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The Aquinos of Tarlac in the Philippines


Renato Perdon
Sydney, Australia
May 17, 2010



Presidential candidate Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III came from an illustrious family of Tarlac. His great grandfather was revolutionary leader Gen. Servillano Aquino and his grandfather, Benigno Q. Aquino, was a distinguished legislator and member of the Quezon Cabinet. His father was senator and opposition leader, the late Benigno S. Aquino and his mother, the late President Corazon C. Aquino.
 
Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino was born in Manila in 1960 to Corazon and Benigno Aquino, Jr. His father, a senator was the strong opponent of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
 
General Servillano Aquino

The great, grandfather of ‘Noynoy’ Aquino was a revolutionary leader. He was born in Angeles, Pampanga in 1874 to Braulio Aquino and Petrona Aguilar de Hipolito. He was still young when the Aquino family moved to Tarlac where he grew up and learned the cartilla. At the age of three years, he was one of the boarding students in the school run by Felix Dizon of Mexico Pampanga. He transferred to  a school conducted by Enrique Mendiola in Sta. Cruz, Manila, during the time that his father became gobernadorsillo of Concepcion, Tarlac in 1885. He later transferred to Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he completed his bachelor of arts degree and land surveying. He continued his study of law at the University of Sto. Tomas but dropped out of school when he married Guadalupe Quiambao. The couple had three children, namely, Gonzalo, Benigno, and Armando. He was only 24 years of age. He actively participated in the activities of the Katipunan. Gen. Aquino was captured by the Spaniards and he was jailed at Fort Santiago. He was found guilty of sedition by a military court and sentenced to death before a firing squad. He however escaped death when the Pact of Biac-na-Bato was signed ending the first part of the Philippine revolution. He joined  Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in exile in Hong Kong.
 
General Servillano Aquino: Photo from Nick Joaquin's book: The Aquinos of Tarlac: an Essay on History as three generations published by Cacho Hermanos.
When the second phase of the Philippine revolution took place, he joined and was promoted to full colonel under Gen. Makabulos in Central Luzon. He became the military governor of Tarlac. Even at that early, the Aquinos were already involved in land disputes. It was during his term as military governor that the Guardia de Honor, a radical peasant movement, became the terror of landowners in the province. His father-in-law who was the town president of Murcia, Tarlac, and his wife were killed by the peasants. His sons  escaped death when their grandmother managed to hide them while the killing was taking place.
 
During the Filipino-American War, he became the leader of Pampango troops that attacked Caloocan and pushed their way to San Lazaro and Sampaloc. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and appointed deputy to the Malolos Congress.
 
When the war ended he was court-martialled by the Americans after he surrendered ‘unconditionally’ to Brigadier General Frederick Dent Grant and later convicted and sentenced for life. After three years, he received his pardon from President Theodore Roosevelt upon recommendation of US Secretary of War William Howard Taft.
 
He returned to Tarlac and rejoined his three children who were living with their grandmother and Petronila, the sister of his late wife. When Petronila’s husband died, he married his sister-in-law and had a daughter, Fortunata. When his second wife died in 1923, he divided the Murcia hacienda among the heirs. He was only 49 years old and devoted much of his time to his new farms and developing into rice or sugar land his estates that included Hacienda Tianang, Hacienda Lauang, Hacienda Pandakaki, and Hacienda Paligue.
 
At the ripe age of 72 years old, he married Belen Sanchez of Concepcion. His third wife had a miscarriage and by the age of 75 years, he became the father of Herminio. General Servillano Aquino passed away at the age of 85 leaving children from three wives.
 
 Benigno Q. Aquino

He was a wartime leader, a distinguished legislator and member of the Quezon cabinet. He was born in 1894 in Murcia but grew up in Concepcion, Tarlac. He had cartilla lessons under a private tutor and later studied at the school managed by Bartolome Tablante in Angeles, Pampanga. He boarded at the school of Modesto Joaquin in Bacolor. He transferred to Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1904 where he excelled in oratory receiving medals and the star pupil in the philosophy class. He graduated at the age of 13 with a bachelor of arts degree. Then he studied law at the University of Santo Tomas and completed a bachelor of  laws degree in 1913 and passed the bar the following year. In May 1916, he married Maria Urquico, a scion of a rich rice merchant family in Tarlac and one of the country’s first certified public accountant in 1915. She and Benigno lived in a house near the Tarlac market where their first child, Antonio, was born.
 
Benigno Q. Aquino: Photo from Nick Joaquin's book: The Aquinos of Tarlac: an Essay on History as three generations published by Cacho Hermanos.
The family lived at the 1,200-hectare Hacienda Tinang which was inherited by Benigno from his father in 1923. They lived in a large brick house known as Casa Grande or Bale Maragul, the biggest in town fronting Calle Real. With the help of his brother-in-law, he cleared the hacienda, planted sugar cane, and put its old sugar mill back into  operation but continued his law practice by commuting between the farm and the town...’
 
Aquino served as representative of the second district of Tarlac from 1919 to 1928, then senator from 1928 to 1934, and assemblyman from 1935 to 1938. He became the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce in 1938. In 19141, he resigned from the cabinet.
 
During the Japanese period, he served in the puppet government of Pres. Jose P. Laurel. When the Japanese surrendered, he was imprisoned at the notorious Sugamo prison in Tokyo. It was at the concentration camp that Aquino developed a heart condition.
 
He was arraigned before the People’s Court, he entered a plea of innocence to the charge of treason and asked for bail. In Sept. 1946, he was released provisionally and stayed most of the time in Tarlac where he nursed himself back to health.
 
His political comeback took place in 1947 when he became a close ally of Pres. Manuel Roxas. In December of that year, he suffered another heart attack and died of cardiac arrest. Four days after his death, the case of treason against him was dismissed. He was buried in Concepcion, Tarlac.
 
The House that Ninoy Aquino Built

Benigno Simeon ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, Jr. senator, governor of Tarlac, and opposition leader against the late dictator President E. Marcos was born on November 27, 1932 to Benigno Q. Aquino, Sr. and Maria Urquico, both scions of prosperous families of hacenderos in Concepcion, Tarlac.
 
Benigno Simeon (Ninoy) Aquino, Jr (source-National Historical Commission of the Philippines)
Aquino was educated at St. Joseph’s College, Ateneo de Manila University, National University, and De La Salle College. He completed high school at the San Beda College and pursued his tertiary education at the Ateneo de Manila University for his Bachelor of Arts degree, but this was interrupted when at the age of 17, he became war correspondent to cover the Korean War for The Manila Times. As a journalist, he received the Philippine Legion of Honour award from then President Elpidio Quirino at the age of 18 years. At the age of 21 years old, he became a close adviser to then defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay. He studied law at the University of the Philippines, where he became a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi.
 
He was the mayor of Tarlac at the age of 22 in 1955, the same year he married Corazon Cojuangco. The couple had five children: Maria Elene (Ballsy), Aurora Corazon (Pinky), Benigno Simeon III (Nonoy), Victoria Eliza (Viel), and actress and TV host Kristina Bernadette, popularly known as Kris Aquino.
 
He became vice-governor of Tarlac at the age of 27 years old and eventually, he became governor of Tarlac and served in 1961. In 1967, he became the youngest elected senator in the country’s history at age 34. His opposition to the ruling dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos had been written about, particularly when Martia Law was declared by Marcos and put him inside the jail. He was the foremost critic of First Lady Imelda Marcos’ extravagance highlighted by the controversies brought about by the construction of the Cultural Centre of the Philipines which he regarded as the ‘Pantheon for Imelda.’ Also, he dubbed the project as a ‘monument to shame’. His political success at the very young age resulted to the media calling him the ‘Wonder Boy of Philippine politics. Many predicted that he would become the president of the Philippines.
 
In 1972, when Marcos declared Martial Law in the country, he was one of the first to be arrested and imprisoned on trumped-up charges of murder, illegal possession of firearms and subversion. He was tried before a military commission. In 1977, after a lengthy trial, the Commission found Aquino guilty of all charges and sentenced him to death by firing squad. In 1978, he was allowed to take part in the elections for Interim Batasang Pambansa (Parliament). He helped organise a group of 21 candidates in Metro Manila during the election. But all his candidates lost due to widespread election fraud.
 
In 1989, he had a heart attack, mainly due to the difficult seven years in prison, mostly in a solitary cell. He was brought to the Philippine Heart Centre where he suffered a second heart attack. Although suffering from blocked artery, no surgeons would be willing to do a coronary bypass because it might result to controversy. Also, Aquino refused to submit himself to Philippine doctors fearing that Marcos might do something. He told the government that he preferred to go to the United States for the procedure or else return him to his cell at Fort Bonifacio and die. In 1980, the government allowed him to leave for the United States on two conditions that he would return to the Philippines and while in the U.S. would not speak out against the Marcos regime.
 
The entire family went with him to the U.S. He was admitted and undergone operation at a Dallas Hospital and made a quick recovery. The Aquino family was on self-exile in the U.S. for three years. He was granted fellowship grants from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked on two books and delivered lectures critical of the Marcos regime in school halls, classrooms and auditoriums throughout the U.S. But Aquino regarded his stay overseas as temporary. In 1983, he received news that Marcos was sick. With much consideration, he decided to return to the Philippines, fully aware of the dangers that awaited him. Many warned that he would either be imprisoned or killed. Knowing the plan of Aquino to return, the Philippine Consulates in the U.S. was instructed not to issue any passport to the members of the Aquino family. Also, international airlines were warned that landing rights will not be granted if they allow Aquino to board their plane to the Philippines. But Aquino has already made his decision to fly back to his country and told his closest friends that no government could prevent him from going back to the Philippines.
 
In August 1983, he took a flight that took him from Boston to the Philippines, via Los Angeles to Singapore. He went to Malaysia and conferred with Sultan Iskandar, a close friend of him. He then proceeded with his flight for Hong Kong, then on to Taipei as his final stopover. He was accompanied by a couple of Taiwanese friends on board China Airlines flying to Manila. It was at the stage of his life  that his famous words; ‘The Filipino is worth dying for’ surfaced in answer to the warning of Marcos that he should stay out of politics. Aquino returned to the country to die. Controversy over his death, parti-cularly on the identity of the master-mind, continue to be the staple of political conversation in many quarters.
 
Sen. Benigno Simeon 'Noynoy' Aquino III

He graduated with an Economics degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and became a three-term member of the House or Representa-tives between 1998 and 2007 representing the second district of Tarlac. In 2007, he was elected to the Senate for a six-year term. He belongs to the Liberal party of the Philippines.
Sen Benigno S (Noynoy) Aquino III
 
In accepting the challenge to head the government, he said: ‘I had no ambitions to run in the 2010 elections but I responded to the people’s clamour. I am but the face of what we believe is the overwhelming demand of our people to repudiate everything wrong in this administration.’
 
The Time Magazine which featured Noynoy Aquino in its issue  said of his political life as ‘with an air of almost Gandhian simplicity and uprightness.’ But he cuts an ‘awkward figure: Shirtloose, pants baggy, and hair thinning, he looked more an abashed computer nerd...’
 
Time added: ‘Aquino is more humble about his role, fitting for a person who has lived quietly for much of his life in the shadow of his parents’ legend.’
 
He is single, but has dated several television personalities and is currently seeing a local politician 20 years his junior. He loves music and movies and  for sports, shooting and billiards. He has four sisters, including popular TV host and actress Kris Aquino.
 
In his official biography released by the Senate of the Philippines it says in part:
 
‘In his nine years at the Lower House, Noynoy focused on the fiscalizing role of a legislator. He felt that there were already too many laws, and good ones at that, but they seemingly lacked proper imple-mentation. He concentrated on crafting laws that would help create opportunity rather than impose additional burdens to those who are already disadvantaged. He actively took part in budget deliberations to ensure that government initiatives do address the plight of the people who need help the most.
 
 
Author, Renato Perdon
 
‘His commitment to continue the legacy of his parents was evident in his performance. In November 2004, he became Deputy House Speaker of Luzon, but he relinquished the post when he joined leaders of the Liberal Party (LP) in calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal.
 
‘In May 2007, he ran for Senator and won, placing 6th in the national elections. He chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government, and is also the vice-chairperson of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights. He had been determined to ensure that his key legislative initiatives would bear fruit and to see them through until the end of his term.
 
‘However, fate had other plans for him. The passing of his mother, former President Cory Aquino, stirred a long-dormant yearning for good leadership. Filipinos from all walks of life, here and abroad, began to look at Noynoy as the new hope for a better Philippines. The groundswell calling for him to run for President became too loud to ignore, and eventually overcame his reluctance.’

    Write a Comment
    Leo Jesus Quiambao
    Thu 25th November 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    When I read this articlesgenerations of Aquino how they related to Quiambao my great great grand fathers , I found that all is true , my father Amando C. Quiambao Sr, had told me this story when he was alive, hes body resting in Capaz , Tarlac,and most of my first cousins lives in Murcia,and concepcion Tarlac, also my ancestors bigins in Macabebe, Pampanga in early days.
     
    Kay
    Wed 23rd June 2010
    I would just like to point out a slight error in the above article. It was stated that Ninoy Aquino was born on November 27, 1932 to Benigno Q. Aquino, Sr. and Maria Urquico. Don Benigno's first wife, Maria Urquico, passed away in 1928. The widow Don Benigno remarried. Ninoy is the son of Dona Aurora.
     
    Rosalina O. Fuentes
    Mon 24th May 2010
    Quezon City
    This man, Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino is the symbol of humility and inner strength. He is evry inch a genuine FILIPINO. Let us rally behind him even as he is not everything we want him to be. His intentions are sincere. Pakiusap lang po: let us move on...delegate to working committees what need to be tied together of the past. We need to be compelled by out life-generating forces NOT by the nega-shadow of the past. Rise and Shine, Pres. Noynoy.
     
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