Monday, August 21, 2006

Remembering Ninoy

Twenty-three years ago today, Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino was shot while going down the steps of the plane accompanied by armed soldiers. He was in exile in the U.S. after spending time in prison since the declaration of Martial Law. He felt the need to go back to the Philippines to lead the non-violent struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime. Even if he was warned that it would cost him his life, he nevertheless took that plane back to Manila. He died even before his feet touched the soil of his native land. His death did not end his dream. Millions of people turned out for the funeral. And from among them grew a movement that ousted the dictator three years later.

Ninoy became a "Christ-figure" in the Filipino psyche. He became like the One who gave his life on the cross so that others may live. He sacrificed his life for the freedom of his people. This was the same spirit that pervaded the EDSA people power event -- a people willing to die but not to kill. The tanks and armies were no match to the power of love and nonviolence.

Here is a poem that I wrote for Ninoy:

Death on the Tarmac

You sprawled on the tarmac
like a dove in flight
that has been nailed to the ground.

They finally stopped you.
Or so they thought.

The bullet that pierced your skull
pierced our frigid hearts.
The shot that echoed throughout the archipelago
continues to reverberate in our wounded hearts.

No bullet can ever kill a dream.
It will only break the vessel
from which the fragrance is released.
It will only crack the dam
from which the rising waters will break through.

Ninoy, your death has freed us from our fears
and sparked a fire in our hearts
that will continue to rage through the night
until the dawning of the new day.

You died
that we may rise.

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