IT’S former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.’s 90th birthday anniversary today.
His grandson Kiko Aquino Dee penned a message on the former senator on Sunday, remembering his role in the Korean War.
In a message sent to media offices, Dee said he never had the chance to get to know his grandfather personally, and he only learned about him through his teachers, historians, and even the internet.
“So when I learned this year that there were boxes upon boxes of Lolo Ninoy’s old things that needed sorting, I leapt at the opportunity to get to know him better,” said the grandson.
He said Aquino was a newspaper war correspondent before he joined politics.
Disputes along the border and uprisings in South Korea led to the invasion of North Korea into South Korea on June 25, 1950, which marked the beginning of the Korean War.
Dee shared that in 1977, Ninoy was invited to fly to South Korea to attend a memorial for Korean War correspondents while he was at a cell in Fort Bonifacio.
Read the message in full:
Good day, and thank you for joining us to celebrate Lolo Ninoy’s 90th birthday. I’m Kiko, one of his eight grandchildren.
I wish I could share with you some personal story about our Lolo, but sadly, none of us grandchildren ever got to know him personally. Instead, we learn about him from the stories of our parents, Tito Noy, Lola Cory, and also like most Filipinos, we also learn about him from our school teachers, public historians, and even Google. This is why days like Lolo Ninoy’s birthday and death anniversary can sometimes make me feel insecure: I’m his grandkid, but there’s still so much I don’t know about him.
So when I learned this year that there were boxes upon boxes of Lolo Ninoy’s old things that needed sorting, I leapt at the opportunity to get to know him better. Let me share just one of the things I found. Before his political career, Lolo covered the Korean War as a newspaper correspondent. As the story goes, the older reporters were hesitant to go because they had families to provide for. At seventeen, Lolo had no such worry. Ninoy the teenager probably never imagined though that about a quarter century later, in 1977, he would receive an invitation to fly to South Korea to attend a memorial for Korean War correspondents, and he would receive the letter at his official address: a cell in Fort Bonifacio.
That day, I wondered what the senders of that invitation had thought about one of their honorees being in prison. Then, with some help from Google, I realized that in 1977, South Korea was in the middle of its own struggle against dictatorship. In those days, the Philippines was not alone in its fight for democracy, nor is it alone today. From the grave, Lolo Ninoy still has many lessons to teach.
This past year, people have been asking our family what the plan is to fight the disinformation about Lolo Ninoy, Lola Cory, Tito Noy, and our country’s shared story of democracy. It’s an enormous question, but for me, the first step involves admitting my own ignorance about their stories, about our country’s story, and encountering it through the things that they’ve left behind. The materials that we in the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation are working through – to be honest, they’re covered in dust from the previous millennium, but when they’re presentable, we’re really, really excited to share them with you, so that we can all learn from them.
Today is Lolo Ninoy’s 90th birthday. Next year will be his 40th death anniversary. In days that follow, may we work to do justice to his memory.
Thank you and good day!
WATCH: Message of thanks from the Aquino family