Today is the 25th anniversary of the death of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and I guess it’s only fitting to feature the place where this eminent statesman was assassinated and that is the tarmac of NAIA Terminal 1. I was only a day over three years old when Ninoy Aquino was gunned down shortly after de-boarding his plane at the Manila International Airport coming from a three-year exile in the United States during Ferdinand Marcos’ administration. (See this iconic TV screenshot of Ninoy lying down on the tarmac.) The passage of Republic Act No. 6639 on August 17, 1987, during the administration of Cory Aquino —Ninoy’s wife—gave the airport its present name: Ninoy Aquino International Airport or NAIA.
Aquino’s assassination ultimately started the chain of events that led to the downfall of Marcos’ regime and the return of democracy to the Philippines. Two independent commissions were started by Marcos to investigate the assassination and the second one, the Agrava Fact-finding Board, concluded that the military men that accompanied Aquino at the airport as well as Marcos’ right hand man Gen. Fabian Ver were behind the murder, though they were acquitted in 1985. Later, a trial opened in 1986 during Cory Aquino’s administration and found rank-and-file military men guilty in 1991 and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua. These men (some have died) are still at the New Bilibid Prison serving their sentence though there have been moves to give them presidential pardon in the past few years. Despite the closure of sorts, the mastermind behind the killing is still unidentified.
As for NAIA Terminal 1, the building was quite state-of-the-art when it was constructed way back in 1981. Due to its age and decrepit state, two more terminals were constructed: the previously featured Centennial Terminal in 1998 (opened in 1999) and the controversy-ridden Terminal 3, which finally started operations late last month. If you’re interested, there’s tons of information over at the airport’s Wikipedia article.