What is Ninoy Aquino Day in the Philippines All About?
The late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. is not a regular Filipino hero. He fought and died standing firm on his conviction for truth, justice, and freedom from the tyrant ruler, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
He fought tooth and nail—without firing a single bullet.
On the contrary, a single bullet from a gunman killed him while getting off an aeroplane from Boston, the USA. This happens on the fateful day of August 21, 1983.
Since then, people gather on the same date commemorating the day Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.
However, it was only on February 25, 2004, that Republic Act No. 9256 was signed. Thus, officially declaring August 21 a special non-working holiday to remember the death anniversary of the late former Senator.
Ninoy, a bitter political nemesis of the Marcos dictatorship. It was among those who languished in jail after the abolition of Congress and declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972. It took him seven long years behind bars before the dictator allowed him to seek medical treatment in the US due to poor heart condition. He stayed in exile in the US for three years. Then, flew back to Manila on August 21, 1983, despite warnings and advice for him not to go home yet.
Aquino wasn’t even able to set foot as he was shot fatally even before he could get off the plane at the Manila International Airport.
Aquino’s assassination eventually led to the Presidency of his wife Corazon Aquino. The wife has died in 2015 for colon cancer—by virtue of the People’s Power Revolution three years later.
Things You Can Do During Ninoy Aquino Day in the Philippines
Year in and year out, the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) and the August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM) prepare a long list of activities where the public may take part.
Academic communities hold shows, competitions, and quiz bees related to the life of Ninoy Aquino. While the Catholic Church holds mass to commemorate the late senator’s death anniversary.
Special public programs are also held in facilities named after Ninoy Aquino and in parks where his monuments stand.
Among those named after Ninoy Aquino is the premiere Philippine airport and a big wildlife park in Quezon City. This is where Filipinos spend time with friends and family.
In some instances, Filipinos donate to a charitable institution supportive of Ninoy Aquino’s causes.
How Ninoy Aquino Day in the Philippines is Celebrated
Ninoy Aquino Day commemorates the assassination of the former senator. Ninoy and his wife are seen as two heroes of democracy in the Philippines.
The public holiday was first celebrated in 2004 after the Republic Act 9256. The holiday was included as part of President Arroyo’s program of “holiday economics.” The program has adjusted the date of public holidays so that they would be taken on the nearest Monday. This is intended o boost the tourism industry with long weekends. It was moved back to its original date by President Benigno Aquino III (Aquino’s son) in 2010.
However, the holiday was classified as a special non-working holiday, which means no double pay for working nationals.
For the last 16 years, Filipinos commemorate Aquino’s heroics in many ways. The family of the late senator, political allies, religious leaders from the Catholic Church, academic scholars, and activists convene and hold activities culminating in Aquino’s heroism.
Days before the holiday, organizers of these activities make announcements inviting the public.
Events commemorating Ninoy Aquino Day are simultaneously held in many parts of the country.
On this day, several events are hosted by the EPPC. That embarks on a framework focusing on Aquino and for the democracy he symbolizes.
Public engagement is strongly enjoined in parades, programs, mass, vigil and prayers that are capped with Filipino songs reminiscent of the People Power Revolution.
Venues and Specials Events for Celebrating the Ninoy Aquino Day in the Philippines
The late Senator’s legacy lives on and remains a hit in many places where people celebrate or commemorate Ninoy Aquino Day in the Philippines.
EDSA People Power Monument
Along the most congested national highway in the Philippines is a place aptly referred to as the EDSA People Power Monument. This is where Aquino’s political allies converge for a brief program. This is where prominent political figures deliver speeches in honour of Ninoy Aquino.
Ninoy Aquino Shrine
At the heart of Makati City is a monument of the late Senator where hundreds gather to reenact the day the confetti rained over country’s premier business district as indignation over Ninoy Aquino’s assassination.
Chino Roces Bridge and Liwasang Bonifacio
These are two government-designated freedom zones in Manila where protest rallies could be held by activists belonging to militant groups.
Our Lady of EDSA Shrine, Manila Cathedral
The family of the late Senator is known to be devout Catholics and for that reason, they have established closeness with prominent religious leaders, including the Manila Archbishops who institutionalized a mass every 21st of August.
Interestingly, Ninoy Aquino Day is unlike other holidays for national heroes, the Bonifacio Day, Rizal Day, Araw ng Kagitingan, and National Heroes Day which are classified as regular holidays (double pay for working nationals). August 21 is only a “special non-working holiday” (premium of a thirty-per cent for working nationals).