Three days from now, it'll be August 21, the 33rd anniversary of the death of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. Being an active spokesperson against the abuses of President Marcos' administration, Aquino was allegedly assassinated by the notorious Philippine dictator on August 21, 1983 at the Manila International Airport (now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport).
The assassination caused Aquino's widow — Corazon "Cory" Aquino — to be propelled into the public eye as a presidential candidate against Marcos. It also led to the People Power Revolution, which drove the dictator out of the country and towards Honolulu, Hawaii, where he spent his remaining days until he died of various ailments.
That, in a nutshell, is the story you'll hear if you ask Filipinos why they continue to remember Ninoy Aquino to this day. He wasn't just a man who dared to speak out when no one else did; even after his death, he became the face of the "revolution that surprised the world," a nonviolent resistance that dislodged a man known for using violent means from power.
To commemorate Aquino, and what he's done for the Filipino people, here are some of the sights you'll want to see this Sunday.
The Ninoy Aquino Monument in Makati
If you've been anywhere near the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue, you'll see a large bronze statue of two men holding each of a third man's arms against his will. Nonetheless, the third man has an almost straight and dignified posture, while the two men keeping him hostage are stooped, as if ashamed of what they are doing. It commemorates the minutes before Aquino's assassination, when 1,000 armed men greeted the senator at the Manila International Airport to arrest him.
It was sculpted by Peter de Guzman, and is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Makati City. The monument is surrounded by banks, making it the literal center of Metro Manila's financial center. If you're looking for the Ayala Triangle Gardens, for example, and you see the monument, that's a sign you're in the right place!
The Ninoy Aquino Monument in Manila
Like the one in Makati, this monument is at the intersection of two roads: Padre Burgos Drive and Roxas Boulevard. It's beside the Cory Aquino Memorial Shrine, which has a statue of the Philippines' first woman president. There are markers dedicated to the husband-and-wife duo in Tagalog, translated as follows:
President Maria Corazon "Cory" Aquino (1933-2009)
Tita ("Aunt") Cory fearlessly became a (presidential) candidate under the banner of the opposition represented by her spouse Senator Benigno S. Aquino, who was assassinated upon his arrival in the Philippines. During the peaceful revolution known as the EDSA People Power I of 1986, the dictatorship was toppled, and Tita Cory rose to become the 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines and the first woman president in Asia. She was considered the Mother of Democracy; was a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding in 1988; was chosen by Time Magazine as "Woman of the Year" in 1986 and was listed as one of "20 Most Influential Asians" of the 20th century in 1999.
President Aquino was born in Manila on January 25, 1933. She died on August 1, 2009.
Inaugurated: January 25, 2010.
Benigno S. Aquino Jr. "Ninoy" (1932 – 1983)
Born in Concepcion, Tarlac on November 27, 1932. Cub Reporter, The Manila Times, 1949. Correspondent on the Korean War, 1950-1951. Honor of President Elpidio R. Quirino, 1951; and of President Ramon F. Magsaysay, 1954. Negotiated for the surrender of HUKBALAHAP leader Luis Taruc, 1954. Mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac, 1955. Vice Governor of Tarlac, 1959; Governor of Tarlac, 1961. Senator, 1967. Imprisoned after the declaration of Martial Law by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, September 23, 1972. Sentenced to death by the military for the crimes of murder, illegal possession of firearms and subversion, 1977. Was advised to fly to the United States for treatment, 1980. Assassinated upon his return to the Philippines, August 21, 1983.
The Ninoy Aquino Statue in Concepcion, Tarlac
Being Aquino's birthplace, Concepcion has an unsurprising number of markers in his honor. For example, there's the ancestral house of the Aquinos, which was thereafter considered a historical site by the National Historical Commission (NHC) in 1987. On that same year, a bronze statue was erected in front of the municipal building, back when Herminio S. Aquino became the congressman for Tarlac's 3rd district. (Trivia: Herminio is the half-brother of Benigno, hence the similar surnames.)
The Ninoy Aquino Statue of Bacolod, Negros Occidental
At the old Bacolod airport, there's yet another Ninoy Aquino Statue. Here, Negrenses (the people of Negros) gather to commemorate the EDSA People Power Revolution. You can also head over to the Freedom Park, also known as the Ninoy Aquino Freedom Park, where you can join events hosted by Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental in general.
These monuments are just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of where you go in the Philippines, you can find statues, markers and other memorials to Ninoy Aquino (like the one at the Pampanga Provincial Capitol pictured above, for example). If you know of other breathtaking Aquino memorials that haven't been featured here, hit us up in the comments/social media!