MANILA – In 1980, my father arrived in the United States to undergo a heart bypass, due to the rigors of his imprisonment by the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The dictatorship offered him a reprieve, but, true to its nature, one dependent on its whims. Having already been condemned by a kangaroo court to death by musketry, my father refused to hoist a white flag. “The Filipino,” he insisted, “is worth dying for.”
Three years later, my father went home, not to die, but to infuse new life into the demoralized ranks of the opposition to the dictatorship. His assassination upon his arrival at Manila airport became the ultimate proof of the sincerity of what he had proclaimed throughout his life.
In 1986, my countrymen peacefully defied Marcos’s tanks and demonstrated their faith in themselves. Marcos fled, and democracy was restored without bloodshed.
My mother, who then became President, also had an enduring message: the democracy that we had regained at such a high price could be ensured only by a vigorous commitment to making its institutions work.