Today is an important holiday in Filipino history, marking August 21 as Ninoy Aquino Day. Created in 2004, this day forever commemorates the life and legacy of a beloved hero of freedom. Filipinos remember the ultimate sacrifice that Ninoy Aquino made for the people of the Philippines.
Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. was an influential and inspirational Filipino political figure who fought for independence and a free democracy. After serving prison time for his opposition to then President Ferdinand Marcos, Aquino, who had gone into exile upon his release; planned on reentering Filipino politics. Tragically, he was assassinated upon returning to the islands in 1983. Today, Filipinos remember Aquino’s famous words, “The Filipino is worth dying for.”
When is Ninoy Aquino Day 2023?
The work and vision of Filipino politician Benigno S. ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. is celebrated on Ninoy Aquino Day on August 21.
History of Ninoy Aquino Day
On August 2, the Filipino community celebrates the life of Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr., keeping his legacy alive. Before Aquino’s untimely death, he was regarded as the flag bearer for the progression of modern Phillippine democracy.
In 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in the Philippines, placing himself as an authoritarian. The reasoning for this law was to protect the country from civil disobedience and communism, but many believe that it was actually to secure Marcos’s dictatorship. Many public institutions were shut down and anyone who publicly challenged Marcos during this time was imprisoned by the military. Human rights violations were being committed by the military and the economy suffered severely.
Marcos met his match when Senator Aquino started vocally opposing him. To counter this, Aquino was imprisoned and was allowed to move to the U.S. for medical treatment in 1980 after he suffered a heart attack. He did not quit his efforts for the freedom of his people, however, and continued advocating for it in the U.S.
In August 1983, Aquino decided to return to his country to participate in the 1984 elections against Marcos. He was aware of the risk involved but proceeded anyway. Upon landing at Manila International Airport on August 21, Aquino was assassinated. Many believe this was executed under the orders of Marcos. The event led to an uproar from the citizens, leading to Marcos’s eventual downfall and the presidency of Maria Corazón Aquino — Aquino’s wife.
In 2004, Ninoy Aquino Day was declared as a commemoration of Aquino’s death by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The holiday also served as a means to boost tourism in the Philippines.
Ninoy Aquino Day timeline
Benigno S. ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. is born in Tarlac, Philippines.
Ferdinand Marcos becomes President of the Philippines.
Ninoy Aquino becomes a well-known critic of the current President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos.
Marcos declares martial law, suspending the Parliament and arresting opposition politicians, including Aquino.
Aquino suffers from two heart attacks and is sent to the United States to receive medical help.
Ninoy Aquino returns to the Philippines to participate in the upcoming elections but is shot and killed when getting off of a plane at the Manila International Airport.
Marcos declares himself as the winner of the presidential elections but is challenged by Aquino’s widow, Corazón, and mass protests from the people force him to flee to Hawaii.
A sudden presidential election is held, in which his widow, Corazón Aquino, is elected.
Traditions of the day
Ninoy Aquino Day is a special non-working holiday in the Philippines. Those who choose to work receive an extra 30% of their hourly wage for every hour worked.
The EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) hosts events and activities on the day to remember Aquino’s struggle for democracy. The Office of the President funds these activities or private donations are made.
Ninoy Aquino Day FAQs
Where was Ninoy Aquino shot?
Ninoy Aquino was assassinated at Manila International Airport in the Philippines. The airport was renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport after his death.
Is August 21 a holiday in the Philippines?
Ninoy Aquino Day on August 21 is a national non-working holiday in the Philippines.
When did Ninoy die?
Ninoy Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983.
How to Observe Ninoy Aquino Day
Attend an event
Throughout the day, there are several events hosted by the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC) that focus on Aquino’s fight for democracy. Some of these include parades, speeches and other celebratory activities.
Remember a hero
Even though you and your friends may have to work on this holiday, this doesn’t mean you still can’t mark the occasion. Spend time with friends and family. Engage in activities that further honor the legacy of the man whose death led to Marcos' downfall.
Raise money for a good cause
Since Ninoy Aquino felt so passionately about freedom, this holiday is the perfect opportunity to make a difference in another’s life. Whether you choose to volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate to a charity or help out at an animal shelter, use this day to follow in the footsteps of Ninoy Aquino by helping others just as he did for the people of the Philippines.
5 Interesting Facts About Ninoy Aquino
He was born prosperous
Aquino grew up wealthy in Tarlac, Philippines.
He was politically active even as a teenager
At age 17, he was the youngest war correspondent to cover the Korean War for the "Manila Times."
After being exiled in 1979, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not allow Aquino to be issued a passport so he had one made under the alias, "Marcial Bonifacio."
He met his wife in elementary school
Aquino met his future wife, Cory Cojuangco — who also grew up in a wealthy family in Tarlac — at a birthday party when they were nine years old.
He was a born-again Christian
During his seven-year imprisonment, Aquino read “Born Again,” a novel that led him to becoming a born-again Christian.
Why Ninoy Aquino Day is Important
It’s a commemoration
Ninoy Aquino Day celebrates the life of a man who did many positive things for the Philippines. Although Aquino’s life ended violently, this holiday enables his name to live on in a positive and inspiring way.
It honors the workers
Although Filipinos don't get the day off from work to celebrate Ninoy Aquino Day, their efforts do not go unnoticed. Employees receive a 30% bonus for working the holiday.
It’s a reminder of freedom
In addition to celebrating the legacy of Ninoy Aquino, this holiday reminds the people of the Philippines about the progress their country has made.
Ninoy Aquino Day dates