Senator assassinated at the airport. Snap Elections. End of Marcos regime. Dominance of yellow as a political color. Democracy given to the Filipino people. These are only the things I know related to the Aquino family (aside from the show business issues of the youngest Aquino) but I was able to know more about the family who stood up to regain the freedom of the Filipino nation on my visit to the Aquino Center in Tarlac.
After my breakfast at Microtel Luisita, we had a short visit to the center. It houses some of the memorable and historical keepsakes of the prominent family. Sir Ace of Microtel Tarlac served as my in-house guide and walked me through the different parts of the center. The museum was segmented on galleries from the childhood years of both late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, to their wedding rites up to the Martial Law era and to the reclamation of the nation’s democracy.
Not known to many that the teenage Ninoy was once a war correspondent in Korea during the 1950’s. With that, a set of original Rolleiflex camera, light meter and lens cap were witnesses to this part of his life. In 1960, he was awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Philippines for his outstanding achievement on public service.
A wedding photo of the couple gave me goose bumps. A tradition during a wedding is the release of doves in which the bride and groom release two doves. During this part of their wedding, a photo was captured wherein the doves landed on Cory’s head and Ninoy’s shoulder. Maybe it was already the fate of the couple to secure the freedom of the nation with the scene as a sign.
Next branch of the museum is the Martial Law era; his arrest, exile and assassination. A replica of his cell in Fort Bonifacio is also available on this part of the museum. It attempts to capture the essence of Ninoy’s solitary confinement from 1972-1980. You can also find the different items of Ninoy during his exile: Ninoy’s “Marcial Bonifacio” passport and boarding pass, a handcarry luggage taken away from him by an AVSECOM agent before he was shot, his broken eyeglasses, wristwatch, wedding ring, wallet, rosary and bible.
The exact clothes Ninoy’s wearing when he was shot were also preserved on this gallery. Another interesting item to check out is the list of the million signatures nationwide during the 1986 presidential snap elections where Cory Aquino was requested by the Filipino people to run against President Ferdinand Marcos. Corazon Aquino won the elections and served as the 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines.
For the post Martial Law era section, you can find a photo showing Cory wading on the shores of Boracay when the island wasn’t developed yet. Other things to check out are the first set of printed 500-peso bill having Ninoy on it on a frame and some paintings of Cory mainly containing flowers. Located near the main hall are the tile mosaics of the couple.
The Aquino Center and Museum is really a destination in its own right. It preserves not just the story of the Aquino family but of the Filipino people: their fight to regain democracy and their example of people oneness that inspired the world.
Museum is open everyday from 8:00AM to 5:00PM except for major holidays. It is located along Luisita Access Road near Robinson’s Luisita and also accessible via Microtel Tarlac which is only walking distance from the museum.
THE AQUINO CENTER
Luisita Industrial Park Road
San Miguel, Tarlac
Contact Person: Ms Karen Lacsamana-Carrera
Contact No.: +63 45-9850968 to 69