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On the 24th anniversary of the uprising that swept his mother to power, Senator Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III on Thursday faced thousands of yellow-clad supporters and said he would not turn his back on the “destiny" that awaits him in the May elections. In a long-winded speech at the well-attended assembly in the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, the frontrunner in the presidential race recalled the sacrifices of his family during the long detention of his father, the martyred Benigno Aquino Sr. He also referred to the peaceful revolt that brought his mother Corazon Aquino to the presidency in 1986, and the outpouring of support during her funeral last year that eventually snowballed into mounting calls for him to run as president. “Sa mga nanlalait, hindi lang sa akin, kundi sa panawagan ng panahon, simple lang ang sagot dito: Ito ang ating tadhana (To those who are criticizing not just me but the call of the times, the answer is simple: this is our destiny)," he said. “Ang nais nila ay talikuran ko--at talikuran natin--ang ehemplo at prinsipyo ng aking mga magulang at ang magandang halimbawa na ibinigay hindi lang sa kanilang mga anak, kundi sa buong sambayanan (What they want is for my to turn my back--for us to turn our backs--on the examples and principles set by my parents and the good example they gave not just to their children but to the entire nation)," said Aquino. Father's advice Aquino, who was thrown into the political limelight after his mother’s death last August, said he is guided in his campaign by the words of his father, slain Senator Benigno “Ninoy" Aquino Jr. “Ang sabi sa akin ng aking ama (my father told me) the only advice I can give you is to live with honor and follow your conscience. There is no greater nation on Earth than our motherland, no greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength," he said. He added that his father also told him that the “ball is in your hands."
The Liberal Party standard-bearer said he was shaped by his father’s incarceration during the Martial Law era and promised his audience that Filipinos will soon hold their heads high again. “Nasubukan mo na ba makulong ng Pasko at Bagong Taon para makapiling ang inyong mahal sa buhay na wala namang sala? Nakaranas na ba kayo ng mag-iyakan ang inyong buong pamilya pagsapit ng Bagong Taon sa loob ng maliit na selda samantalang nagdidiwang at nagsasaya sa labas ang buong daigdig?" he said in an apparent swipe at his closest rival to the presidency, Nacionalista Party’s Manny Villar Jr. (Have you experienced spending Christmas and New Year in jail just so you can be with a loved one who was detained even though he was innocent? Have you experienced crying with your entire family inside a prison on New Year while the rest of the world are rejoicing outside?) After the speech, members of the LP led the nearly packed coliseum—which can accommodate 18,000—and the thousands more outside the venue in pledging: “Noynoy, ibinibigay namin sa iyo ang lakas ng People Power. Hindi ka mag-iisa sa labang ito." Celebrity power The event was attended by several celebrities who appeared in Aquino’s campaign advertisements. Singers Ogie Alcasid, Jim Paredes, Christian Bautista and local band Spongecola performed during the event and led the audience in chanting songs that expressed support to Aquino. Composer Ryan Cayabyab played EDSA 1 staples “Bayan Ko and “Impossible Dream" towards the end of the gathering. Yellow confetti rained inside the venue during the performance. Actor Dingdong Dantes, who spoke to the crowd before Aquino’s speech, said he refused an offer to endorse another candidate because he believed his “principle" cannot be paid. Also present during the event was Noynoy’s girlfriend, Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad. LP vice-presidential bet, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, and the party’s entire senatorial slate also showed their support for Aquino during the event. - KBK/GMANews.TV