[Part II] As the Boeing 767 reached cruising altitude, the cameramen & reporters noisily went into action, crowding the aisles near Ninoy's seat. They were quickly asked to go the rear of the airplane, which was virtually empty.
Former Philippine Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr., being interviewed by
ABC News Correspondent Jim Laurie inside Boeing 767 during the flight to Manila.
Ninoy spent most of the in-flight time posing for photographs & giving interviews. Finally, interviews over, Ninoy returned to his original seat, but was besieged by a handful of Filipino passengers. One woman kept kissing him & the cameras rolled again. Ninoy was embarrassed. "My wife's not going to like this," he muttered. Other Filipinos asked for his autograph. One shoved her passport in front of him & asked him to sign it. He started to do so. "Noy, you can't sign a passport!" Kashiawara exclaimed. He hadn't realized what he was signing & autographed her boarding card instead.
Just before the plane began its descent, Ninoy took out his bulletproof vest, went to the bathroom & put it on. When he sat down again, he turned to Kashiawara & wondered if we were going to land. There had been speculation that the Manila control tower would refuse permit the plane to touch down & would order it back to Taipei. "I think it's a victory if we just land," Ninoy said. "Everything else is a bonus." As the plane descended over a Philippine landscape of rice fields & rural villages, Ninoy reached into his bag & handed Kashiawara a box. "Here," he said, "I want you to have my watch." Kashiawara was stunned. "Why ? Why are you doing this ?" Ninoy replied "I just want you to have it." Kashiawara took it as a symbol of their adventure together.
Then he repeated instructions he had given his brother-in-law earlier. "Don't forget to go to my house as soon as we land & have someone take my belongings to me in prison. It's the same stuff I had there before. They'll know." Kashiawara turned away for a few minutes, & when he looked back, Ninoy was fingering his rosary beads, his lips moving in silent prayer.
As the China Airlines jet touched down, Kashiawara turned & said: "Noy, we're home." Ninoy smiled. Then came some tense minutes while the plane taxied. Kiyoshi Wakamiya, a Japanese correspondent & close friend of Ninoy's who sat next to Kashiawara, was clearly agitated. Looking out the window, he exclaimed that the tarmac was deserted. Kashiawara leaned over to look. As the China Airlines jet taxied by other planes parked by the terminal, the absence of activity appeared ominous. But then Kashiawara caught a glimpse of two maintenance men under two of the planes & dismissed the fear.
As the jet turned into Gate 8, Wakamiya could see part of the welcoming crowd in front of the terminal building. Ninoy looked pleased. But as they pulled into the gate, Kashiawara noticed several soldiers dressed in khakis standing under the jetway. A vehicle was parked there, too. Then a blue van pulled up, the back door opened & a group of soldiers dressed in blue fatigues & carrying rifles & pistols jumped out, fanning out around the plane. Inside, a ripple of nervous chatter spread through the plane as people crowded the windows, watching the activity on the tarmac. Shutters clicked in a half-dozen cameras.
What would happen next would alter the course of Philippine history & the entire world....................
Post by 49ersfootball on Aug 11, 2020 18:58:05 GMT
The day that changed the Philippines forever
Sunday, August 21st, 1983
Manila International Airport, Manila, Philippines
Former Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., being escorted out of China Airlines. What would happen next would alter
the course of Philippine history....
As soon as the engines of China Airlines shut down, three khaki-clad soldiers began climbing the service stairs of the jetway. The tension increased very fast. "Noy, they're coming to get you," Kashiawara warned. He was nervous, but still assumed they were going to escort Ninoy to prison & that the soldiers in blue were there as "window dressing"-----to provide security because of the alleged assassination plot.
Passengers began standing up to disembark. Cameramen & photographers remained at the windows. Then came an announcement over the plane's intercom: "Would all passengers please remain on board." For a few seconds there was silence, then everyone resumed talking.
The three soldiers began making their way down the aisle, stepping around photographers & cameramen, who by now were standing or kneeling on seats, camera shutters clicking. The first soldiers walked right past Ninoy, but the second one, who wore sunglasses, recognized him. The third soldier bent down; Ninoy smiled & shook his hand (Kashiawara remembered Lupita (Kashiawara's wife & Ninoy's sister) once telling him that Filipinos are cordial even to their enemies.) They exchanged a few words in Tagalog. Then Ninoy stood up from his seat & the three soldiers began to escort the former Philippine Senator & opposition leader out of the plane.
By now, the sound of excited chatter had gone up several decibels. All the while, the shutters clicked & cameramen, photographers & reporters shouted & jostled for vantage points.
Kashiawara waited for Ninoy to tell the soldiers that he wanted his brother-in-law to accompany him, but he didn't & began walking away from him. Over the noise, Kashiawara shouted a reminder to him: "Noy, can I go with you ?" He turned back & looked at him for a split second, unsmiling. Without breaking stride, he said quickly: "Yeah, come on." The last soldier leading him out was just ahead of Kashiawara, who leaned forward & said" "I'm his brother-in-law. Can I go with him ?" The soldier turned back & ordered: "You just take seat!"
Undeterred, Kashiawara decided to follow anyway, but the passenger compartment had become chaotic. Television crews & photographers jumped in front of him to follow, too, pushing & shoving as they left the plane & stepped onto the jetway leading into the terminal. But once inside the jetway, the soldiers abruptly pushed Ninoy out the service door. Plainclothes security guards who had been waiting in the jetway pushed the windowed door shut & blocked it on the outside. Cameramen & reporters pushed against the door, shouting at each other & at the guards. Kashiawara pushed too, straining to see over them, but he wasn't get a clear view.
Then all of a sudden just nine seconds after Ninoy went out the door, everyone inside heard the first shot: BANG! There was instant pandemonium. Everyone pushed harder, trying to get the door open. Four seconds later, everyone heard three additional shots ringing out: BANG, BANG, BANG! This time, the jetway was filled with shouts. Then all of a sudden, a burst of automatic-rifle fire. "GODDAMIT!" Kashiawara yelled. "Bastards! Bastards!" This wasn't supposed to happen! It couldn't have happened!
The aftermath of chaos: former Philippine Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr., shot to death on the tarmac of Manila International Airport
Struggling to get any view of what was going on outside, Kashiawara had to see what's going on, but couldn't in the crush. He ran to a window of the jetway, but couldn't see anything from there either. Reporters & camera crews stampeded back into the plane, hoping for a better view. He ran after them. Inside the plane, passengers were screaming. The journalists were pushing against the windows to see what was happening, climbing over passengers to do so.
From the perspective of Kashiawara: "What happened? What happened?" I shouted, shaking with rage. Vanzi, the UPI correspondent, approached. "I'm sorry," he said, a stunned look on his face. "I saw him on the ground. He was shot in the head. There was a lot of blood. I'm sure he's dead."
"Are you sure it was him ? Are you sure ?" I was frantic. Vanzi replied, "Yeah, I'm sure. I'm sorry, man." I wasn't satisfied. I asked Wakamiya. "They killed him! They killed him!" he gasped.
Security soldiers lifting Aquino's body into a security van after shooting the reported assassin.
By the time I fought my way to the window, Ninoy's body was gone. The soldiers had lifted him into the blue van & driven off, I was told. There was only a body dressed in blue on the tarmac.
"Those bastards! Those-----bastards," I muttered over & over. Reporters began asking passengers what they saw. Some passengers were crying; some reporters were in a state of shock. Photographers were still pointing their cameras out the windows. With Ninoy's body gone, the only thing I could think of at that point was getting out into the terminal to tell my wife, Lupita & Ninoy's mother what had happened.
I ran through the jetway toward the terminal. There was a long line at the immigration counter. I ran to the front & told the first man in line: "My brother-in-law has been shot. I have to get through." He quickly stepped back.
Once through immigration, I ran into some journalists who were there to cover the homecoming. "Where's Lupita ?" I asked frantically. Lupita had been the family's contact with the press. They pointed me to the VIP room in the far corner of the terminal. On the way there, some members of the family called my name & tried to stop me. I kept walking.
The VIP room was jammed with reporters & cameramen. I called for Lupita. Cameras began pointing toward me; microphones were thrust in my face. "What happened ?" they asked. I didn't answer. I found Lupita. I was still shaking. She took me into a corner. I told her what had happened. Someone else stuck a microphone between us. I lost my control. "Get that goddamn thing out of my face!" I yelled, shoving it away. "He was my brother-in-law." Unconsciously, I had used the past tense. I saw Ninoy's mother, Dona Aurora Aquino, sitting in a chair looking at me, deep sorrow in her eyes. I didn't have the heart to tell her. I went over, kissed & hugged her. "Mommy" was all I could say.