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A legacy of freedom fighters

Article - July 20, 2011
From a family legacy, President Aquino leads a new era for the Liberal Party and the Philippines
It is always a challenge to promote the legacy of a man and a family to become relevant, but in the case of Ninoy Aquino and his family, the Ninoy & Cory Aquino Foundation (Aquino Foundation) has taken up on this challenge to reach the lives of next generation Filipinos. To carry on the legacy of Ninoy Aquino, Rafael C. Lopa, president and executive director of the Aquino Foundation and nephew of Ninoy Aquino, has put together a campaign with Mekong Worldwide Crew to spread the values of the foundation.

“It revolved around the idea that if there is anything you want to communicate to young people, it is the whole idea that there is a hero and innate goodness in each one of us,” he says. “That is basically how she (Cory Aquino) felt we needed to communicate the legacy of Ninoy because he really embodied the idea of self-sacrifice for his country and people.”

Thus far, the Aquino Foundation has partnered with retail brands to introduce Ninoy Aquino to the public through merchandise that benefits numerous charities. The foundation has put together the campaign with the tagline ‘I am a hero, I do what I believe is right, I do what I believe is good, I fight for justice, I fight for freedom. I am Ninoy’.

The campaign logo, a pair of eyeglasses Ninoy Aquino was known for, has since become an iconic image. “The basic message of the campaign was ‘if you were to see the country through the eyes of Ninoy, what would you do now?’” Mr. Lopa says. “The whole idea of ‘I am Ninoy’ became a very effective model for us to talk about legacy, as it became so cool and fashionable to be a Ninoy in that sense, and we managed to generate a lot of interest in coming together.”

 THE AQUINO FOUNDATION HAS PUT TOGETHER THE CAMPAIGN WITH THE TAGLINE ‘I AM A HERO, I DO WHAT I BELIEVE IS RIGHT, I DO WHAT I BELIEVE IS GOOD, I FIGHT FOR JUSTICE, I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM. I AM NINOY’ 
The interest has grown significantly, having brought together an organization called ‘The Ninoy Runners’ and even gathering celebrity support from apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas to help advocate for the public education problem in the country. The star has agreed to be the foundation’s brand ambassador and plans to travel in and out of the Philippines to raise money for the programs and promote awareness about the problem. Mr. Lopa believes that taking the Aquino Foundation internationally through well-known Filipino figures like apl.de.ap is the next step in bringing Filipino issues to global awareness.

“We feel the whole idea of people wanting to give back to their country because they have been very successful abroad could be a way to bring them back to help the country further,” Mr. Lopa says.

The current President “Noynoy” Aquino is making it a point to fight poverty and improve the education system. Yet, despite the inclusion of various public-private partnerships put in place to help the government deal with the country’s problems like malnutrition, hunger and literacy, finding effective solutions is still a challenge. “Everything is interrelated and it’s extremely difficult to know where to begin,” Mr. Lopa says. Still, he believes that the Aquino Foundation has helped Filipino society progress over the years, despite the small monetary assistance it has been able to gather. “I would equate the success and impact of a foundation such as this by how much it has done for people who have created much bigger things,” he says.

As for the foundation’s future, Mr. Lopa is very optimistic. “If we do our job well, we will really promote the legacy of Ninoy and Cory Aquino and inspire others to be like these two people,” he comments. “Then I think this country will be a better place to live in. This country needs many leaders that should be able to look beyond themselves.”

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