Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino

by Francine-Anne from San Diego


Compassion. Courage. Bravery. Strength of character. Intelligence. These are all qualities that a hero is “required” to have. It hasn’t been proven by anyone; nobody has made a book of rules as to what requirements you must fulfill to become a hero. Nevertheless, those are all expectations that most people believe that heroes must have. Of course, most people are so blinded by their idealism that they fail to realize that heroes, after all, are human as well. They have feelings, desires, and pains just as we do. Heroes possess no superpowers, and can bleed just as the rest of us can. This was proven by Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr., who returned to the country he loved on August 21, 1983. He was greeted by a gunshot to the back of his head on the tarmac of the former Manila International Airport (now known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport).

Benigno with Cory Aquino. (
Benigno with Cory Aquino. (

Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino was born on November 27, 1932 in Concepcion, in the Tarlac Province, in Luzon to a wealthy family. He worked as a journalist for the Manila Times newspaper in 1949 at the young age of of seventeen, and continued to work as a journalist until 1954, when he was elected to become the youngest congressman in the Philippines. On October 11, 1954, Benigno and Corazon “Cory” Cojuanco were married, and later had five children together: Maria Elena, Aurora Corazon, Benigno III, Victoria Elisa, and Kristina Bernadette.

From the 1950’s to the 1970’s, Benigno was endowed with several awards, such as the Philippine Legion of Honor (Commander degree AND the Officer degree), was voted one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines, Outstanding Senator. Finally, in 1971, he was voted “Man of the Year” after President Ferdinand Marcos threatened to arrest him on false charges due to the fact that Benigno was Marcos’ only roadblock on the path to Marcos’ reelection. After declaring martial law, Marcos arrested Benigno on September 22, 1972. Benigno was kept in solitary confinement after falsely being accused by President Ferdinand Marcos of heading a communist party. Following his solitary confinement, Benigno was sentenced to death, which was only stopped by his mother protesting two days later, “claiming that her son had been denied the opportunity to present evidence. Marcos responded by ordering the military court to reopen the case. The trial resumed but quickly bogged down, & Aquino remained in Manila’s Fort Bonifacio for another two and a half years.”(Simons, Lewis M. )

Benigno was released from prison on May 8, 1980 to undergo a triple heart bypass surgery at Baylor Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA. At that point in his life, he was known to be emotional, and to let his emotions be known when they overwhelmed him. Benigno’s wife, Corazon, said “When Ninoy was in prison, when he was on the hunger strike, when my father died, he tended to be very emotional- not for sad things but when he was very happy or when somebody did something special. All of a sudden, tears just came. When we got to Dallas (for his heart surgery), he was so grateful to the people there that he just cried.” (Beltran, Luis) The fact that Benigno had the courage to cry in front of all the attendants, and nurses and doctors at that hospital shows just how comfortable he was in his skin. Not many women have the self confidence to cry in front of others without feeling embarrassed, but Benigno, a fully grown man felt so overcome with emotion that he cried, in public, with no thought to it. It takes a mature person to be able to vocalize their feelings in public, and not many can do so, but Benigno did exactly what most people would never dare to do.

Benigno had always been religious. “Remember that Ninoy was born on a feast day of the Blessed Mother, November 27. That is the feast day of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. When he was a little boy, we used to take him to Mass on his birthday in San Marcelino Church, the shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. His father used to tease him: ‘Ninoy, look at all the people who have come to church for your birthday.’ I think that stuck in his mind.” (Aurora A. Aquino, mother of Benigno S. Aquino Jr.) Even when Benigno had realized what awaited him at the bottom of the airplane’s staircase, he still finished his Rosary, and stepped off the plane. “In the plane on his way to Manila, Ninoy was saying the Rosary- according to Ken Kashiwara, who was sitting across the aisle from him. Apparently he was interrupted by someone who wanted to speak with him. When the plane landed, Ninoy realized that he had not finished the Rosary. He stayed in his seat to finish it, and then prepared to go.”(Beltran, Luis) “[Ninoy] had to know they were going to kill him. In his last few moments, after the uniformed men located him in his seat on the plane. The emotions flickering across his face showed that he knew. Surprise. Realization. Fear. Resignation.” (Simons, Lewis M.) And even though Benigno realized that he would most likely be killed upon sight, he still prayed, and stepped off the plane, to his demise. It says that his emotion after fear was resignation. Benigno felt fear as well. Now, a normal cowardly person would have called to the pilot and said, “Turn this flight around, I want to go home,” but Benigno resigned himself to finish his rosary, step off the airplane, and receive what welcoming reception his countrymen had prepared for him, whether it be a bullet to the base of his skull, jail, solitary confinement, or anything else that the government wanted to throw at him. Benigno had decided that he was going to come home. Whether it be in a casket or on his own two feet.

This is a picture of Benigno after he was shot on (
This is a picture of Benigno after he was shot on (

“A friend of Ninoy relates that a few days before the former senator went to his appointment with destiny, he was staying at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where US Senator Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. The friend relates that on the evening before his departure, Ninoy asked his friend to accompany him to the kitchen where Kennedy was shot. Ninoy told his friend: “If I get shot in the head like Kennedy, I am not going down on my knees. If you get shot like that, you have a few seconds of life left. If that happens to me, I am going to fall straight down and spread my arms so people will know I never gave up even to the last second.” (Beltran, Luis) Benigno had a feeling that he was going to be assassinated, and yet, he still returned to his home country to run for the presidential election. He could have stayed warm in his bed in the USA, it was certain that he could have lived out the rest of his days in Boston, Massachusetts, but he chose to return home, to his country, and to his people, if only to give them courage one last time. The courage Benigno had bordered on idiocy; even an idiot has sense enough to stay away from people who want him dead - the president, Ferdinand Marcos. Needless to say, Benigno was fearless. He returned home, head held high, and the moment his feet touched the concrete of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, a gunshot rang out, Benigno’s knees buckled, and yet, he still did not kneel. He stayed standing for as long as he could, and fell flat, spreading his arms as an eagle would spread their wings. And truly, an eagle did spread its wings, for after his death, the Philippine nation went into an uproar. All of Benigno’s silent followers were silent no more, and that began the Philippine Revolution.

Page created on 5/21/2010 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 5/21/2010 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.