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[Y-SPACE] Too Young to Die: A youth’s perspective of the late Noynoy Aquino

By Ryanne Jancell Relos

Photo edited by Cherry Gil Castillo

Everything seemed calm and normal as I woke up yesterday, the 24th of June 2021. Charging to open my phone, I am greeted with the sudden break of news on the television as a news reporter announces the death of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. The former president known as “PNoy” during his term represented the Filipinos imitating the native calling of Pinoy to which he championed himself as a servant to the masses by remarking in all of his speeches “Kayo ang Boss ko”.

Growing up, the name Aquino was always familiar to me wherever I went. Loving to read books and hearing stories from my family, the scenery and stories of the 1986 EDSA People Power always amazed me on how the people overthrew a dictator out of power and out of the country. The names of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Corazon Aquino would, however, always be the key figures in the history books that I have read, and the Aquino family would always be the challenging group against the Marcos regime. It would always be the Aquinos versus the Marcoses as I was taught in my history classes in elementary, the good versus evil of the Martial Law era.

Before entering high school, the name of Noynoy Aquino would always show up on the television screen following the death of his mother in the year 2009. By then, the 2010 national elections were nearing and everyone was ramping up their contenders for the high and honorable positions. Even as a kid, I still understood what was happening around at the time wherein people were sick of the long and already corrupt administration. Everyone at the time was looking for something new, something that could change the situation of the country that has fallen, and once Noynoy Aquino accepted the challenge to run for president, the people cheered and they endorsed him with an adoring wave.

Upon his victory in the 2010 national elections, everyone celebrated and expected that change finally arrived in the country. Another Aquino and the son of the late Ninoy and Cory Aquino has taken up the highest post in the land. Early in his presidency, he announced the 'No WangWang' policy which disallows the use of sirens by government officials. This signifies that such prominent officials cannot use their privileges of counter-flowing or cut in line in cases of traffic. Moreover, the policy could be seen as a way to illustrate that government officials and the common people are equal in terms of privilege; thus, no special treatment should be ever given to the official by signifying that he is at a higher status than the people.

However, things did not start great and fruitful, for months later, the 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis took place, and the failure to handle the worsened situation characterized his administration for incompetence. The dismay of the Hong Kong people and the embarrassment of the Filipino people during the time did stain his name in terms of mishandling crises through the years.

Despite the mishaps early in his presidency, huge reforms still happened following his passion for serving and the ability to listen to the circumstances and stories of the Filipinos. He tried to fight against the graft and corruption happening within the Philippine government to which the famous PDAF scam was tried and settled. He reformed the education sector of the country by which he transitioned us into a K-12 system. Even the controversial Reproductive Health Law was signed despite the opposition of the conservative side of our society. A lot had happened during his presidency, and many respected the decisions he made to which led us into having a Tiger Economy at the time and even taking into the International Court our trial against the Chinese incursion in our nearby islands.

Although remembering in my early college days, his administration by then had become a blot in the media and the people because of the tragedy of Super Typhoon Yolanda and the mismanagement that occurred following the calamity. In addition, the death of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police dragged down his administration. The hope that the people once vied unto him disappeared following disaster after disaster throughout his presidency. Even though he had achieved so much through his administration, the people still cannot forget the catastrophes and scandals that opened throughout his governance. This encouraged the people to follow and vote for a notorious option that would give them “change” that they all wish for to which they would unknowingly eye over strongman politics and populism.

In his last years, we all could see how Noynoy was treated by the populace and the trolls. His failures and disasters were restated all over the state and social media to which many have forgotten that the infrastructures being built today were started already during his administration. I would like to think that Noynoy was just like us who tried to live up to the expectations that the people have built around him. The legacies that his family must have pressured him to live up along his father’s and mother’s name, and just like us the youth, we always wanted to make our parents proud by living up to the character that they have built throughout their lives.

We could say that he was not an awful president, nor was he adequately the best like any other. People make mistakes and that is our part of being human, and being someone who is holding the highest position throughout the country would face a daunting task. However, this still does not validate the significant mistakes he made that have affected our lives, for holding such a post is a tremendous responsibility concerning a nation. Nevertheless, at an event like today, we must still give honor to the legacies and achievements he has built throughout his life. By which, such accomplishments could inspire our youth to do the same and work for our country in the future by holding the motto “Kayo Ang Boss Ko” for it is undeniable that serving the Filipino people is worth dying for.

Ryanne Jancell Relos is a student from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He is passionate about reading and writing anything about the Social Sciences to which he specializes mostly on the topics of History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology.

YSPACE is a platform open for young writers to contribute their worth-sharing thoughts and stories to the world. It is a space for young people and by the young people which aims to promote a strong sense of empowerment and inspiration to young Filipinos.

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