Is the Filipino Still Worth Dying For

Published on August 21, 2021

This article is about Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, a Motu Proprio Human Rights Violations Victim of the Martial Law Era. To read more on them, read their Roll of Victims entry here: Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.

To learn more about the list of Motu Proprio Victims, press this link: Motu Proprio

To read the entire Roll of Victims, press this link: Roll of Victims

“I have asked myself many times: Is the Filipino worth suffering, or even dying, for? Is he not a coward who would readily yield to any colonizer, be he foreign or homegrown? Is a Filipino more comfortable under an authoritarian leader because he does not want to be burdened with the freedom of choice? Is he unprepared, or worse, ill-suited for presidential or parliamentary democracy? I have carefully weighed the virtues and the faults of the Filipino and I have come to the conclusion that he is worth dying for because he is the nation’s greatest untapped resource.”[1]

[Part of the speech given by Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. on August 4, 1980, at a convocation of the Asia Society in New York City]
August 21, 2021

As the country remembers the 38th death anniversary of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., former senator who strongly opposed the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and whose assassination sparked the People Power Movement of 1986, we look upon the famous quote “The Filipino is worth dying for”— an excerpt from his 1980 speech.

Many times in our struggle for democracy, we often ask the same question. Amidst the attacks and the threats of harm against our people, are we really worth dying for?

On this day, we remember the man who tried to prove just that. Despite the danger, Ninoy Aquino returned to the Philippines on August 21, 1983. Imelda Marcos had advised him that his plan of returning to the country would be at risk. She claimed that communists or even some of Marcos’ allies would try to kill him.[2] On the day of his return, he was shot at the Manila International Airport, believing until the end that the Filipinos would lead their nation towards a democratic society where freedom and justice prevail.

Ninoy aquino's death

While still alive, he was a good political performer in front of a public already disenchanted by Marcos but afraid of finding its own voice against a tyrant. Ninoy presented himself as the “peskiest thorn in Marcos’ side.”[3] On his death, many were inspired to step up and continue his mission to challenge the dictatorship.

A ‘social volcano’ was revealed—one which had long been kept at bay by strong military support for the Marcos regime. His assassination, however, opened the floodgates of a vast anti-fascist and anti-dictatorship alliance. It galvanized popular opposition to the Marcos government, and brought his widow, Corazon Aquino, to the political forefront.

A landscape photo of Luneta park showing an enormous crowd of people coming together for the funeral march of Ninoy Aquino following his assassination. Some people can be seen climbing on to traffic posts and lamp posts to gain a better view of the procession. Some people close to the procession are also raising their hands in support

Quoted from An Eyewitness History People Power: “The Philippine Revolution of 1986: More than just a funeral, the procession of mourners for Ninoy Aquino was a political demonstration, the biggest within memory…”

The death of Ninoy ever since has been popularly perceived as a catalyst for the demise of repressive regimes, paving the way for a transition towards the restoration of democracy.

The Filipino is Worth Dying For

The spirit behind these words can be said to be very much alive today.

Medical professionals, our frontliners and essential workers in the various sectors continue to risk their lives under the pandemic working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the people and to deliver goods and services in the daily fight against COVID-19.

With the current state of our nation, many are disillusioned and skeptical. We have come to a difficult time in our history. We have been battling with the virus for nearly two years now. No matter how difficult or dangerous times may get, we must remember that things can be changed for the better.

We Filipinos have our own identity and honorable heritage. If we put ourselves to work, we can accomplish greater things. This can prove what kind of people we are. Improvement can be made through our unified, collective action.

The Filipinos are worth dying for. Even when faced with challenges, we are still passionate. We always have the courage to stand up and strive.

Ninoy argued that the Filipino is worth dying for because he believed that the Filipino is the nation’s “greatest untapped resource”[4]. The Filipino adapts until his patience runs out. He does not take up arms unless all other means are exhausted. Despite all of his faults, the Filipino is worth dying for because he is the future of this nation.

The Filipino is worth fighting for, dying for, and living for. We carry the potential to bring about lasting transformation in our society.

Call to Action

One way to honor our heroes is through a simple call to kindness, which is the foundation of respect and equality. We should lift each other’s spirits and be the support that our countrymen need.

As the future of this nation, let us be the bearer of truth. We should not accept the distortion of our history. Let us rise together to combat obstacles that may come our way. 

In this time of advanced technology, let us use our ideas in social media and transform them into engaged participation on the ground. We should always be engaged, optimistic, and be the next generation of changemakers.

We can effect change by learning how to make the first move. We should work hand-in-hand to make our country a better place to live in— not just for us, but for the future generations to come.


[1] The Manila Times. “’The Filipino Is Worth Dying For’.” The Manila Times, The Manila Times, 22 Aug. 2010,

[2] “Mrs. Marcos Testifies She Warned Aquino Not to Return to Manila.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 July 1984,

[3] Caralde, Mae Urtal. “Of Bodies, Death, and Martyrdom: The Case of Ninoy and Cory Aquino’s Death and the Re-Articulations of Philippine Political Narratives.” International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, vol. 14, no, 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 17-29. EBSCOhost

[4] The Manila Times. “’The Filipino Is Worth Dying For’.” The Manila Times, The Manila Times, 22 Aug. 2010,


  1.  Brion, Rofel G. Philippine Studies, vol. 33, no. 4, 1985, pp. 544–545. JSTOR, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

  2. Caralde, Mae Urtal. “Of Bodies, Death, and Martyrdom: The Case of Ninoy and Cory  Aquino’s Death and the Re-Articulations of Philippine Political Narratives.” International  Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, vol. 14, no, 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 17-29. EBSCOhost.  Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.

  3. Lim, David, et al. “RESPONDING TO PHILIPPINE REALITIES TODAY.Transformation, vol.  1, no. 3, 1984, pp. 6–10. JSTOR, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021. 

  4. Naidu, G. V. C. “Repression and Resistance.Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 20, no. 3,  1985, pp. 101–103. JSTOR, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

  5. Romana-Cruz, Neni Sta. “Ninoy Aquino: Not a Mere Exile.” Asian and Pacific Migration  Journal, vol. 8, no. 1–2, Mar. 1999, pp. 223–237, doi:10.1177/011719689900800113.  Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.