Family, friends, and allies have gathered on Saturday to pay tribute to late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on his second death anniversary.
Aquino, who led the country from 2010 to 2016 with integrity and dedication, passed away on June 24, 2021 at the age of 61.
Two years after his passing, several members of the Aquino family visited his final resting at the Manila Memorial Park to hear mass in his honor. In attendance were the late president’s sisters Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, Viel Dee as well as Kris Aquino’s children Joshua and Bimby.
Former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, former Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, former PAGCOR chief Cristino Naguiat Jr., former Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad were among those who came to pay respects at the memorial service.
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“Two years later, there remains a gaping Tito Noy-shaped hole in all of our hearts,” Aquino’s nephew, Kiko Dee, said during the memorial.
Dee also remembered Aquino’s inspirational leadership when he sought to improve the lives of Filipino people.
“Maybe Tito Noy was inspiring not because he was martyred for the country or because he defeated a dictator but because he was imperfect,” he said.
“Among other things, he probably liked Coke and chicharon a bit too much, but despite his imperfections, he spent every day of his working life to move us just a little bit closer to the impossible dream of a perfect nation,” he added.
Aquino, a former lawmaker, was the only son of two democracy icons – the late Senator Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino who fought the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s.
Under his watch, Aquino pursued an anti-corruption crusade and presided over steady economic growth, rising foreign investments, robust defense relations with the United States, among others. The Aquino administration also scored a landmark victory against China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea before a UN-recognized arbitration court.
After his six-year stint in Malacañang, Aquino veered away from the political limelight, making occasional statements on national issues.