Aug 21, 2009

The Filipino is worth dying for

The Filipino is worth dying for. What a statement and what a challenge!
I wrote this as I was watching the celebration of the 26th death anniversary of Benigno Aquino Jr shown over national television. Recently, as an aftermath of the death of the Philippine democracy icon Corazon Aquino, and now as the death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino is commemorated, doses of history are suddenly coming into me. And suddenly, I am having goosebumps.
Benigno Aquino
Corazon Aquino
You know as a bonafide Ilocano (I was born in Ilocos and of both Ilocano parents), we were not taught at home of what Cory did for the country, much less what Ninoy sacrificed to achieve democracy. Our parents and grandparents are way too loyal to tell us of things that would change the way we viewed the "legacy" of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, an Ilocano himself. And so back then in our rural area, Ninoy and Cory were the villains. Marcos was the great one. My late grandma, may she rest in peace, would then always tell me that it was he brought electricity to our homes, built us roads and bridges of international standards, constructed schools, hospitals and others. Of course, as I grew up, I learned that a great deal of these infrastructures were in fact financed by large external borrowings that until now we continue to shoulder, and they're darn too heavy that we do not know for sure when we'll be able to repay them.
Although my region, up North in Ilocos, benefited much from his so-called legacy, sadly for me all of these are overshadowed by the dictatorship he led and all the mess it brought to the Filipino people. It saddens me that the so-called great son of the North seemed to be remembered not by what he's done in my region or in the country as a whole but by the stories of human rights violations, the large debts incurred during his dictatorship, and the billions he allegedly squandered. Too sad that he have not earned the respect even from someone like me, his kababayan. But I somehow thank him though for what he did turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I've been thinking that had Marcos not declared Martial Law, the patriotic deed that Ninoy Aquino had to do would not have happened. Don't get me wrong. Even before he got exiled and assassinated, he already did great things for this country. But without the Martial Law, I'm guessing things may have been different. The world would not have seen how Filipinos can come together united and high spirited for a single cry of democracy. And Cory Aquino would have not made herself the first woman president in the country. She would not have delivered that historic speech at the US Congress. All these things that have happened was almost like giving in to "fate." The Filipino is destined to be free but at a great cost. This country is forever indebted to this couple Cory and Ninoy. I feel lucky that although I did not have the chance to learn about these things back then, the sweet democracy that we all now enjoy, the technology and an open mind made it possible for people like me to learn about all of these important historical events and I shall partake these to my children.
These recent events have rekindled the spirit of the ordinary Filipino. Suddenly, there is this atmosphere of nationalism that is finally coming into play again. I say it's timely because we are near the period of transition. Election will come next year and hopefully, this nationalistic mode that we are all in should help in the decision that we make. This history of immense self-sacrifice and heroism has to serve in the way it was supposed to when Ninoy said that the Filipino is worth dying for. All the praises and thanks we give Cory and Ninoy would all end up in vain if we forget the very reason why they did all the sacrifices in the first place. They believed, as did so many heroes and heroines that walked this land, that the Filipino is a great people, that it is worth no less than their lives. Ninoy gave his life to the Filipino people when he decided to come home despite the great threat to his life while Cory guarded our democracy til the end of her days. These should not go into waste.

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