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    Remembering the Greatness of the Filipino People

    Message at the UST SHS 1st Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Advocacy Lecture: A Forum on the Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution

    Dr. Rodrigo Litao, UST Senior High School Asst. Principal; of course, Prof. Froilan Alipao, Asst. Director of the UST Simbahayan Community Development Office; Prof. Tyrone Nepomuceno, UST SHS Community Development Coordinator; the faculty and staff of the UST Senior High School; our dear Thomasians; I was told there are representatives of the Ateneo Casa Familia—I don’t know if you’re here; honored guests; my dear students; ladies and gentlemen: Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! [applause]

    Parating masaya bumalik sa UST. Dr. Litao was asking me earlier if the last time I was here was during the debates, during the campaign. Suwerte sa akin iyong UST, eh. [laughter] Noong dito iyong debate, after the debate, umakyat ako ng 10 points sa survey. Dahil siguro iyon sa UST.

    But you know, that was not the last time. In fact, this year, this is already my third time to be back. I was invited first to grace an event at the Medicine Theater (Medicine Auditorium), but it was an event of the UST College of Commerce and Business Ad[ministration]. And a few weeks ago, or last month, ano din, invited ako to the PR Congress, also here in UST. And this is the 3rd time.

    And iyong added bonus is that I also have a daughter— My youngest daughter, Jillian, is about the same age as you are; nasa senior high din siya, Grade 12, magga-graduate din siya ngayong taon. In fact, one of her childhood best friends, and still one of her best friends now is here: siya iyong may hawak ng “Silence Please“—[laughter]—si Brie, si Brigette. Parang anak ko iyan, natutulog iyan parati sa bahay. Isa siya sa mga…

    Siya iyong tinanungan ko, actually. Kinukuwento ko sa mga student council, I did not know what to wear, kasi parating kapag magsasalita, parating naka-dress. But I am proceeding in another speaking event in Laguna right after this, so sabi ko magbibihis pa pala ako ng pantalon. Tinanong ng anak ko si Brie, anong isusuot noong mga mag-a-attend. Sabi ni Brie ay Type B. Siyempre hindi namin alam iyong Type B, kaya nagpadala pa si Brie ng picture noon, kaya salamat, Brie. Saka alam ko din na napakaaga niyong nag-report ngayon. Noong gumising ako ng 6 o’clock, sabi ni Jillian, “Mama, si Brie, nasa school na.“

    So as I have said, it is always good to be back. I was almost a Thomasian—kinuwento ko na din… kinuwento ko na din sa student council niyo, nagtsismisan kami earlier. But you know, being invited to talk on a subject that is very close to my heart is again an added bonus.

    I was asked to talk today about Martial Law and the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986, both of which I lived through as a student when I was younger, kasing edad ninyo. I am not sure if you talked with your parents about these events, but I believe that they will mean more to you when you hear about them from people you love, as opposed to reading about them in books. Kapag binabasa niyo sa books, napaka-uninteresting, pero kapag kinukuwento, mas excited saka mas tagos. Today, I am going to share with you some of the things I witnessed and some of the things experienced during the EDSA Revolution, but I hope that you would start a conversation with your parents, your teachers, and other family members about EDSA.

    I was born and raised in Naga City. Siguro alam niyo naman iyon, nasa Bicol, south of Manila. That was where I… [laughter]… that was where—Nandoon ang Mayon Volcano. [applause] That was where I spent my Grade School and my High School years. But I went to UP for college and I took up Economics. Iyon iyong kuwento ko na almost a Thomasian: nandito na ako—sabi ko sa kanila mayroon na akong block, etcetera, etcetera—pero Bio[logy] iyong course ko dito; noong nakapasa ako sa UP, parang mas… mas… mas… ano iyon, mas pinlano ng pamilya na mag-aabogado ako kaysa doktor. Paminsan pinagsisisihan ko, pero tapos na iyon. [laughter]

    I was 17 years old when I first entered UP in 1982. At that time, President Marcos was our President, and he had been President also for 17 years. He was first elected in 1965, the year I was born. And I would learn later on that our Constitution at that time—1935 Constitution—stated that a president can only stay in power for two four-year terms, or a maximum of eight years. Pero bakit naging 17 years si Marcos?

    Marcos was first elected, sabi ko nga, in 1965. He was reelected in 1969 and his term should have ended in 1973, and he would not have been eligible for another reelection under the Constitution. But just before his term ended, he declared Martial Law in 1972 and no elections were held until Martial Law was lifted in 1981—a feat that allowed him to stay in power for 21 years. So siya iyong pinakamatagal naging pangulo.

    I was not politically active when I first entered UP. In fact, wala akong pakialam. I was a bit detached from it all. My main focus at that time was to finish my studies at UP, where I took up Economics. The plan was for me to enter law school and be a lawyer like my dad. My father was a long-time judge. My father was a long-time judge in our city, and because I was the eldest daughter, I was… pinaplano ng pamilya na maging katulad din ako ng tatay ko. Siguro marami sa inyo iyong ganiyan din. Pero sumunod ako, sumunod ako, na maging judge din like my father.

    But some of my friends, some of my classmates, were already joining protest rallies, because even after Martial Law was lifted, a lot of abuses still persisted. But at that time, the only thing I knew about Martial Law was the nationwide curfew, where everyone had to be home before midnight. Siyempre ayaw niyo iyon. Anyone out in the streets after 12 midnight was arrested and incarcerated.

    I was in my second year in UP when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. Ninoy was a former Senator and was one of the very few who had the courage to point out the excesses of the administration. As a result, he was one of the first persons arrested and jailed right after Marcos declared Martial Law. He was accused of being a Communist and was sentenced to death by a kangaroo military court. He was imprisoned for more than seven years, and there was a time he was placed in solitary confinement in Laur in Nueva Ecija, where he was banned from any contact with the outside world. When he was in jail, he did something very brave that almost took his life but caught international attention: a hunger strike, which left him skin and bones. Talagang sobrang payat na niya noon.

    Ninoy, after that, got very sick and his doctors said he needed a heart bypass. Because of mounting international pressure, Marcos allowed Ninoy to go to the United States for medical treatment. He had to stay in the US for three years, but he longed to come home because he was worried that the Filipino people would think he had forsaken them. Pero ayaw siyang pabalikin. He and his family knew that his life would be in danger if he went back, but he flew back home anyway. On August 21, 1983, after taking a few steps down the stairs—siguro napanood niyo na din iyong mga footage—of the airplane that took him home to his beloved country, he was shot at the back of his head while surrounded by soldiers. His feet never touched the ground of the country he longed to see.

    I still clearly remember that Sunday afternoon. Nasa dorm ako; sa dorm ako tumira for four years. We were watching basketball on TV, sa common room ng dorm, when a fellow dormer suddenly switched channels saying that somebody had been shot at the airport. Then we saw a sight we will never forget: that of Ninoy’s body sprawled on the tarmac. Naka-all white siya.

    I did not know Ninoy personally, but my friends and I lined up at his house in Times Street to pay our respects. Millions of Filipinos from all walks of life had the same idea—ang tagal naming pumila—and the lines stretched for miles. It was not until 3 a.m., 3 in the morning when we finally made it to his casket.

    In many ways, the sight of his bloodied face and his death changed me. Alam niyo naman, ‘di ba, hindi nilinis iyong kaniyang mukha. It opened my eyes to a lot of bitter realities. Apparently, it also did the same thing to a lot of people, causing what one writer called “a silent, simmering anger” among millions of Filipinos. Sensing this and afraid of his rising influence after his death, the government told the state-controlled media to report that there were only a handful of mourners for Senator Ninoy. Iyong media kampi lahat sa gobyerno. But a magazine called Mr. & Ms., the only surviving independent press at that time, which published its pages in places hidden to the government, showed the real score. Members of the foreign press also came, witnessing how millions had come to bury Ninoy, and the government had no way to stop the outpouring of grief. And the state-controlled media? One of them chose to publish instead a story about a man struck by lightning in Luneta. Hindi nila ni-report iyong libing. But the whispers, “Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa,” passed from lips to lips and kindled something in the Filipino people.

    Ninoy’s death changed the course of our nation’s history forever. His death made many Filipinos realize that from the beginning, everything was a game of manipulation. Ito, ito, pakinggan ninyo ito.

    For one, we were always made to believe that Martial Law was proclaimed September 21, 1972. ‘Di ba kapag Martial Law, September 21, 1972 iyon. Official records all point to that date, instead of the 24th, when Proclamation 1081 was actually signed. Hindi September 21, pero iyong actual date was September 24. You never would have guessed why he (Marcos) made it appear that the proclamation was signed on the 21st. Hulaan niyo kung ano iyong dahilan—seven was his lucky number. And the number 21 was divisible by seven, so pinalabas na September 21.

    In a televised speech, Marcos said he was declaring Martial Law “to prevent the danger of a violent overthrow and insurrection…of a rebellion” to be staged by the NPA, the New People’s Army, who he claimed had the firepower to execute plans against the government. Parang pinalabas noon na ang lakas-lakas ng NPA, kayang mag-stage ng nationwide rebellion. And to prove his point that the whole country was in danger, then-Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack Wack Subdivision in Greenhills the night before Martial Law was declared. Many years later, we would learn that Senator Enrile—from Senator Enrile himself—that his ambush was fake. It was staged to justify the declaration of Martial Law. That explained why, despite the fact that his car was riddled with bullets, no one was injured or no one died. Iyon iyong palaisipan noon; iyon pala, drama lang.

    Marcos depended on more lies to create the impression that he was the right leader during times of national danger. He claimed that he received multiple war medals during the Second World War. However, it was uncovered later on, through the research done by Primitivo Mijares and Bonifacio Gillego, that those medals were fake. Fact number one, Marcos was never in Bessang Pass—it was his claim before; two, the United States in fact charged him with desertion; three, he was not in any of the United States’ list of recipients of medals and awards; and finally, General Douglas MacArthur, who was supposed to have given him one of the medals, never mentioned him in his biography.

    The government also consistently painted a rosy picture of the Philippine economy. In fact, it has been discovered that until very recently, some textbooks in public schools stated that the Martial Law era was the “golden age” of the Philippines. The lies had continued until today, even though the numbers show that this is far from the truth.

    In 1970, the Philippine peso plummeted by a staggering 40 percent and a total of more than 80 percent before he was ousted in 1986. It was also during his term that we hit our highest debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 90 percent. People’s incomes dropped lowest in 1983 to 1985, while the incomes of people from our Southeast Asian neighbors were soaring. Naiwan tayo sa Southeast Asia. To make matters worse, prices of basic commodities went up by 50 percent, the highest in history. If that happened today, iyong 100 pesos niyong burger, 150 pesos na agad. In just five years, from 1977 to 1982, the Marcos government had borrowed $16 billion and total debt had reached $24.4 billion at the end of the period. It is said that a lot of Filipinos, including you and perhaps your children—and siguro apo niyo pa—will continue to pay the debts that the Marcos government incurred. The Philippines was left behind and we had become “the sick man of Asia” under the Marcos regime.

    Marcos remained in power, gaya ng sabi ko kanina, for 21 years because he did not allow elections to happen so that new leaders can take the helm. Newspapers, radio, and television stations that were critical of the administration were shut down. Those who spoke ill of the government or were merely suspected of being subversive could be the subject of arrests without warrants, tortures, killings, and mysterious disappearances. People spoke in hushed whispers about their fears.

    Cases of torture, documented by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, the London-based Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, and the World Council of Churches based in Geneva, Switzerland, showed that the Marcos government’s acts of torture were tools to stifle opposition and show that the government was powerful. Amnesty International called it “state-controlled machinery to suppress dissent.”

    Loretta Ann Rosales—nakikita niyo na siguro siya, si Etta Rosales, the former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights—was one of those tortured and sexually harassed. Kinukuwento niya of how they tied wires to her fingers and toes, and electrocuted her in what they called “The Hawaii Five-O.” ‘Di ko alam kung bakit “Hawaii Five-O,” but it was named after a popular television show before. She said the voltage kept increasing until all she could do was scream. Victims of these electrocutions could not walk straight, suffered from burns, and even hallucinated. Maraming pareho ni Etta Rosales.

    Another form of torture, also used on Etta Rosales, was called the “water cure.” Siguro may idea kayo kung ano iyon. A large piece of cloth was soaked in water and then wrapped tightly around her face, sometimes a rag was rammed down her mouth. And then they started asking if she knew certain persons who were part of the underground movement. All of these methods of torture made you want to say something that was not true, just to make it all stop.

    The “wet submarine” was when the captors could not make you admit that you were a member of the NPA, even after a lot of beating. Ito, nakakadiri ito: they would dunk your head in a toilet bowl full of excrement.

    Journalist Pete Lacaba told of how he was given the “truth serum”, a drug to make a person talk. He said he was placed in a hypnotic trance, lying on a couch facing a flickering light. Then he felt a needle prick on his forearm. After that, he was questioned for four hours while he was half-conscious. Truth serum in huge doses can ruin a person’s mind, and in fact many of those who were victims of this method of torture ended up confined in mental wards.

    According to Amnesty International, about 70,000 people were imprisoned, while 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed during Martial Law from 1972 to 1986. Parang ngayon kulang na iyong 3,000 killed, ano? Nasasanay na tayo sa maraming namamatay.

    All of these sowed so much terror among our people. So much so, that growing opposition and international pressure eventually forced Marcos to lift Martial Law on January 17, 1981. Na-lift na. And yet nothing had really changed. Ang na-lift lang iyong curfew, pero iyong disappearances nandoon pa din. The Filipino people continued to live in fear.

    Looking back, Ninoy was a flicker of hope in a time of great darkness. His death opened our eyes to the lies and abuses of the Marcos regime. It sparked something in the hearts of Filipinos who, by that time, had been living in fear for almost two decades already. If you can imagine how terror works, you can appreciate how even students, who are almost your age at that time, tried to make a stand.

    [University bell rings.] Pinapahinto na ba ako? [laughter; university bell rings again] High-tech pala iyong UST, ano? Mayroong ganoon. [laughter] Okay?

    Opposition at that time started to grow. People were fed up with the lies, manipulation, and the rule of terror. Young people like you were already restless. They felt they could no longer stand by and tolerate a regime that had trampled on our rights as a people and the very foundations of our freedoms and our democracy. The rallies became very, very frequent already, with every rally more well-attended than the last one.

    Kasali na ako doon; sumasali na parati sa rallies. I can still remember one afternoon when I was in my senior year, I attended an ROTC graduation at the UP Sunken Garden. Ang guest of honor noon si General [Fabian] Ver, and General Ver was the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and he was Marcos’ closest confidant. Students looked crisp in their military uniform, standing at attention. But iyong pagtugtog ng Lupang Hinirang, noong nagsimula nang itugtog iyong Lupang Hinirang, isa-isa, isa isa sa mga—‘di ba kapag Lupang Hinirang… ano iyong tawag doon? Tikas ba?—isa-isa bumabagsak iyong mga rifles, and kapag bumabagsak iyong mga rifles, pinapalitan nila ng ganoon. [raises fist] Students were raising their fists in protest. All of us who were watching were thunderstruck. Hindi iyon puwede noong panahon iyon. It was a very brave thing to do at a time when there was so much fear of the dictator. It was one of the most dramatic gestures during that time that I will never forget.

    Marcos could feel the anger and the restlessness, but he thought that he was still invincible because the powers-that-be were still behind him and were still supportive of him. To prove that he still had the support of the Filipino people, he called for a snap election, perhaps believing that no one would be brave enough to fight him. One person was, and that person was Cory Aquino, Ninoy’s widow. She was very reluctant at first, but accepted the challenge because she knew that she was the only one who could unite the opposition. Marcos dismissed her saying she knew nothing because she was a mere housewife. He campaigned using the buzzwords “Walang Alam.” Kapag umikot ka noong kampanya, ang daming nakapaskil na “Walang Alam,” referring to Cory Aquino.

    But people went out in droves, volunteering their time and contributing their resources. Some known Cory supporters like Evelio Javier of Antique was murdered. There were a lot of election-related violence, but the people never wavered. Matapang na iyong mga tao at the time. During the counting of ballots, widespread cheating was done to make sure Cory would not win. Election returns were tampered [with], prompting Comelec employees to walk out in protest. Iyong mga Comelec employees na nag-e-encode ng results, nakita nila na tina-tamper. Nag-walk out sila, en masse. Of course, Marcos won in the counting and was proclaimed winner by the Marcos-controlled Congress.

    The people refused to accept Marcos’ win. Discontent, anger, and hope all mixed to fuel a demonstration that changed our nation. Little did they know that it was the beginning of real change. People went out to the streets in protest, this time more passionate and more brave.

    Pero mayroong nangyaring kakaiba. On February 22, 1986—gabi iyon—Defense Secretary Enrile and Vice Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos held a press conference that shocked the nation. They were withdrawing their allegiance to President Marcos, claiming that Cory Aquino was the duly elected President. Knowing that Enrile’s and Ramos’ lives were already in danger, Cardinal Sin went on radio, calling on people to go to EDSA, near Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, where Enrile and FVR were, to protect them. In a matter of minutes, EDSA was full of people. We were all there not just to protect Enrile and Ramos, but also to ask the dictator to step down.

    Classes were still ongoing—February iyon—but our teachers knew that we were facing life-changing lessons that could not be learned inside our classrooms. We were encouraged to join the rallies in EDSA and were assured that our grades would not suffer because of it. Sarap, ‘no? [laughter] That act alone spoke volumes to our generation about how our elders valued the concepts of freedom and democracy.

    EDSA showed us the best of the Filipino. We fought firepower with flowers and our prayers. We were able to oust a dictator with nothing but our indomitable spirits. EDSA was where we felt hope again. It was where we realized that evil will never triumph, that nothing is impossible if we truly set our hearts to it, and that power truly rests in the hands of the Filipino people. Such were the powerful messages of EDSA. It was a beautiful time to be a Filipino. It was a proud moment for all of us.

    Together, we fought for our people’s freedoms and liberties, so that you can enjoy yours. After Marcos left the country and we started to rebuild our flagging democracy, our people ratified a new constitution that enshrined and protected your right to speak dissent, to be protected by law against unlawful arrests, and to have a press that is free, among others.

    Thirty two years after, our country is again at crossroads. If people today feel that democracy has not worked, if we are disenchanted with freedom and the rule of law, it is not because the revolution failed us. It is because we failed the revolution. And like many of us years ago, your generation must choose where to stand to make sure we do not fail. There is still time.

    How do we do it? Let me ask you some questions. Will you choose to be grateful every day for life and the liberty to live it the way you want? Will you choose to be grateful every day for your rights and the sacrifices of those who made it possible to enjoy them? Will you choose to live every day in a way that honors those who have fallen, by taking care of each other better?

    Ask yourself: What is your generation’s EDSA?

    It should no longer be a revolution or an uprising. We no longer need a hero or a one-time revolution. What we need are our collective, daily acts of kindness; respect for people’s rights; and servant-leadership. We do not need new saviors; our new heroes should be you.

    These realizations are critical today, when there are signs that some of those things we talked about are happening again. The media is under attack, those who speak dissent are bullied or trolled—in real life and in social media. People are arrested, tortured, and killed because they are on a drug list. The task of nation-building remains up to this day. We have not fulfilled our responsibility to our nation if we forget what EDSA is all about.

    So boys and girls, our work is not yet done. EDSA was just the beginning; you are its conclusion. And at this crossroad in our nation’s history, when progress is almost within our grasp, that work—the need to care for each other better—is more important than ever.

    You do not have to die for our country like Ninoy. It is better to live for it by taking care of the poor and powerless. At the Office of the Vice President, despite our very limited mandate and our limited resources, we chose to do our part through our three core programs—the Angat Buhay, our anti-poverty program in the poorest areas of the country; our Angat Kabuhayan, our program that creates jobs; and Istorya ng Pag-Asa, our program that tries to fight negativity through stories of hope.

    We have invited many young people to join us in our programs. We would like to invite you also. You will meet so many inspiring and unforgettable people, go to inspiring places, that will fill your life with meaning and purpose.

    The story of Siayan is one of my favorites. Siayan is a 2nd-class municipality in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. In 2009, Siayan’s poverty incidence was a staggering 97.5 percent. The people of Siayan could hardly eat three meals a day and did not even know what a “snack” was.

    But a mayor named Flora Villarosa changed the town’s future. Siayan is now one of our adopted Angat Buhay communities. In 2016, we partnered with the Philippine Toy Library and opened a beautiful playspace for the children of Siayan. We also have an ongoing feeding program for more than 800 malnourished children in partnership with Hapag-asa.

    Last Thursday—dumating lang kami kahapon—noong Huwebes, we returned to Siayan once again to inaugurate a dormitory for boys at the Siayan National High School. The dormitory is in partnership with our Angat Buhay partner, Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. Twenty-five boys, from Grades 7 to 10, are now occupying the dormitory in Siayan—for free. When we talked to them, we found out that they live at least 6 kilometers away from school. Iyong iba mas malayo, may 8 kilometers, etcetera.

    One of them is Rain-Rain Tusing. Kakaiba iyong pangalan niya, si Rain-Rain. Rain-Rain is 17 years old and is in Grade 10. To get to school, he walks for two hours each way and needs to cross two rivers. When there is a typhoon, the water level would immediately rise, making it impossible and dangerous to cross, so hindi rin siya makapasok. He wakes up at 4 o’clock in the morning, sometimes 3 o’clock, but still arrives late because of the long distance he has to travel. As a result, sabi niya, he would receive multiple warnings, filling up an entire bond paper’s worth of violations. According to him, he is very happy now to be a dormer because he won’t miss the daily flag ceremony anymore. Ito iyong pinakamahihirap na mga bata, iyong libreng puwedeng tumira doon.

    We also met Troy Cating, a 14-year-old Grade 8 student from Brgy. Litolet. Sabi ni Troy, both of his parents are farmers, and he is the eighth of 11 siblings. Pero namatay iyong tatay niya in 2009, so you can just imagine, nanay na lang iyong natira. But he has a foster father who would accompany him to school. They would walk for two hours and cross one river along the way. One time, nakalimutan siyang sunduin; his foster father forgot to fetch him from school, so Troy had to walk home alone in the dark. He reached their house at 10 o‘clock that night. Ito, hindi ito patag na daanan; iyong nilalakaran nila mga bundok-bundok. Because he has to walk for many hours everyday, he would already be too tired to study and do his homework. Now that he lives in the dorm, he promised me he would get good grades and excel in school.

    Finally, we have Junrey Marinog. Itong si Junrey, medyo nakaawa siya: 22 years old na siya pero Grade 10 pa lang. He had to stop going to school several times; he had to work for three years, three years as a construction worker in Dipolog—iyong pinakamalapit na city doon iyong Dipolog—because Junrey’s parents are sick. His dad has capillariasis. His mom, on the other hand, is unable to work because she had an operation a few years back and could not endure strenuous physical activity. At a very young age, Junrey is now the sole breadwinner of his family. He is also a habal-habal driver—nag-aaral siya saka habal-habal driver—but he is determined to pursue his dreams by going to school. Nakatira din siya sa dorm ngayon, kaya hindi muna siya magha-habal-habal.

    Listening to the stories of Troy, Rain-Rain, and Junrey broke our hearts, but they represent just a fraction of the many struggles that poor students in Siayan—and perhaps in other parts of the country—face on a daily basis. Mayor Flora and the rest of her team had been working very hard to address these struggles, but the dropout rate is still very high. Ang daming nagda-dropout kasi sa layo, kaunti lang talaga iyong nagpe-persist. This is why we asked for a dormitory from our partner Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation—something that we hope will be a life-changing development for the young people we met there last Thursday.

    I am telling you these stories with the hope these will give you a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper appreciation of the valuable things we oftentimes take for granted—sabi ko sa anak ko, “Ang dami mong reklamo, hindi mo naman pinagdadaanan iyong pinagdadaanan nila“—education, family, our rights and our freedoms, and the freedom of this country that we should love with all our hearts.

    As we commemmorate the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, let me invite you to start conversations—at home, at school, and in social media—about our past and the best way to move forward. Then we move from learning to doing, in actual service to our fellowmen.

    Let me close with what Ninoy Aquino said before the Asia Society on August 4, 1980 in New York. I quote: “I have asked myself many times: Is the Filipino worth suffering, or even dying, for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy?

    “I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for because he is the nation’s greatest untapped resource.”

    As I look at your faces now, I know that you are, indeed, our nation’s greatest resource. So laban lang nang laban. Huwag magpapatalo; parati lang lumalaban, because the future of our country is yours to fight for. Kami na iyong aasa sa inyo. [applause]

    Thank you very much. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

    Posted in Speeches on Feb 17, 2018