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‘I wished he did not have to leave Boston’

Thirty-seven years ago, in a small room near their garage that fateful day in August of 1983, in Boston, USA, a father gave one wistful look at his son and left the fate of their family to him with the words: “alam mo na lahat ng iyong gagawin (You know what to do).”


Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III looked back to that day when his father, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino II, packed his bag and decided to return to Manila after living in exile for three years.

If he could change the course of history, he would rather that his father did not have to leave Boston.

“I was the one who took him to the airport,” Noynoy said.

Months before Ninoy decided that it was time to come home, Noynoy recalled seeing a rush of visitors to their home in Boston.

Some of them were egging his father on his plan to return. Some of them discouraged him.

Ninoy took a circuitous route from the United States to several Asian cities before landing in Manila from Taipei via China Airlines Flight 811 on August 21, 1983.

Hours later, the son he left behind in Boston, would learn about his father’s assassination from a CNN news report and from a phone call.

Letter from Fort Magsaysay

The young Noynoy was remembered by his classmates at the Ateneo de Manila University as a “quiet” yet “friendly” student.

“He could not go to parties with us on weekends because he was always visiting his dad in prison,” a batchmate said.

His father, then a senator and opposition leader to President Ferdinand Marcos, was incarcerated after the declaration of Martial Law in September, 1972.

In solitary confinement at Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija, the senator wrote his son a letter, asking him to continue the family legacy of working for the good of every Filipino: “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.”

In 1980, his father was allowed after a series of heart attacks, to receive medical treatment in the United States.

Aquino joined the family in a period of self-exile until 1983 when they had to return to the Philippines after the assassination of his father.

Aquino entered public service in 1998 to make sure that the democracy his parents fought for would bring changes in people’s lives.

He served as Representative of the 2nd District of Tarlac from 1998 to 2007.

In May 2007, he joined the Philippine Senate, wherein he worked to bring about legislative initiatives anchored on the protection of human rights and honest and responsible governance.

On June 9, 2010, he was proclaimed President elect of the Philippines.

Aquino skipped last year the commemoration rites for his father’s death anniversary due to illness, according to his sister Kris Aquino.

(Taken from an interview with President Benigno S. Aquino III at his home in Quezon City, August, 2017.)

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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