A former speechwriter of the late Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III remembered the story of his store visit and the lessons he learned from the late president in a tribute.
Aquino, the country’s 15th president, passed away on Thursday morning, June 24. He was 61 years old.
Ali Sangalang, who is also the co-founder and creative director of clothing brand Linya-Linya and host of podcast “The Linya-Linya Show,” posted this tribute on Instagram that day.
Sangalang worked with Aquino as a speechwriter under the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office from 2010 to 2016.
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From ‘state visit’ to ‘store visit’
In his tribute, he recalled the time Aquino made a surprise visit to their shop in Trinoma in Quezon City when they were just starting their then small business.
“Nagsisimula pa lang kami nu’n bilang maliit na kompanya, nang minsan kayong bumisita sa shop ng Linya-Linya sa Trinoma. Biglaan, kaya napasugod din ako agad (ibang brand pa tuloy ng shirt ang nasuot ko),” Sangalang wrote.
“Hirit ko sa inyo, from ‘State Visit’ noon, naging ‘Store Visit’ na ngayon. Natawa naman kayo. Gumagana pala talaga ang ‘Tito Jokes’ ko,” he added.
From then on, Sangalang recounted how Aquino supported his business by asking for other designs and sizes as gifts for friends.
The former speechwriter also shared that he got the chance to send him a letter and t-shirts when the former chief executive was still alive last February.
Another revered memory with Aquino Sangalang cited was the former president’s special mention of his shop in a speech at the DBS Asia Leadership Dialogue in Singapore after his term.
He quoted the late president’s speech when his small business was cited:
“One of my staff went to open a retail shop to make shirts; they opened multiple shops in a month. The dream is that you can make something that you will be happy about.”
Sangalang shared that these words moved him and the rest of the staff of Linya-Linya.
“Ewan ko, pero nun pa lang, halos maiyak na rin ako, walang mapaglagyan ang tuwa, dahil napakalaking bagay nu’n sa akin (at sa aming lahat sa Linya-Linya)—ang makakuha ng tiwala, suporta, at pagkilala bilang nagsisimula pa lang at nag-iipon ng kumpiyansa mula sa inyo,” he said.
In an interview with Interaksyon, Sangalang also shared that back when he was working with Aquino, he learned the importance of good leadership. He shared that this is his favorite lesson among the countless experiences and learnings he gained from his boss then.
“May mararating ang pagiging mabuti. May patutunguhan ang mabuting pamamahala. ‘Wag sana tayong maniwalang ang tanging paraan lang para mapausad at maiangat ang Pilipinas ay sa mga paraang malupit, marahas, at masama,” Sangalang said.
“Kailangan nating magtiwala sa ating mga sarili at mag-invest sa mga Pilipino. Mas malakas pa rin ang ‘tayo,’ kaysa ‘kanya-kanya. Sabi nga ni PNoy, ‘the Filipino is worth fighting for,’” he added.
In his farewell message to Aquino, Sangalang thanked the former president for the values and experiences he learned from him which he carried even in running the shop.
“Hanggang sa muli, Sir. Sa susunod na pagkikita, hindi ko kalilimutang magbitbit ulit ng jokes, at syempre, ng t-shirt,” he said.
Aside from Sangalang, Gian Lao and Tina del Rosario, who were members of the Speechwriters Group of Aquino, likewise wrote their heartfelt tribute on ANCX and CNN Philippines, respectively, where they similarly recounted lessons and experiences with the former chief executive.
Aquino’s remains have been cremated on Thursday. His urn has arrived at the Church of Gesu inside the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City for a one-day public viewing. He would be laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.