For Ninoy and the People
Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Manila
August 31, 1998
It is never too late to advance the cause of democracy by honoring its struggles and celebrating its victories. For somewhere in the world, there are always women and men who see what their jailers cannot, through the bars or their prison: in the distant triumphs of democracy — the hope of freedom.
There is never a wrong time to honor courage, conviction and right, because these qualities are always in short supply yet ever in infinite demand, wherever freedom is sought and democracy is threatened.
Every tribute advances these causes, encourages these qualities, and brings so much closer their victory and vindication.
I accept this award on behalf of those great individuals who first glimpsed the potential of peace at a time when the conventional wisdom prescribed force for the attainment of justice, and war for the achievement of freedom.
I accept this award on behalf of that man, who having read about this vision of the power of peace, dared to put it into practice in the age of extremes in which he live — and in the face of the annihilation he read in the eyes of his escorts.
I accept this award on behalf of those people, who seeing with their own eyes, on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, how violence answers peace and force reacts to fortitude, yet dared to repeat the example of that man — first each person by himself, then all together in the millions.
I accept this award on behalf of those women and men today, who still dare to make the same fateful commitment to People Power, despite its uneven record of success. For every EDSA, Prague and Berlin, there has been an East Timor, a Rangoon and a Tienanmen Square.
I accept the Ramon Magsaysay Award with humility in the light of history's most earth-shaking yet peaceful events — Gandhi gathering a handful of salt, that unknown Chinese blocking a column of tanks with only a brief-case of office work in his hand, Nelson Mandela putting 27 years of imprisonment behind him to lead all South Africans — black and white, his jailers and their victims — to a greater country.
I accept this award on behalf of the man who perhaps most deserved it, because he idolized and served President Ramon Magsaysay and paid The Guy the ultimate tribute of imitation by giving his life for his country.
I accept this award on behalf of the Filipino People who followed in Ninoy's potentially fatal footsteps and proved what Ninoy always believed about them: THE FILIPINO IS WORTH DYING FOR.
I accept this award on behalf of the people of Burma who have had a longer and bloodier road to freedom than we had travelled, but who plod on regardless.
I accept this award, finally, for my five children, Ballsy, Pinky, Noy-Noy, Viel and Kris, whose unquestioning support and uncomplaining sacrifices, gave me the strength to complete what my husband began and my people continued: the victory of People Power for democracy.
I thank with all my heart Mrs. Luz Magsaysay and her family, the trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation and all the people who have been praying for me and with me. Maraming salamat po!