Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. (1932-1983) was a Filipino senator who became the most powerful political opposition leader against Ferdinand Marcos. He was arrested in 1973 on falsified charges of weapons possession and conspiracy against the government and spent seven years in prison. He and his wife Corazon Aquino were exiled to the United States in 1980 in order for Benigno to receive medical treatment following a heart attack. In 1983, Aquino returned to the Philippines in an effort to negotiate peace with Marcos and was assassinated on the tarmac upon arrival. An estimated two million Filipinos walked in his funeral procession and thousands visited his widow in what became a highly public act of protest.

The Catholic Church framed his assassination and the suffering of Corazon Aquino through the lens of the pasyon, the Passion of Christ narrative in which Benigno represented the fallen Christ, Corazon was Mary, with the Philippines awaiting salvation and resurrection. This metaphor powerfully motivated Filipino Catholics and contributed to the ultimate success of People Power in unseating Marcos.

Sources:

Steven Shirley, Guided By God: The Legacy of the Catholic Church in Philippine Politics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2004).

See also: Philippines