‘Hindi ka nag-iisa’: Bam Aquino urges Filipinos to take to heart the phrase for Ninoy Aquino

August 21, 2023 - 12:15 PM
Ninoy Aquino and Bam Aquino
Former senator Ninoy Aquino in this photo header from his website; Former senator Bam Aquino in this photo from his Facebook page on June 1, 2023 (Photo from ninoyaquino.ph; Photo from BenignoBamAquino/Facebook)

The nephew of democracy icon and former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. called on the public to take to heart the phrase that the latter’s supporters uttered as a homecoming message before.

Former senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on Monday commemorated the special non-working holiday marking his uncle’s death anniversary by calling on Filipinos to recall Ninoy’s courage, patriotism, and heroism.

“Ating isapuso at alalahanin ang naging tugon ng sambayanan noon sa kanya, ‘Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa,'” Bam said on social media on August 21.

“Anomang hamon, bayan, #HindiKaNagiisa,” he added.

Bam also included the following hashtags: “#SalamatNinoy” and “#RememberingNinoy.”

His post has received 1,700 likes and love reactions, as well as several comments.

Story of the phrase

Aug. 21, 2023 marks the 40th year of the death of Ninoy, who was assassinated on the same day in 1983, three years before the historic People Power Revolution along EDSA.

Three years before his assassination, Ninoy underwent a self-exile in the United States where he first sought treatment for his heart condition.

He stayed overseas from May 1980 to August 1983, remaining a staunch critic of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. by delivering speeches throughout his travels across US states against the latter’s authoritarian regime.

By August 1983, Ninoy returned to the Philippines to convince Marcos Sr. to restore democracy through peaceful means.

Before that, Lito Banayo (who would later become a one-year postmaster general under former president Cory Aquino‘s administration), shared in a column that they had prepared a homecoming message for the exilee.

“I told my guests that we had coined a nice homecoming message for Ninoy — Hindi ka Nag-iisa,” Banayo wrote in Manila Standard in August 2022.

“It wasn’t really all that original. Erik Espina, the youngest son of Cebu’s Sen. Rene Espina, came to the office one day with a news clipping of We Forum, the precursor of today’s Malaya, wherein those words were printed in a cartoon describing a totally unrelated, apolitical subject,” he added.

“Then and there, I thought the words would be most apt for Ninoy Aquino’s forthcoming return,” Banayo further wrote.

He shared that he also had shirts and placards with the words “Ninoy, Hindi ka Nag-iisa” printed in anticipation of the opposition senator’s homecoming.

“Ninoy may have been largely forgotten. People may have thought that his exile, initially for health reasons, would mean he would stay in the United States with his family for good. And so ‘Hindi ka Nag-iisa’ was a message intended to assure him that his kababayans had not forgotten him, that they were with him,” Banayo said.

He said that the phrase was later immortalized after Ninoy’s death, which sparked outrage from other critics of the Marcos Sr. administration.

“After Cory and Ninoy’s family returned from Boston, the people awakened, and Ninoy’s funeral from Santo Domingo in Quezon Avenue all the way to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque became the longest and biggest procession in history, where a million lined up the streets or walked all the way to his final resting place. Ninoy — Hindi ka Nag-iisa was immortalized. The rest is now history,” Banayo wrote.

The historic EDSA Revolution would occur three years after Ninoy’s assassination as Filipinos from different walks of life marched to oust a strongman responsible for imposing a 20-year oppressive Martial Law.