Noynoy Aquino announces bid for presidency in 2010
After trailing in the shadow of his famous parents, Senator Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III is starting to make a name for himself as he finally throws his hat in the presidential ring, with Wednesday’s announcement of his candidacy for the post.
The only son of the country’s democracy icons, Noynoy was born on Feb. 8, 1960 to former Senator Benigno “Ninoy" Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. He attended the Ateneo de Manila University from elementary to college, and earned a degree in economics in 1981.
Noynoy joined his family in US exile until 1983, when they returned to the country after Ninoy Aquino was assassinated upon arrival in Manila. For the next two years, Noynoy worked with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, a corporate-led non-profit organization for social development. From 1985 to 1986, he joined the Nike shoe company as Assistant Retail Sales Supervisor for the Philippines.
"Tinatanggap ko ang hiling ng sambayanan. Tinatanggap ko rin po ang bilin at habilin, tagubilin ng aking mga magulang. Tinatanggap ko ang responsibilidad na ituloy ang laban para sa bayan. Tinatanggap ko ang hamong mamuno sa labang ito. Bayang Pilipinas, tatakbo ako sa pagka-pangulo sa darating na halalan," said Noynoy, who made the announcement on the 40th day after the death of his mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino.
(I accept the call of the people and the advice of my parents, and the responsibility to continue the fight for our nation. I accept the challenge to lead this fight. I will run for president in the coming elections.)
Mrs. Aquino died on August 1 after battling colon cancer for more than a year. Since her death, various sectors have called on Noynoy to seek the country's highest post next year, when the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expires. Arroyo, whom Mrs. Aquino had asked to resign in the wake of a cheating election scandal in 2005, is legally barred from reelection in the same post.
Noynoy, 49, is the only son of Mrs. Aquino and opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. Millions of people lined the streets of Manila during the funerals of both his parents, drawing historic parallels to Noynoy's current quest for the presidency. Ninoy Aquino's assassination in 1983 had sparked popular protests that swept his widow to power.
Aquino made the announcement at the historic Club Filipino in Greenhills in San Juan City, where his mother took her oath as president on Feb. 25, 1986 during the final day of the EDSA People Power Revolution that ended the 20-year rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
He said he arrived at the decision after his spiritual retreat over the weekend at the Carmelite Monastery in Zamboanga City, and after consulting various sectors.
“I want to make democracy work not just for the rich and well connected but for everybody," said Aquino, who will become the standard bearer of the Liberal Party (LP).
Noynoy said he had offered the vice presidential slot to Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, who had announced that he was making a "supreme sacrifice" last week by stepping aside as LP standard bearer to give way to Noynoy.
Aquino said he wants to be a president "that will be missed when I step down."
Among those present during Noynoy's announcement were his LP party mates, Senators Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan and Rodolfo Biazon. Former congressman Nereus Acosta, pop singer Jim Paredes, Lea Navarro of the Black and White Movement, and former Senate President Frankin Drilon also attended the event.
Noynoy's girlfriend, Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, was also in the audience but she refused to give a message, saying she preferred to tell Noynoy what was on her mind "personally."
Aquino sisters give in to public clamor
Also present in the event were Noynoy's uncle, former Makati Rep. Agapito "Butz" Aquino, and sisters Ma. Elena “Ballsy" Cruz, Pinky Abellada, Viel Dee, and Kris who arrived with her basketball star husband James Yap and their son Baby James.
Ballsy, the eldest sister of Noynoy, said their family was initially reluctant to give their nod to their brother’s presidential bid in 2010 but finally gave in because of growing public clamor.
“Gaya ni Noynoy, naramdaman din namin na talagang marami ang may gusto na ipagpatuloy ang inumpisahan ng aming mga magulang," Ballsy said at a press conference after Noynoy's announcement.
(Like Noynoy, we felt that a lot of people want to continue what our parents started.)
Asked why they allowed Noynoy to make the announcement on the day that marks the 40th day after their mother died, Ballsy said: “Sabi naming magkakapatid, Noy sige na. Napag-isipan mo na, nagdasal ka na at lahat tayo nagdasal. At ang ating mga kaibigan na talagang mahal ang bayan ay sinabing huwag na nating patagalin."
(We told him, Noy, go on and make the announcement. You’ve thought and prayed about it and we all prayed about it. Our friends who love the country said you should not delay the announcement anymore.)
Ballsy’s son, Jiggy Aquino-Cruz, also wrote in his Facebook status message: “I guess it’s the calling. I guess my family is meant to serve. So here we are again. Walang iwanan (We won’t leave each other)."
Earlier, Aquino said his sisters were worried about talks of his presidential plans. [See: Noynoy’s sisters not thrilled about his presidential prospects]
During the press conference, Aquino answered questions about his stand on several issues, which he said he would pursue if he wins the presidency.
Asked about his peace agenda for Mindanao in the southern Philippines, the senator said he would push for more dialogues between parties.
“There is a need for more dialogue, the setting up of a baseline where we can communicate with each other. If the current intermediaries are not enough, we will find better intermediaries," he said.
Noynoy added that peace talks should continue because “when we stop talking, it becomes war, war war."
He likewise criticized what he said was the “tradition" of having a poor educational system in the country.
“Ang Pilipino ba just-tiis, walang justice? I do not understand why we have to settle for substandard materials with which to educate our youth, year in, year out. That should not be a tradition. That should be a tragedy that should never be repeated again. And I stand to correct that, if given the chance," he said.
During the announcement, a certain Gloria Alcuaz of the group Kubol ng Pag-asa passed around a can marked "Piso para kay Noynoy (A peso for Noynoy)" to solicit contributions for the senator's campaign.
Acosta, a top LP official and former representative of Bukidnon, said fund-raising drives for Noynoy's presidential campaign were going on in other parts of the country. - with reports from Sophia Dedace, GMANews.TV