Saturday, June 12, 2010


When Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is sworn in as the 15th President of the Republic at the end of the month, many of his relatives won’t be at the grandstand and instead will be following the proceedings from their homes in Virginia and Maryland.

“Our whole family was dedicated to helping Ninoy become president,” Katrina Aquino-Brickman admitted over a delicious filet mignon dinner she and husband David hosted for longtime college chum and our cousin, Marian Catedral-King last night.

“Ninoy” is of course the new president’s martyred father, shot as he was returning from the United States in August 1983.

Katrina was a cousin of Ninoy – her mother, early matinee star Lydia Montanez, married Medardo Aquino, who was a brother of Ninoy’s mother, Dona Aurora. Thus, the new president is her nephew.

Katrina and Marian (visiting from California to attend a relative’s wedding in Manassas, Virginia) were leaders of the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All movement at the University of the Philippines in Baguio City.

“When he was killed, we were all lost. We didn’t know what to do,” Katrina recounted. They vented their anguish in protests, reportedly mounting the first-ever campus demonstration over Ninoy’s assassination.

But her parents became so worried they “exiled” her to the US in 1984.

She later met and married businessman David Brickman, and they have two daughters – Ashley, 16, and Jordan, 12.

Ashley, is an aspiring figure skater. At 13, she represented the US at a youth competition in Morges, Switzerland. She is trying to work her way up to a slot in the US Winter Olympic team.

“We tried to put her in a swimming program, but she wanted skating,” Katrina explained, adding that Ashley was 4 years old at the time. And it appears, she’s never let her eyes off figure skating ever since.

With her green eyes, Katrina and Marian pursue a good-natured debate whether Ashley “looked Filipino enough”.

That’s because Ashley, at her mother’s suggestions, now wants to represent the Philippines in international figure skating competitions. She, they believed, would do proud to her family, the Philippines and perhaps because of the current circumstances, the Aquino name.

“You look Filipino,” Marian’s husband, Tony, assures the girl but only when Katrina is within ear-shot.

Katrina herself has some Russian blood – her grandmother was one a handful of “White Russians” who managed to escape the Bolshevik Revolution and settled in the Philippines.

Finally, after about two decades, Katrina is thinking about visiting the land of her birth again. She’s been out too long to have any intimate knowledge of Philippine politics today, but with another Aquino at the nation’s helm, her curiosity might be getting the best of her.

She has a sister and a brother in Virginia, and a cousin, also an Aquino, in Maryland.

Her dream for Ashley carrying the Philippine colors, we suspect, may be just a subconscious expression of her own yearning to reconnect with her estranged homeland.


  1. Marian Catedral-KingJuly 2, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    Cousin Bong - wonderful blog. I just have to mention two things: (1) Katrina's Russian bllod comes from her grandfather who left Russia and not her grandmotehr (2) When we were in UP Baguio, we mounted the first and largest ever most successful noise barrage in Baguio City with the help of other NGOs in 1983. I believe that record is still unbeatable to this day. I may be wrong. It's been so long since I gor involved in local politics there.

    With a talent like Ashley's she can proudly wear the Philippine colors unless regulations prevent her from doing so. Think of a Filipina top skater who has been trained by some of the best coaches in the US, who loves to skate and works hard at being one of the best skaters int he world. All these are courtesy of her parents financial capability. With a Filipina mother and another Filipina fairy godmother (that's me)she should be given a chance to wear the red, white and blue with the 3 yellow stars.

    It was great to see you and we should see each other more often. Visit us here in the bay area soon.

  2. she most likely did not make it in the US skating team that's why she is suddenly Filipino

  3. Ashley is Fil-Am, as there are Brazilin-nese, Brit-Noys etc.. /Filipino-Americans, Brazilian-Japanese, British-Pinoys.. /Embrace, appreciate, and VALUE the Best of BOTH cultures! ..maybe they are a unique, Special mix/blend. /No need to be bitter, inggit, or negative. /Peace :)

  4. Ashley is amazing, your just jealous she has an opportunity to represent a beautiful country where her family is so beloved.