Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Last Journey of Ninoy (Jun Reyes, 2009)

A co-production of the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Foundation and Unitel Productions, this wonderful docu-drama takes a look at the last nine days of Senator Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino Jr. It chronicles his last day in Boston, Massachusetts until his fateful return to the Philippines on August 21, 1983. Interspersed with the running account of Ninoy's trip back home is an inspiring tale of the late senator's spiritual journey. How Ninoy overcame adversities and vicissitudes in his latter years is an inspiration and source of hope for downtrodden people.

Ninoy was a jolly, extrovert person who loved crowds. His political star shone early in Tarlac. In 1967, the 35-year old Ninoy ran for and won a seat in the Senate. A fearless and risk-taking politician, Ninoy took on the task of exposing the abuses and crimes of his Upsilon Sigma Phi brother, President Ferdinand Marcos. When Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, Ninoy and most of the opposition figures were sent to jail. Ninoy vowed to helped restore democracy.

A bittersweet recollection dealt with the visit of Cory Aquino and her children to Ninoy at a military camp in Laur, Nueva Ecija. The usually jovial Ninoy was now a sobbing, emaciated man holding on to his pants. He was full of emotions because of his unexpected meeting with family members. He had given up hope of ever seeing them again. Three of his daughters were also crying. He was ashamed because here he was crying his hearts out while Cory did not shed a tear at all. Little did Ninoy knew that Cory was given a tranquilizer shot that numbed her feelings.

A sprinkling of delicious humor spiced up the documentary. If you've ever marveled at the glib of tongue of Kris Aquino, then you'll be impressed more with the sense of humor and public speaking skills of her father, Ninoy. He truly loved giving speeches. He can easily crack funny jokes about his experiences in a military camp or at a hospital. Watch out for his tale of a visit by the 'beautiful one.' He can shift from English to Filipino in a flash.

The docu-drama utilized restored videos, photos, and interviews with the late Senator Ninoy and the late President Cory. Among the most memorable vignettes were those prophetic interview with Ninoy at the Grand Hotel in Taipei and the hunger strike incident. There were some recreated scenes depicting the last days of Ninoy. Several of the latter scenes though looked like commercials for a telephone company.

One of the most valuable lessons from the documentary is that things happen for a reason. The 7 years and 7 months-long incarceration of Ninoy brought him closer to God and his family. The hunger strike incident made him realized that the Filipinos are worth living for. The wonderful three years of family bonding in Boston, Massachusetts rejuvenated his love for his country and fellow Filipinos.

All these things and more prepared Ninoy to undertake the fateful journey back home. Watching Ninoy coolly describe what will happen to him in a few hours sends chills to the bones. His peaceful demeanor at the China Airlines jet is an amazing, unforgettable sight. 

He had really made peace with himself and his Creator. An assassin's bullet interrupted Ninoy's mission of restoring democracy. However, his death sparked three years of protests and rallies that culminated in the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986. Marcos and his family was exiled to Hawaii. Thus begin, the journey of Cory as President of the Philippines.

*original online posting in 2009

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