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A song for Ninoy, Cory and Noynoy

By BABETTE AQUINO-BENOIT, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 19, 2021 6:00 am Updated Aug 19, 2021 1:25 pm

August is a month that reminds me of a pain in my heart and a scar on our nation’s soul.

It was on Aug. 21, exactly 38 years ago, that Ninoy Aquino was gunned to death and proved that “the Filipino is worth dying for,” sadly, by dying for us.

I vividly remember that on that day I was with rallyists holding our yellow ribbons to welcome Ninoy. We were already near the airport when the news broke out and there was chaos on the road. There was chaos, too, in our hearts, but at the airport lounge, Tia Aurora (Aquino) kept her calm as she prayed Psalm 91.

 A pensive moment: Then President Cory Aquino with son Noynoy who later became president too.

This year, the commemoration of Ninoy’s death is doubly painful for us, for we also remember his son Noynoy, our former president who died only last June 24. It is sad that Noynoy died too soon, a sometimes misunderstood man whose depth of being was perhaps grasped only by those close to him. 

He joined his parents Ninoy and Cory, and the other Aquinos who went ahead of him, including my dear cousin Tessie Aquino-Oreta, who passed last year. And then Tio Hermie Aquino also died recently, making us in the second-generation Aquinos feel somewhat empty.

My father, Gonzalo Aquino, and Ninoy’s father, Benigno Aquino Sr., were brothers, and Tio Hermie was their youngest brother in a brood of five, all children of Servillano Aquino.

 Former Congessman Hermie Aquino

We Aquino cousins had bonding moments in Tarlac. Of course, we looked up to our older cousin Ninoy as our idol, for he had manifested his brilliance early on. And a sense of wit and humor. I remember how Ninoy would always give us advice; he would often tease me as being too skinny then.

Now my heart is full and weighty with memories of him and his nobility of purpose. From idol, he has become my childhood hero — everybody’s hero.

 Former Senator Tessie Aquino-Oreta

On Aug. 21, Ninoy Aquino Day will be marked by a tribute song entitled Pangarap ng Bayan, with lyrics penned by our talented cousin, poet-writer Gil Yuzon, and music by composer/arranger Noel Espenida.

Sung by the internationally acclaimed Philippine Madrigal Singers, with Anthony Carpio as choirmaster, a music video will be posted online, produced by Aurora Oreta and Yuzon with the team of Jeremy Carlos directing, Richwell Espenida mixing and mastering, and Cecile Perpinan as project coordinator.

 Doña Aurora Aquino flanked by the author Babette Aquino and her late husband Paul Benoit

This stirring music video pays tribute to and hopes to keep alive the patriotic and civic legacies of outstanding Filipinos, past and present, which remain relevant and needed for our times. This first undertaking honors the respective legacies of Ninoy Aquino, his wife Cory, and their son Noynoy, who have touched the lives of this generation.

The video is produced by Kilusang Pamana (Legacy Movement), composed of the second- and third-generation Aquinos. 

The author with President Noynoy Aquino

The music can also be viewed on Facebook and Instagram via the hashtag #NinoyAko.