Aquino arrives in Boston for first visit since ‘83
BOSTON—President Benigno Aquino III arrived in Boston tonight (Sunday morning in Manila) for a four-day stay in the United States that is both a working visit and a personal one.
This is the first time that Mr. Aquino returned to Massachusetts where his family lived in exile for three years before his father, opposition leader Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. was assassinated on August 21, 1983. The murder had been blamed on the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Philippine Airlines PR 001 touched down at the Logan International Airport at 8:33pm from Germany, the last leg of Mr. Aquino’s backbreaking four-nation swing in Europe.
“I think he will walk through memory lane as he looks back to the days that he spent here in Boston,” Philippine Ambassador to the Philippines Jose Cuisia, Jr. told reporters.
If it was any indication of his anticipation to see Boston, the President was said to had constantly peered through the window of his chartered plane to look at the city’s bright lights as the aircraft prepared to land.
Ninoy Aquino spent three years with his wife, Cory, and five children in a red brick two-story home on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, a town some 15 kilometers away from Boston.
Cory returned to Boston in September 1986 as Philippine President, following the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. As if by serendipity, Ninoy and Cory’s only son returned exactly 28 years later, also as President.
Mr. Aquino is scheduled to have a private meeting with his parents’ closest friends in Boston, the venue and time of which have not been released to the media.
It has yet to be confirmed if Mr. Aquino will be able to visit family’s old home.
A retired American schoolteacher now owns the house and allowed Filipino journalists to take photos of it. The owner’s niece said their family knew the significance of the house to Filipinos and their history.
In his speeches at Boston College, the JFK Forum at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Columbia University in New York City, President Aquino will be expected to talk about the Philippines’ call for adherence to the rule of law in resolving the territorial dispute with China as well as the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a cornerstone of his administration.
But Cuisia said the President “will devote quite a bit of his talks to the good news about the Philippine economy and the fact that it is very timely for not just US firms, but many other firms” to invest.
“One that he (President Aquino) can be very proud of is the good governance mantra that he has been advocating from the start of his administration because that has really engendered tremendous optimism and confidence among international investors,” Cuisia said.
On Sunday afternoon, President Aquino will attend mass at the Boston College. He will give a speech at a reception with the Filipino-American community from the Boston and New York area.
He will also meet with the recipients of the Benigno and Corazon Aquino Scholarship at Boston College.
On Monday, he will give a policy speech at the. Cuisia described it as a “very prestigious forum.”
It would be followed by a question and answer hour.
Mr. Aquino is also scheduled to meet with Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, a scion of the influential Kennedy family, at Bill’s Pizzeria, said to be a favorite of the President when he lived in Massachusetts as a young man in his early 20s.
President Aquino is also scheduled to have a business meeting with an American company as well as interviews with US-based media.
From Boston, Mr. Aquino will fly to New York City where he would be staying for only 36 hours.
He is among the world leaders who would be speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on Tuesday.
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