.

Ninoy's death triggered the EDSA Revolution, famously known as the "EDSA People Power Revolution" of 1986 and brought his widow, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, to the limelight and subsequently to the presidency.

   Benigno Aquino Jr.
   (Benigno Aquino Jr.)

Ninoy came from a political family, with his grandfather serving under President Emilio Aguinaldo, while his father held office under Presidents Manuel Quezon and Jose P. Laurel.

He earned the moniker "Wonder Boy" of Philippine politics for his various achievements -- being the youngest mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac, at age 22, youngest vice-governor at age 27, governor of Tarlac at age 29, and made history by becoming the youngest elected senator at age 34.

Benigno Aquino Jr. with Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, Philippine Legion of Honor Award   
18-year old Benigno Aquino Jr. receives the Philippine Legion of Honor. Standing beside him is Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay.   

Ninoy was twice awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor. First with a rank of Officer for his service in Korea with the Philippine troops, working as Manila Times correspondent, when he was 18 years old, and the second with a rank of Commander, awarded on October 14, 1954 for successfully bringing Luis Taruc down from the hills.

During his tenure as legislator, he was selected by the Philippine Free Press magazine as one of the nation's most outstanding senators.

He was seen as a contender by many for the highest office in the land, the presidency. Surveys during those times showed that he was the number one choice among Filipinos, since then President Ferdinand Marcos, by law, was prohibited from serving another term.

However, when President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation 1081 on September 21, 1972, placing the entire country under Martial Law, the Writ of Habeas Corpus was suspended, and Ninoy was one of those arrested and imprisoned along with the other activists for alleged subversion.

   Benigno Aquino Jr. with wife Corazon, Philippine Legion of Honor Award
   Second Legion of Honor award the rank of Commander. Conferring the award was Defense Secretary Sotero Cabahug, assisted by Ninoy’s wife Corazon on October 14, 1954.

He suffered a heart attack while in prison and was allowed to leave for medical treatment in the United States.

In August 1983, Ninoy decided to go back to the Philippines, fully aware of the dangers that awaited him. Warned that he would either be imprisoned or killed, Aquino said, "If it's my fate to die by an assassin's bullet, so be it. But I cannot be petrified by inaction, or fear of assassination, and therefore stay in the side..."

He died on August 21, 1983 when he was shot in the head upon his arrival at the Manila International Airport (now renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport).

In 2004, the anniversary of his death was proclaimed as a national holiday now known as Ninoy Aquino Day while several monuments were built in his honor, most renowned of which is the bronze memorial in Makati City near the Philippine Stock Exchange, and his image is printed on the 500-peso bill.

Reference: Philippine New Agency archives
Photo: Official Gazette of the Office of Philippine President


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