Saturday, April 3, 2010

*187. His High School Yearbook: BENIGNO A. AQUINO JR.

A TIME WE'LL TREASURE THROUGH THE YEARS. Benigno A. Aquino Jr. of Concepcion, Tarlac, graduates from San Beda College l at age 15, going on 16. This high school photo of "Benny", as he was fondly called, is reproduced from his 1948 Ecos High School Yearbook. Dated 1947-48.

A lot can be gleaned about the early years of Benigno Aquino Jr. (b. 27 Nov. 1932/ d. 21 Aug. 1983) just by leafing through his 1948 San Beda yearbook. Ninoy was but 3 years old when the family left Concepcion to settle in Ermita, Manila due to the demands of his father’s work, Benigno Sr., with the National Assembly. Later, in 1936, the family acquired their New Manila property where they once again moved.

At age 6, Ninoy was first enrolled at Saint Joseph’s School, staying there with his all-girl classmates until second grade. He transferred to Ateneo on his third grade, then located at the Intramuros, while his sisters were chauffer-driven to Holy Ghost College. Ninoy had no yaya, growing up, so he was pretty much an independent spirit, always roaming around the neighborhood, befriending shanty boys and scouring the place for news—he was even nicknamed T-V-T (for Tribune, Vanguardia and Taliba, leading dailies of the time) for reporting every community happening to the family.

During the Japanese Occupation and with the closure of the American-run Ateneo, Ninoy enrolled at La Salle. He is remembered for associating with the older boys of the school, that included Claro Recto Jr., basketball star Tito Eduque and future vice president Salvador Laurel. The Liberation of the Philippines put a temporary halt to his studies with the evacuation of the family to Concepcion, Tarlac. Once school reopened in 1946, Ninoy was sent back to Manila to resume his studies at San Beda College run by Benedictine fathers.

Ninoy had often mused about this period of his life where he “grew old too soon”. His father had been tagged as a collaborator and the family had become a virtual outcast, a rather disturbing and confusing experience for a 12 year old. Ninoy reacted by becoming a loner, immersing himself in his studies, finishing high school in just two and a half years by cross-enrolling during summer at Far Eastern University and National University. The 15-going on-16 teenager from graduated from San Beda on March 1948,

In his own assessment, he was “in the middle bracket, never brilliant, never among the 95s, but never in the 75s either.” His Kapampangan batchmates include: Jose Ayson (Angeles), Apolinar Bundalian (San Fernando), Ponciano Catacutan (Apalit), Ildefonso Dizon (Magalang), Jose Fausto Jr. (Sta. Ana) . Edward Golden (Arayat), Jose Hizon (Mexico, father of Singapore-based BBC reporter, Rico M. Hizon), Alfonso Lagman (Minalin), Benito Mercado (San Fernando), Mariano Santos, Regulo Vicente (Tarlac) and a townmate from Concepcion, Federico Pineda Jr.

Ninoy’s yearbook write-up has this to say about him:
“Political? Ask Benny . He’ll say ‘no’. How, when, and how much. Don’t overlook his intentions, for, mind you, he had a priestly inclination, until he found out that ecclesiastics and politics are two different things. He has dreams of being a missionary in the jungles of Africa, converting the natives”. Gifted with the art of rhetoric (I hope), he’ll make a good preacher, a plaza demagogue, or the opposition stormy petrel. He is such a success when it comes to ‘sales talk’, that he almost sold ‘San Sebastian’ to a by-stander interested in the lot..”

The yearbook description proved to be very prophetic, for this young Tarlaqueno soon entered the political arena, was elected governor and rose to become the youngest mayor at 22, Tarlac governor at 29 and the youngest Senator-elect at 34. In the Marcos years, just less than two decades after his graduation, Ninoy would become the harshest critic and leading threat of then president Ferdinand E. Marcos—the “opposition stormy petrel” indeed, for which he would pay a dearly. Imprisoned during Martial Law then exiled to the U.S., Ninoy was assassinated upon his return to challenge the dictator. His martyrdom spurred his widow, Corazon Aquino, and a whole nation to challenge the dictator, who was ousted in the historic 1986 People Power Revolution.


Anonymous said...

Ninoy is the modern day Jose Rizal. Set the standards fighting oppression, injustice and corrupt practices. His unparalleled views and conviction for reforms paved way opening our people's minds, benefiting our generation

Ninoy makes us Bedans even more prouder.

Red Titan said...

My father, Vicente Adamos Feria and the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino belonged to the same San Beda high school batch'48. He told me that even during their high school days, Ninoy was already good in public speaking. Their classmates already had a feeling that Ninoy was going to be a great politician. In one of their Alumni Homecoming in San Beda held in the Mendiola campus in early '72, Ninoy got the microphone and directed the loudspeaker towards Malacanang so that Marcos could hear his speech to the applause of all who witnessed this. The Bedan community knew at that time that Ninoy was going to be the next president of our country. We all know that Marcos declared Martial Law on that same year and had all the opposition arrested. The rest is history.

Congratulations on your work, Alex..and thank you for sending me pics of my dad and his close friends in their SBC ECOS Yearbook.
I hope to meet you someday. God bless.

Kennedy John Viloria Feria SBCHS'77 SBC-CAS'81