August 31, 2010
5 Penn Plaza, Ste. 1932
New York, NY 10001
Dear Mr. Editor:
Your article on the Benigno Aquino Triangle that appeared last week caught my attention due to an unfortunate but persistent omission of a very important historical fact.
The question is: Who initiated this project and how this vacant public lot came to be named as BENIGNO AQUINO TRIANGLE?
Because I have first hand knowledge about this Filipino community project and a direct participant in the passage of a New York law naming a public triangle after a Filipino, let me help you in providing the significant historical origin of this New York park named in honor of the assassinated former Philippine senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. who died fighting for justice, freedom, and democracy.
First of all, the naming of the Triangle did not happen in 1986 because of an “NYC Council Resolution.” The Resolution allowed the construction of the concrete marker and not the naming of the lot after Aquino.
The Benigno Aquino Triangle is a product of a local law introduced by former Queens Councilman Sheldon Leffler and co-sponsored by fellow council members, namely Ward, Povman, Foster, Dibrienza, Crispino, Eisland, Greitzer, Messinger, Michels, O’Donovan and Wooten and passed by the New York City Council on September 23, 1986. Former Mayor Ed Koch approved and signed the Local Law 42 of 1986 known as the BENIGNO AQUINO TRIANGLE.
Prior to the passage of this law, in accordance to council rules and procedures, I, Gonzalo M. Policarpio, Jr. as the representative of the Filipino community and member of the Mayor’s Ethnic Advisory Council passed through a public hearing conducted by the Committee on Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs on September 5, 1986 to justify the legislation in honor of a Filipino martyr and answered questions from the media. On the side of the Philippine government, the late Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations, Salvador P. Lopez, testified before the Committee.
I also secured the approval of the Filipino Association in Hollis, Queens then headed by Jacinto Tiamsic , president and Procopio Carlay, vice president. Both Filipino leaders also submitted the approval of the Community Board who has jurisdiction over the area.
During the signing ceremony of the BENIGNO AQUINO TRIANGLE Law on October 9, 1986 by then Mayor Koch at the City Hall Blue Room, I invited Mr. Procopio Carlay to be in attendance as the representative of the Filipino Association in Hollis. Pictures of the signing ceremony as well as the unveiling ceremony of the public sign, Benigno Aquino Triangle that was attended by former Philippine Consul General Francisco “King” Rodrigo and local New York politicians were published by Filipino newspapers such as FILIPINO REPORTER and PHILIPPINE NEWS.
In a press release authored by former Councilman Sheldon Leffler, he stated that in February, 1986, he was approached by Gonzalo Policarpio Jr who is also an area resident, about the wishes of the city’s Filipino community to commemorate the memory of the late senator.
The emergence of the group BENIGNO AQUINO TRIANGLE FOUNDATION came much later when Filipino residents around the area where the sign stood decided to pool their resources and establish a permanent marker.
Mr. Carlos Caramanzana, an active resident in the area, called me to inform that a certain Dr. Concepcion Quiambao was interested in raising funds to construct a concrete marker in place of the steel post bearing the Aquino Triangle sign. I said OK.
For more than twenty years that the leadership of the Foundation has been hosting ceremonial events at the Triangle, I finally received the only invitation in 2008 from Ms. Lydia Bunag of FAHSI to join a religious mass to be held at the area. Luckily she was given the privilege to coordinate the events during that time and good for me.
I am doing this summary of events because of the silence about the Triangle’s real origin condoned by responsible Filipino media, responsible Philippine Consulate officials, and responsible Filipino leaders.
Here’s my question: Are they scared to antagonize a presumed “friend or relative of Cory Aquino” as the lady said if credit is given where credit is due? This has lingered for more than twenty years.
Enough of injustice, deception, greed, theft, and covetousness. These were not the reasons Ninoy Aquino died for. How can an honest human being enjoy a credit that does not belong to him or her for more than twenty years?
Gonzalo “Jun” Policarpio
Copy of Benigno Aquino Triangle Law
Copy of Councilman Sheldon Leffler’s Letter to President Corazon Aquino
Copies of newspaper clippings