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Greenstreet

Benigno Aquino Triangle

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. (1932-1983) was a martyr for political freedom and a national leader in the Philippines. Aquino was shot and killed in Manila Airport on August 23, 1983 on his return to the Philippines after a three-year exile in the United States.

Born to a wealthy and politically involved family, Aquino followed the path of his relatives and rapidly became involved in politics after a brief tenure as a journalist. His rise was formidable, though marked by a constant opposition to his future adversary, Ferdinand Marcos (1917-1989.) Aquino was Mayor of his hometown of Concepcion by 1955, Vice-Governor of Tarlac province by 1959, Governor of that province by 1961, Secretary General of the Liberal Party by 1966, and Senator by 1967.

Though he accomplished all of this by age 35, Aquino suffered for his political involvement. After the 1972 imposition of martial law by Marcos, he was imprisoned and eventually sentenced to death in 1977. His sentence was commuted in 1980, when Aquino was allowed to leave for the United States to receive medical treatment for a heart condition.

When he returned to the Philippines in 1983, Aquino was assassinated. His assassination sparked massive demonstrations against the Philippine government, a ruling body that many blamed for his death. President Marcos denied the allegations, but a civilian commission investigating the assassination reported in 1984 that the death was planned and executed by the Philippine military. A year later, however, the Philippine Supreme Court acquitted the military personnel involved. Nonetheless, the assassination of Benigno Aquino and his wife’s subsequent entry into politics were two major causes of the fall of Ferdinand Marcos. Benigno’s wife, Corazon Aquino, replaced Marcos after the presidential election of 1986, despite her lack of formal political experience, carrying on the campaign of democracy started by her husband.

This triangle, located at 184th Place south of Hillside Avenue, is in Hollis, Queens, which was founded in 1885. The arrival of the trolley service in 1897 was soon followed by a growth of middle class housing estates. By 1921 the demand for housing had grown strong enough to warrant the construction of blocks of row houses, concentrated between Jamaica and Hillside Avenues. By the Second World War no open land remained, and shortly after the war the ethnic composition of the neighborhood started to change. By 1980 the population was 80 percent African American and Hispanic, with a significant Philippine community.

This site is a Greenstreets property. Greenstreets is a Parks and Transportation initiative that converts paved street areas, such as traffic triangles, into green spaces.

Learn more about the Greenstreets program.

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