• BAM AQUINO AND HIS TARLAC

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    The Aquinos of Tarlac have had a long tradition of public service and love of country.

    General Servillano Aquino was a revolutionary hero who participated in the activities of the Katipunan, and later the Philippine-American War. Benigno Q. Aquino, General Servillano’s son, was a wartime leader, a distinguished legislator, and member of the Quezon Cabinet. His son, Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., the father of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, is considered an icon of democracy.

    Coming from such an extraordinary family, it is not surprising that Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV had an extraordinary childhood. The son of Paul Aquino, the youngest brother of Senator Ninoy Aquino, he was only six years old when his uncle died. And as Filipinos began to express their outrage over his assassination, he recalls attending rallies and protest marches with as small as 20 persons and as large as thousands.

    By the time he was nine, “ we already did more than 200 speaking engagements. As a young boy, I got to see things that people of my age didn’t really get to see that much. I saw what the Filipino people can do and can be.”

    After graduating summa cum laude with a BSC in Management Engineering degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1999, Bam worked in the special projects group of ABS-CBN Foundation, and hosted Studio 23’s Breakfast and YSpeak for a number of years.

    Bam was made Chairman of the National Youth Commission, the main youth policy making arm of the Philippine Government from 2003 to 2006, the youngest person in Philippine history to head a government agency.

    While many of his relatives have entered politics to serve the public, Bam has chosen to take the social entrepreneurship route. In late 2006, he co-founded and is currently the President of Microventures, Inc. a social business enterprise that serves micro financing organizations and their clients through the Hapinoy Program.

    Sometime in 2007, he joined the board of Rags2 Riches, Inc. another social business enterprise that helps underprivileged women with livelihood projects.

    Bam has won numerous awards for his work, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines in 2010 in the Social Enterprise and Community Development category; the Young Global Leader Award by the World Economic Forum; and the Asian Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 by the World Economic Forum. Also in 2011, the Hapinoy Program bested 400 social enterprises from all over the world to win the United Nations Project Inspire Award.

    Despite all his awards and achievements, Bam remains humble and unaffected. “I would like to be remembered as a good son, a good friend, and someone who never stopped believing,” he says.

    Here, he takes us around his Tarlac and his SM.

     

    Bam at the lobby of the Aquino Museum

    Designed by Architect Dan Lichauco, the museum showcases the memorabilia of two icons of democracy – Ninoy and Cory Aquino, highlighting key events in political careers.  It also exhibits some personal items from the couple, including nature inspired paintings by President Cory Aquino.

    “There is a history of public service in our family and that has greatly affected my life and the choices I have made. My relatives gave so much to our country and never regretted it. And I also want to do the same thing and help in any way I can.

    My Uncle Ninoy never lost hope in and for the Filipino, and most likely the decision to go home came directly from his strengthened spirit and his hopeful heart. As for me, I’m strengthening my spirit, but my heart has always been hopeful for our country.”

    Bam is shown amidst huge photographs of his uncle, Senator Ninoy Aquino, at the lobby of the Aquino Museum in Tarlac. The museum was originally built for the late Senator, and inaugurated on August 21, 2001, the 18th anniversary of his death, by his wife, the late President Corazon Aquino.

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    Replica of Ninoy Aquno’s cell in Fort Bonifacio

    “If I would bring visitors around Tarlac, I would take them to the Aquino Museum, which chronicles the life, trials, and death of my uncle, Ninoy Aquino. It has numerous memorabilia, letters, photographs, and even shows a few documentaries on his life.

    You will also see a replica of his prison cell where he spent years of incarceration, as well as the bloodied jacket he wore when he was assassinated. After seeing the exhibits, you will understand him better and see his transformation into the great man and hero we all know.”

    The replica of Ninoy Aquino’s Fort Bonifacio cell at the Aquino Museum shows the place he spent his solitary confinement in from 1972-1980.

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    Bam and SM Vice President for Marketing Millie Dizon in the showcase replica of the Aquino ancestral home during the My City, My SM launch in SM City Tarlac.  

    “When I was growing up, we would spend summers in Concepcion, Tarlac; so I always look at our ancestral home with a child’s fondness. Our house is walking distance from the church, the park, and practically everything else. And for a city boy, this was very refreshing.

    Built before World War II, our ancestral home was witness to many historical events, including Tito Ninoy’s start as a public servant, and the struggle against the dictatorship in the 1980s. Most of all, the Concepcion house reminds me of my Lola, who I was very close to. She loved the house, and she loved Concepcion.”

    Three generations of Aquinos have lived in the Aquino ancestral home in Concepcion, Tarlac since it was built in 1939 with the help of wood craftsmen from Pampanga. These include General Servillano Aquino, Benigno Aquino, Sr., and the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. who was born there and resided there when he was Mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac.

    The National Historical Commission declared the Aquino home a historical landmark in 1987. More recently surviving Aquino family members decided to renovate the house so that the public could appreciate its historical value.

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    Bam with pioneer Hapinoy “nanays” Editha Miranda and Nelia Macaraan

    “My work now is in social enterprise. We help poor women in the countryside through Hapinoy.com. What we do is help support micro entrepreneurs like sari sari story owners or local producers in an area.

    If you are developing a community, it has to be regular and constant intervention. And for us, it’s best done through a business model.
    We assist them in doing their business through training, financing, and business support. Our belief is that if the small and micro businesses are stronger, the community can be more resilient.

    We are already in 200 communities and are expanding nationwide next year. The more people we will be able to help, the more we will be able to help the country.”

    The Hapinoy Program, which began a few years ago, is a multi awarded social enterprise that goes beyond the traditional concept of charity. The program aims to empower micro entrepreneurs by giving them assistance, opportunity, and knowledge.

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    Kapampangan cuisine

    “With regards to food, Kapampangan cuisine is the best. From fried hito with buro and mustasa to the best pork dishes, your taste buds will welcome the assault of varied and strong tastes. The best food can be found in homes, so you can thank your lucky stars when you are invited to partake in a home cooked meal.”

    As the most multicultural province of Central Luzon, Tarlac’s cuisine has Kapampangan, Ilocano, Pangasinan, and Tagalog influences. Bam, whose ancestors come from Pampanga, loves Kapampangan cuisine like hito or catfish with buro or fermented shrimp paste and mustasa.

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    Capas National Shrine, Carlos Romulo Ancestral Home, Leonor Rivera Ancestral Home

    “There are many interesting historical stops one can visit in Tarlac.”

    Tarlac is cradle of noble heroes like the Aquinos who have done so much for our country. The Capas National Shrine is a memorial to the Filipino and American soldiers who died in Camp O’Donnell at the end of the Bataan Death March. Built by the Philippine government, the shrine encompasses 54 hectares filled with trees commemorating the deceased. A new memorial wall and obelisk were unveiled on April 9, 2003.

    The ancestral homes of Carlos P, Romulo, the country’s greatest diplomat, and Leonor Rivera both in Camiling are other another interesting historical sites. Personal articles and furniture owned by Rivera, as well as letters written by Dr. Jose Rizal can be found in the home of Leonor Rivera, whom was immortalized as Maria Clara in his novels.

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    SM City Tarlac

    “Our family used to go to SM together when I was young. First it was Megamall, then North EDSA. Now my office is near SM Marikina.

    The prices in SM are very affordable, and it is nice to know that there is an SM mall at every other town which you can go to.”

    SM City Tarlac has changed the standards of shopping, leisure, and entertainment in the Melting Pot of Central Luzon.

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    Bam in Cyberzone

    “Whenever I go to SM, I visit the Cyberzone because I love gadgets. I am a technophile, and I was probably the happiest person when Cyberzone first opened in SM.

    Bam at the Cybezone at SM City Tarlac.