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Remembering a colorful week with 'Ninoy' before declaration of martial law in l972

By Satur P. Apoyon

DAVAO CITY, Nov. 26 –- As the nation marks his 78th birth anniversary on Saturday, Nov. 27, I never thought before that I would be a part of the colorful past of the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" S. Aquino Jr.

A week before then President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 2l, l972, I rode in a car to Digos, Davao del Sur, with Senator Ninoy Aquino.

The Tarlac journalist-turned-politician would deliver a speech before students of the Holy Cross College of Digos shortly before noontime in that would-be capital city of Davao del Sur.

Sleeping at a relative in Bajada, this city, the visiting Marcos oppositionist senator also rode on the host’s bulky Mercedes Benz. Ninoy occupied the front seat.

At the back seat with me were Bobby Montemayor, a former Labor department regional executive and sightless radio and television commentator at the time, and Romeo C. Chan, a Manila Bulletin correspondent. We comprised the three-man news team covering the former Korean war reporter of the Manila Times.

I represented the defunct PNS (Philippine News Service) in my capacity as correspondent for South Davao following its inauguration as a new split province of the then lone Davao Province on July l, l967.

At that time, Ninoy was ripe for the l973 presidential election against Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos whose husband would no longer qualify for a third term following his reelection in l969.

Thus, when Ninoy took the rostrum before the college symposia, his tirades were centered on the alleged Marcos conjugal wealth and abuses.

I remember Ninoy was emotional in "pulverizing" Marcos with his so-called seven mansions' expose.

On our way back to the city some 60 kilometers east of Digos, Ninoy again sat in the front seat left of the driver of his host Fred Pineda.

Then he resumed his demolition obsession against the Marcoses' running the country by the barrel of the guns.

A good talker, pregnant with facts and figures plus crispy English of an erudite journalist and statesman, I did not mind being a mere listener in the entire trip. (PNA Features) scs/Satur P. Apoyon/ldp

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