August 21, 1983

“I have weighed all the virtues and faults of the Filipinos, and I have come to the conclusion that the Filipino is worth dying for.” — Benigno Aquino Jr (November 27, 1932 – August 21, 1983)

I remember it was a sunny and sleepy Sunday. The TV was on, as it always was when the whole family was home. I remember we just had lunch and I think my dad was reading, a tall Nescafe glass of instant black coffee nearby. I don’t remember what I was doing or what any of my brothers were doing. I do remember the breaking news, about Ninoy getting shot, not so much because of who he was, but because my dad sat up, told me to hush up. I remember he said, “Naloko na,” as we watched the news. I remember my mom was suddenly in the room, and both of them staring wide-eyed and riveted at the TV, shocked. I remember one of them said, “Hala, pinatay nila si Ninoy” [“They killed Ninoy”]. It must’ve been my mom. I remember asking who Ninoy was. I remember the grainy TV footage, a man in white going down the tarmac, I remember he stumbled, then toppled over. That was the first I’ve seen a real person getting shot on TV. I remember that everything seemed to be at a standstill. And suddenly quiet, as if everyone was holding their breath. It was an ordinary day. But Ninoy died and nothing was the same after. Change was in the air.

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