Article by: Liz Kang
Photographs by: Maxine Alindogan
In accordance with Republic Act 9265, the government of the Philippines declared August 21st, Ninoy Aquino Day, as a national holiday in the Philippines. But, contrary to many students’ belief, Ninoy Aquino Day is more than just a ticket out of school.
Ninoy Aquino day is a day of commemoration of one of the most venerated heroes in Philippine history, Aquino, who actively fought against the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. Due to his firm opposition against the government, he was imprisoned for eight years and was even exiled. However, his determination to free his fellow Filipinos from martial law led him to continue his fight for democracy. He delivered speeches to the Filipino community and even planned to challenge Marcos during the Election of 1984. However, on August 21, 1983, Aquino was assassinated at the Manila International Airport (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) upon his return to the Philippines. This not only sparked large-scale protests by the Filipino activists, but also led to the Edsa Revolution (1986). Although the assassination of Ninoy Aquino was undoubtedly one of the saddest events in the Philippines’ history, it definitely motivated Filipino citizens to restore their lost freedom.
Thus for students across the Philippines, August 21 is more than just a school holiday: it is a day for them to reflect and to remember one of the Philippines’ greatest heroes. One Filipino student, Alex Bernas, noted that Ninoy Aquino day is a day that allows Filipinos “to remember the milestones that helped shaped their society.” She further commented that this holiday enables Filipinos “to preserve their history and culture.” The, she stressed that Filipinos should never forget the “nuns, military personnel, students, politicians, foreigners, and everybody else who railed alongside Ninoy Aquino.” One of the service staff of ISM also commented on the fact that Ninoy Aquino Day is a “day for us to honor the sacrifices of Ninoy Aquino” and his fight for democracy. To sum everything up, Julie Kang, a Korean student, said, “having lived in the Philippines for 7 years, I have learned that Ninoy Aquino Day is not just a simple work-off holiday, but a day for all Filipinos and even foreigners to become united and honor all those who supported Ninoy Aquino and his campaign to end Marcos’s tyranny.”