Benigno Aquino III

”Yung isang klaseng broken heart, ‘di kaya dito’

Aika Rey

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”Yung isang klaseng broken heart, ‘di kaya dito’

'BROKEN HEART.' Fr. Jett Villarin, former Ateneo president, gives the homily during the Mass for the late former president Benigno Aquino III on June 25, 2021.

Angie de SIlva/Rappler

Fr. Jett Villarin remembers how, despite being president, Noynoy Aquino had to endure many losses yet remained hopeful

Former Ateneo president Fr. Jose Ramon “Jett” Villarin, S.J. celebrated the life of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s by remembering his optimism despite his many heartbreaks and heartaches as leader of the nation. 

On Friday, June 25, during a Mass concelebrated by several Jesuits, Villarin, in his homily, shared his recent text exchanges with the former president. Aquino, also Villarin’s college friend, had undergone an angioplasty in May, a procedure that opens up clogged heart arteries.

Aquino texted Villarin: “The heart got enlarged because it was working so hard to remove the fluid because efficiency was down due to the blockage.” 

Villarin replied, “Kaya pala stouthearted ka. 🙂 Sige, now the heart can rest…. Pahinga ka pa at hayaan mong humilom ang puso.” (That’s why you’re stouthearted…. Rest some more and allow the heart to heal.)

Aquino replied in his text message: “Yoong isang klaseng broken heart, hindi kaya dito (They can’t fix the other type of broken heart here).”

Villarin said he was just one among many who witnessed the many heartbreaks of Aquino, who, despite being president, had to endure many losses.

Pangulo siya pero ilang beses siyang nakatikim ng talo. May mga hapon na ibinuhos niya sa amin ni Cardinal Chito Tagle ang tampo niya sa simbahan o sa mga Heswita, o ang kanyang isyu sa sistema ng katarungan sa bansa (hindi lang sa Korte Suprema). Naroon lagi ang tampo sa bagal ng kilos, sa kupad ng takbo ng pag-unlad ng bansa,” said Villarin.

[He was president but he tasted defeat numerous times. There were some days when he would tell me and Cardinal Chito Tagle about his grievances against the Church or even against the Jesuits, or his issues against the judicial system (and not just the Supreme Court). He was always frustrated with the country’s slow progress.]

Ang broken heart ng taong ito nasobrahan din ng broken heart ng taumbayan,” Villarin also said, as Aquino had to bear the weight of a people’s own broken heart.

Ang broken heart ng bayan ay lalo pang nagagasgasan ng kagaspanganan ng kung anu-anong dahas na walang pinagpipitagan. Ang karahasan at pananakot na panakip-butas lamang sa isang malalim na kahinaan,” the former Ateneo president said.

(The nation’s broken heart was further bruised with the crudeness of violence that knows no respect. The violence and fear that only mask a deeper weakness.)

”Yung isang klaseng broken heart, ‘di kaya dito’
A fighter

Villarin remembered Aquino for being a fighter, one who was used to pushing forward policies that could benefit all.

“Doon pa lang sa aming kabataan, natuto na kami makipagbakbakan. Walang personalan, basta para sa kapakanan ng kalahatan,” he said.

(When we were young, we learned how to fight. Nothing personal, and just for the welfare of all.)

Villarin said he, along with current Ateneo president Fr. Roberto Yap and Aquino, were student leaders back in college when Fr Bienvenido Nebres was still dean. Villarin, a physics major at the time, was a year ahead of Aquino, an economics major who obtained his degree in 1981.

Villarin also shared how impatient Aquino was. One time, Villarin said, he thought Aquino was not listening to the Jesuits’ wishlist of reforms, only to find out that the late president was already texting his Cabinet secretaries so they could act on their grievances.

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He also mentioned why La Sallian Brother Armin Luistro stayed as Aquino’s education secretary.

“Whenever there’s something that needs to be decided on, he always asked, ‘How will this decision affect the poor?'” Villarin recalled Luistro as saying. “Kung ganoon magtanong ang pinuno, paano nga naman hindi ka maeengganyo?” (If that’s what your leader asks. how would you not be encouraged?)

Of burgers and hope

Back in May, as Villarin asked Aquino to remain stouthearted, no matter what, the late president replied with what would turn out to be his last text message.

“Huling text niya sa akin. ”Pre, kung sa grade school may hamburger, umasa at may pag-asa,'” Villarin said.

(His last text message to me was, “My friend, if the grade school [cafeteria] had hamburgers, have faith because there is hope.)

With Aquino’s passing, Villarin said it is now the turn of the former president to pray for Filipinos.

“Noy, ikaw naman ngayon ang pray from home, ang pray from heaven, ikaw naman para sa amin ang manalangin,” Villarin said. (Noy, it’s now your turn to pray from home, pray from heaven. It’s now your turn to pray for us.) –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at