Opposition leader Benigno Aquino’s assassination in August 1983 ushered in the Philippine People Power Revolution of 1986. His killing, probably by government agents, generated intense public opposition to Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship and made it possible for his widow, Corazon Aquino, to rise to power.
General Romulo died only two months before Aquino became chief executive and Marcos went into exile. In his final days, all too aware of Filipinos’ growing discontent, Romulo worried that the nation—bankrupt and fast deteriorating—was headed for a bloody revolution. This letter, written by Romulo’s third son, Ricardo, discourages him from resigning from public service, as doing so at such a critical juncture would have had negative repercussions on the already battered economy.
At the time Ricardo wrote the letter, many of Romulo’s anti-Marcos friends and associates were urging him to resign. At the same time, the government was pressuring him to defend Marcos. Concerned about the vilification that would certainly be directed at his father if he did in fact resign, and its effect on him given his advanced age (Romulo was eighty-five at the time), Ricardo counseled him, essentially, to try to stay out of the fray.
(The quote at the end of the letter is from a famous homily entitled Second Spring by John Henry Cardinal Newman of England.)
Romulo took his son’s advice and did not resign immediately despite his poor health. He did, however, start to take steps to retire, which culminated in his December resignation letter (below). He also made known his resentment that Aquino’s assassination destroyed all his work in the US promoting Philippine interests, refused to sign a paid New York Times advertisement defending the Marcos government, and he paid his respects at Aquino’s wake.
“Whoever committed the murder made a big mistake,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post, while undergoing dialysis, in December 1983. “Whoever maneuvered that crude way is blameworthy. My only hope is that the guilty party is discovered and properly punished.”