Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The AQUINO's: A Hero's Letter to his Son

So perhaps I've been guilty of bashing the Philippine Government lately, in lieu of the recent Super Typhoon HAIYAN (a.k.a. Yolanda). 

Yes, I have been complaining. A lot. And frankly, I am not ashamed of it at all. There are times, I believe, when we need to complain, in order for us to get the results that we want. Results that we deserve. 

But then again, I sat back and thought, maybe I've been a bit too harsh on the administration. Maybe, to be fair, I should learn more about the President. So I did just that... I looked for more information about him and how he spent his early years, his educational background, his accomplishments, his work experience...

But there's this one thing I found that really struck me. The one thing that pierced my heart. It's a letter from his dad. The letter that later convinced him to run for President.

Upon reading it, I couldn't help but cry. I sobbed in front of my computer screen for quite some time. Maybe the exact same thing will happen to you too. And I'll understand why. 

On August, 25, 1973, Our beloved Ninoy Aquino wrote this letter to his son, Noynoy, while detained in Fort Bonifacio for“advocating the overthrow of the government by force or violence,” 
My Dearest Son,
“One of these days, when you have completed your studies I am sure you will have the opportunity to visit many countries. And in your travels you will witness a bullfight.
“In Spanish bullfighting as you — now a man — know, the matador is pitted against an angry bull. The man goads the bull to extreme anger and madness. Then a moment comes when the bull, maddened, bleeding and covered with darts, feeling his last moment has come, stops rushing about and grimly turns his face on the man with the scarlet ‘muleta’ and sword. The Spaniards call this ‘the moment of truth.’ This is the climax of the bullfight.
“This afternoon, I have arrived at my own moment of truth. After a lengthy conference with my lawyers, Senators Jovito R. Salonga and Lorenzo TaƱada, I made a very crucial and vital decision that will surely affect all our lives: Mommy’s, your sisters’, yours and our entire loved ones as well as mine.
“I have decided not to participate in the proceedings of the Military Commission assigned to try the charges filed against me by the army prosecution staff. As you know, I’ve been charged with illegal possession of firearms, violation of R.A. 1700, otherwise known as the ‘Anti-Subversion Act,’ and murder.
“You are still too young to grasp the full impact of my decision. Briefly, by not participating in the proceedings, I will not be represented by counsel; the prosecution will present its witnesses without any cross examinations; I will not put up any defense; I will remain passive and quiet through the entire trial; and I will merely await the verdict. In as much as it will be a completely one-sided affair, I suppose it is reasonable to expect that the maximum penalty will be given to me. I expect to be sentenced to imprisonment the rest of my natural life, or possibly be sent to stand before a firing squad. By adopting the course of action I decided upon this afternoon, I have literally decided to walk into the very jaws of death.
“You may ask: ‘Why did you do it?’
“Son, my decision is an act of conscience. It is an act of protest against the structures of injustice that have been imposed upon our hapless countrymen. Futile and puny as it will surely appear too many, it is last my act to defiance against tyranny and dictatorship.
“You are my only son. You carry my name and the name of my father. I have no material wealth to leave you; I never had time to make money while I was in the hire of our people. For this I am very sorry. I had hopes of building a little nest egg for you. I bought a ranch in Masbate in the hope that after 10 or 15 years, the coconut trees I planted there would yield enough to assure you a modest but comfortable existence. Unfortunately, I had to sell all our properties as I fought battle after political battle as a beleaguered member of the opposition. And after the last battle, I had more obligations than assets.
“The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you now is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now pass it on to you, as good, I pray, as when my father, your grandfather, passed it on to me.
“I prepared a statement, which I intended to read before the Military Commission on Monday at the opening of my trial. I hope the commission members will be understanding and kind enough to allow me to read my statement into the record. This may well be my first and only participation in the entire proceedings.
“In this statement I said: Some people suggested that I beg for mercy from the present powers that be. Son, this I cannot do in conscience. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than live on bended knees in shame.
“Your great-grandfather, General Servillano Aquino, was twice condemned to death by both the Spaniards and the American colonizers. Fortunately, he survived both by a twist of fate. Your grandfather, my father, was also imprisoned by the Americans because he loved his people more than he Americans who colonized us. He was finally vindicated. Our ancestors have shared the pains, the sorrows and the anguish of Mother Filipinas when she was in bondage.
“It is a rare privilege for me to join the Motherland in the dark dungeon where she was led back by one of her own sons whom she lavished with love and glory.
“I ended my statement thus: I have chosen to follow my conscience and accept the tyrant’s revenge.
“It takes little effort to stop a tyrant. I have no doubt in the ultimate victory of right over wrong, of good over evil, in the awakening of the Filipino.
“Forgive me for passing unto your young shoulders the great responsibilities for our family. I trust you will love your mother and your sisters and lavish them with the care and protection I would have given them.
“I was barely 15 years old when my father died. His death was my most traumatic experience. I loved and hero-worshipped him so much; I wanted to join him in his grave when he passed away. But as in all sorrows, eventually they are washed away by the rains of time.
“In the coming years, I hope you will study very hard so that you will have a solid foundation on which to build your future. I may no longer be around to give you my fatherly advice. I have asked many of your uncles to help you along should the need arise, and I pray you will have the humility to drink from their fountain of experience.
“Look after your two younger sisters with understanding and affection. Viel and Krissy will need your umbrella of protection for a long time. Krissy is still very young and fate has been most unkind to both of us. Our parting came too soon. Please make up for me. Take care of her as I would have taken care of her with patience and warm affection.
“Finally, stand by your mother as she stood beside me through the buffeting winds of crisis and uncertainties, firm and resolute and uncowed. I pray to God you inherit her indomitable spirit and her rare brand of silent courage.
“I had hopes of introducing you to my friends, showing you the world and guiding you through the maze of survival; I am afraid you will now have to go it alone without your guide.
“The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience.
“There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.
“Son, the ball is now in your hands.”

At first I couldn't really explain what I was feeling. All I knew was my heart was breaking while reading this. Maybe because I pictured a father who had high hopes for his son, a father who hoped so much that his son will continue what he has started. A father who prayed that his son will stand for the same things that he stood for, fight with the same strength, and courage, and steadfastness as he has, and loved the Filipino people with the same passion, and gratitude, and faithfulness as he did.  I cried because, here, today... I see the kind of leader his son ended up becoming. 

In his letter, Ninoy repeatedly mentioned this word: "CONSCIENCE". And he always equated it with HONOR. 

“The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience.

“There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength.
“Son, the ball is now in your hands.”

Perhaps I cried, because looking at what is happening today, I am angry. I am frustrated. I am anguished. Because Ninoy is dead. Because... this letter reminded me of how different things could have been if he were still alive. Surely, he would have shown his son how to be TRUE LEADER . The kind of leader that our great nation deserves. 

The Filipinos need to complain. Protest. Fight!   As an act of CONSCIENCE! Otherwise... Ninoy died for nothing.  Absolutely nothing. And what a waste that would be.

Copy of the actual letter shared with the Public by the Aquino Family (Page 1 of 3)

A copy of the actual letter shared with the
public by the Aquino Family. (Page 2 of 3)
A copy of the actual letter shared with the public  by the Aquino Family (Page 3 of 3)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Of Love and Respect: An Open Letter

Hi. I wrote this for you because I want you to know something:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

PILIPINAS: Get Ready For The Next One.

Pilipinas: Get Ready For the Next One

I remember back in 2009, when Typhoon Ondoy wreaked havoc in the Philippines and caused severe damage, not to mention hundreds of casualties and thousands of families rendered homeless with not enough food, clean drinking water, and medicine for weeks. I remember over-populated evacuation centers where people were developing all sorts of sicknesses. I remember watching the news, and seeing video footages of people disappearing under the water, huge vehicles, and even houses being carried away by the flash floods as if they were paper boats.

I remember watching on television, celebrities leading telethons, raising funds to help the victims of the floods and relief operations being conducted in several parts of the country, while rescue teams and concerned citizens worked together to help stranded families. I remember countries from all over the world, sending donations. I remember people praying together. ONE nation, slowly rising from it all…

Looking back, I was amazed at how resilient the Filipinos truly are. It was very inspiring.
But, don’t be too quick to assume that I’m writing a tear-jerker. Not at all, folks. Because fast forward to 2012, and it’s all happening all over again. 

Now, I’m living in a different country, which puts things in a whole different perspective. Not that I don’t admire the Filipinos’ resilience, and compassion and team work. That trip down memory lane made me feel proud. 
HOWEVER, we’ve done a lot of  the praying, and the donating, and the rescuing, and the recovering….But I have one question: Has anybody really come up with any long-term solutions to these flash floods? Because let’s face it, floods are part of nature. They WILL keep happening. In fact, according to research, the Earth’s climate is continuously warming up, which means: MORE floods to come in the years ahead! The Filipinos are survivors, yes. But why “survive” it when we can prevent it.

Now before some smart-ass reader asks “Seriously, how can we stop the rain from falling? ….A Sun-dance?” :-/

I’m talking about flood preventive measures that are already being utilized in other countries for sooo many years now.

I’m talking widening the dams that we already have, and building dry dams, that serve purely for flood control without any conservation storage.
I’m talking river defenses like levees, and reservoirs, and weirs, and Coastal defenses such as sea walls, and barrier islands.

How about some wiser planning of land use by developers before cutting down all the trees, and building condominiums?!

Or widening and deepening the drains in flood-prone areas? Or improving waste management so as to prevent the drains from clogging? In addition to public awareness and early preparation BEFORE the rainy season starts. 

Ladies and gents, I can go on and on.  Go ahead and do your own research about the best practices on flood prevention, protection and mitigation, as concluded by other countries that have been through massive floods back in the day and refused to go through it again.
 It’s frustrating to see our brothers and sisters struggling through this calamity when we should’ve learned from last time, and the time before, and the time before.
A wise person once said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. It’s time we do more than praying, and fund-raising, and donating, and recovering.  Getting up from a fall is not enough. We must move forward.

To know more about flood control, prevention, protection, and mitigation done in other countries, please see the following references:


Check this out, Tokyo’s gigantic subterranean water infrastructure project: (I know, I know…. They have Yen, we have pesos. But it IS, undeniably, an awesome idea.)
I am posting this now, hoping to inspire some people in authority to take action.

Because, like it or not….the next flood is coming.

-From a concerned but still hopeful Filipino,
Jen Bautista