BOSTON (Mabuhay) – Calling it “fortune’s way of showing irony,” President Aquino spent the 42nd anniversary of Martial Law with old friends and supporters here who gave his family refuge from the dictatorship back home.
“It is perhaps fortune’s way of showing its sense of irony that I meet you 42 years to the date that appears on Mr. Ferdinand Marcos’ signed declaration of Martial Law,” the President said at a reception hosted by Boston College.
“Following that declaration, my father, who appeared on top of the order of battle, would be a political prisoner for 7 years and 7 months.”
The President was in Boston for the first time since leaving in 1983, in the aftermath of his father Senator Ninoy Aquino’s assassination.
Saying it was one of their family’s lowest points, Aquino admitted he had wanted to exact revenge on the Marcoses.
“As the only son, I felt an overwhelming urge to exact an eye for an eye. Mr. Marcos and his ilk were like rabid dogs who had lost all reason. There was no longer any potential for dialogue; the only solution when confronted by a rabid dog is to put it down,” he said.
During the reception, the President recalled the years he spent in Boston – describing himself as “the dog-handler, carpenter, plumber, and baggage-carrier.”
He also said he never got used to the bitter winters here, and had to sleep in his thermal underwear under a large pile of comforters.
“To those of you who remember me back then …you must be thinking how things have changed,” he said.
“Boston played a significant role in this. It gave us a sense of normalcy in what can only be described as abnormal times: Back home, every aspect of life was controlled by the dictator,” he added.
He said he purposely didn’t return to Boston since leaving in 1983, not even when his mother President Cory Aquino visited in September, 1986.
“I actually had several opportunities to come earlier, and I kept begging off, I said ‘let me make sure that my emotions are in check before I do make a homecoming,’” he said.
The President issued a stark reminder of conditions under Martial Law: curfew limiting the time outside; official permission required for travel abroad; no such thing as free speech, or freedom of assembly.
“Accountable to no one but themselves, the dictator, his wife, and their cronies turned the public treasury into their private purse. Checks and balances in government were replaced by the dictator being the sole judge, jury and executioner, giving his regime total impunity to abduct, torture, jail, and kill its critics,” he said.
For Aquino, the time spent in Boston will always be linked to the revolution that reclaimed Philippine democracy and national dignity.
Among the Boston-based Filipinos that the President thanked were Mario and Norma Bucal and their family, Dr. Steve and Cheri Agular, and the Buenaventura family.
Aquino also expressed appreciation to Boston College, a 150-year old institution founded by the Jesuits, just across the street from the Aquino family’s old house on 175 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill – a quiet and affluent neighborhood 15 kilometers west of downtown Boston.
PNoy’s sister, Viel Aquino-Dee, is an alumna of the school.