Copied from “Human Society No. 21,” published by the La Ignaciana Apostolic Center on September 1, 1983. The day before, Ninoy Aquino’s funeral had drawn millions of people into the streets. Titled (perhaps by the issue editor?) “New Turn of Events,” this was Cory Aquino’s response to Jaime Cardinal Sin’s homily at the funeral Mass in Sto. Domingo Church, in Quezon City. We did not know it yet, but it marked her assumption of opposition leadership. (In copying the remarks, I retained the misspellings and floating commas.)
I talked to Ninoy for the last time on August 20, 7 p.m., Boston time, which was August 21, 7 a.m., Taipeh time. He told me that he would soon be leaving for the airport. I told him I was informed that Gen. Ver had warned any airline bringing Ninoy in that Ninoy would not be allowed to disembark, and that the airline would be asked to fly Ninoy back to his original port of embarcation.
Ninoy said that they could not do that to him because he is, was, and always will be a Filipino. And he told me that most likely he would be rearrested and brought back to Fort Bonifacio. In that case, he said he would ask Gen. Josephus Ramas to allow him to call me up. If, on the other hand, he would be placed under house arrest, he would call me up as soon as he arrived at our home in Quezon City. Then he told me that if we were brought back to Fort Bonifacio, there would be no need for me to hurry home. Instead, he said I should take my time finishing my packing. And in the event that our children and I would be issued passports, he said that I should take our three older daughters on a side trip to Europe.
Our only son Noynoy and our youngest daughter Kris were scheduled to leave for Manila a week after Ninoy arrived.
At 2:30 a.m., Sunday, August 21, Boston time, the phone rang and my oldest daughter Ballsy who answered it, was shocked when Kyodo agency in New York, asked her if it were true that her father had been killed in the Manila International Airport. They were asking for her confirmation. UPI and AP also called asking for verification; but it wasn’t until Congressman Shintaro Ishihara of Japan called me from Tokyo and verified the shooting report, that my family had to accept the cruel fact that Ninoy had been shot dead.
The children and I cried when I told them of the bad news. After a few minutes, we all knelt down to pray the rosary and ask the Blessed Mother for help.
We arrived in Manila on Wednesday, August 24. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a huge crowd at our home in Times St. waiting patiently in line to view Ninoy’s body. I was overwhelmed by this extraordinary display of love and devotion.
I had asked that my children and I be given a few minutes to be alone with our beloved Ninoy. We wanted to have him to ourselves for a few private, and cherished moments. From that first night of our return to Manila, my children and I continue to witness an even greater display of love, respect and admiration for Ninoy.
Our friends have been very kind and generous to us; but even more comforting is the sight and presence of countless men and women who did not even know Ninoy but are now helping to make our lives a little less difficult by demonstrating to us that we are not alone.
The huge throng that met us the other day when we journeyed from Tarlac to Manila must have numbered in the millions. They had waited for hours and hours under the hot sun and no doubt had gone hungry and thirsty but had patiently waited if only to catch a glimpse of my husband’s hearse.
If my children and I appear to be brave during this, the most difficult period yet of our lives, it is because we know that this is what Ninoy would have expected of us. It is also because of our faith in God, and the belief that he is now helping us in this, our greatest need.
And so today, I wish to thank all the Filipino men and women, young and old, who have demonstrated to me, to my children, to Ninoy’s mother and to his family, that Ninoy did not die in vain.
Ninoy, who loved you, the Filipino people, is now loved in turn.