Aquino: There's no place like home

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a much-awaited homecoming not just for former president Benigno Aquino III but also for his neighbors in Times Street in Quezon City.

After the departure honors in Malacañang, Aquino went straight to the family home where he grew up and was met and greeted by hundreds of supporters. The Aquino family has lived in the area since 1961.

His return to the family home unleashed memories, Aquino said. He recalled that when his father, former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr, was assassinated in 1983, the people in their neighborhood stood up for his family by posting yellow ribbons despite the oppressive Marcos dictatorship.

Yellow ribbons were tied by the opposition leader's supporters back then to welcome him back upon his return to Manila on August 21, 1983, after living for 3 years in political exile with his family in the United States. He was gunned down as soon as he stepped out of the plane.

Aquino remembered the outpouring of support for the family by total strangers who came in droves from all over the country to their home, and braved kilometric queues for hours, just to pay their respect to their fallen father.

"Tandang-tanda ko po: wala namang nag-organize, nagbigay ng tubig o pati pagkain. 'Yung pila ho, sa mga kasing-tanda ko, naalala 'nyo gaano kahaba 'yung pila noong panahong iyon. Nagbuklod-buklod ang isang lahi, nagsasabing mali ang nangyari na dapat talaga iwasto ito. So kumbaga dry run ng EDSA [People Power Revolution] 'yon," Aquino told neighbors and supporters.

(I remember it vividly: no one organized it, people gave water and even food. The queue was – to those who are as old as me – you remember how long the line was that time. A people united, said something was wrong and should be corrected. It was like a dry run of EDSA [People Power Revolution].)

He said he had known no home other than the one in Times Street.

“Again, I really don’t think it would have made any sense for me to move anywhere else because this is where the roots are, this is where the friends are, the extended family, in a sense, really is,” Aquino said.

He also took the time to thank them for welcoming him despite his earlier apprehensions.

“Thank you for the welcome that you’ve given me today. I was actually discouraging all of this. Ayaw ko na magmolestiya (I don't want to be a bother to anyone),” Aquino said.

If his parents were there, Aquino said they would be happy with the neighborhood’s continued support for the family.

“I think my father and mother are all looking at you, I guess they’re patting their backs, to say, 'When we decided to move to Times Street in 1961, that’s one of the best decisions we ever made,'” he added. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.