He smiles, but his eyes look wary. Aquino walks out onto the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, while uniformed men prevent his companions from following. Suddenly the sound of a shot rings through the plane. Aquino's traveling companions begin to wail; three more shots sound. The western cameraman filming the event captures the image of two bodies lying on the ground, shot to the head. Soldiers hustle one of the bodies onto a luggage cart. Then, the soldiers come at the cameraman. Ninoy Aquino was dead at the age of 50. Beside him, Rolando Galman also lay dead. Ferdinand Marcos'sregime would blame Galman for killing Aquino - but few historians or citizens of the Philippines give any credence to that claim. Ninoy Aquino's Family History:
Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr., nicknamed "Ninoy," was born into a wealthy landowning family in Conception, Tarlac, the Philippines on November 27, 1932. His grandfather, Servillano Aquino y Aguilar, had been a general in the anti-colonial Philippine Revolution (1896-1898) and Philippine-American War (1898-1902). Grandfather Servillano was exiled to Hong Kong by the Spanish in 1897, along with Emilio Aguinaldo and his revolutionary government. Benigno Aquino Sr., aka "Igno," was a long-time Filipino politician. During the Second World War, he served as Speaker of the National Assembly in the Japanese-controlled government. Following the expulsion of the Japanese, the U.S. jailed Igno in Japan, then extradited him to the Philippines to be tried for treason. He died of a heart attack in December of 1947, before his trial could take place. Ninoy's mother, Aurora Aquino, was his father Igno's third cousin. She married him in 1930 after Igno's first wife died, and the couple had seven children, of whom Ninoy was the second. Ninoy's Early Life:
Ninoy attended several excellent private schools in the Philippines as he was growing up. However, his teen years were full of turmoil. Ninoy's father was jailed as a collaborator when the boy was only 12, and died three years later just after Ninoy's fifteenth birthday. A somewhat indifferent student, Ninoy decided to go to Korea to report on the Korean War at the age of 17 rather than moving on immediately to university. He reported on the war for the Manila Times, earning the Philippine Legion of Honor at 18 for his work. In 1954, when he was 21, Ninoy Aquino began to study law at the University of the Philippines. There, he belonged to the same branch of the Upsilon Sigma Phi fraternity as his future political opponent, Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino's Early Political Start:
The same year that he started law school, Ninoy Aquino married Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco, a fellow law student from a major Chinese/Filipino banking family. The couple had first met at a birthday party when they were both nine years old, and became reacquainted after Corazon returned to the Philippines following her university studies in the United States. Just a year after they married, in 1955, Ninoy was elected mayor of his home town of Concepcion, Tarlac. He was only 22 years old. Ninoy Aquino went on to rack up a string of records for being elected at a young age: he was elected vice-governor of the province at 27, governor at 29, and secretary-general of the Philippines' Liberal Party at 33. Finally, at 34, he became the nation's youngest senator. From his place in the senate, Aquino blasted his former fraternity brother, President Ferdinand Marcos, for setting up a militarized government, and for corruption and extravagance. Ninoy particularly took on First Lady Imelda Marcos, dubbing her the "Philippines' Eva Peron," although as students the two had dated briefly. Ninoy the Opposition Leader:
Charming, and always ready with a good soundbite, Senator Ninoy Aquino settled in to his role as the primary gadfly of the Marcos regime. He consistently blasted the Marcos's financial policies, as well as their spending on personal projects and...