08 May 2010

Noynoy: Son of Democracy Heroes

Noynoy Rally
By Agence France-Presse, 2 May 2010

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino has capitalised on the powerful legacy of his famous parents to stand on the brink of becoming the next Philippine president.

Balding, bespectacled and still a bachelor at the age of 50, Aquino's critics seek to portray him as an uncharismatic politician with few results to show for 11 years as a member of the national parliament.

However, he has stunned his rivals by maintaining a strong lead in opinion polls ahead of the May 10 national elections.

Aquino is the only son among five children of Corazon and Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, revered figures in the Philippines for fighting against and eventually ending the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos gunmen shot dead Benigno Aquino Snr at Manila's airport in 1983 as he tried to return from US exile.

His death turned him into a political martyr and his wife into the leader of a democracy movement that toppled Marcos with the "people power" revolution of 1986.

Corazon Aquino then served as the Philippines' president for six years, earning a reputation for being honest that has carried over to her son, whose main campaign platform is to fight corruption.

Cory Aquino's death last year from cancer served as the catalyst for her son's stunning political rise, and he readily admits he would not be where he is today without his parents.

"That opened all of the doors," he told AFP recently, in reference to his parents' legacy.

Aquino studied economics at an exclusive Roman Catholic university and later worked for his mother. He was also a volunteer outreach worker for impoverished communities.

Prior to his mother's death, he was best known as the brother of television talk show host Kris Aquino.

Aquino is no stranger to violence, with a bullet embedded in his neck.

As he drove back to the presidential palace in 1987 during one of the many coup attempts against his mother, right-wing soldiers ambushed his convoy, killing three of his four bodyguards.

Five bullets also struck him, and one of the slugs remains in his neck.