The Photographer Who Captured Ninoy Aquino's Assassination Is Now Fighting For His Life

He captured one of the most historic photos in Philippine history.
IMAGE Joey Alvero

It was a single photo, captured in the midst of fear and chaos. A shot that has perhaps defined one of the most pivotal moments of the country’s history—the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino. It was the photo that defined the career of Recto Mercene.  

Photo by Joey Alvero.

It’s surprising to think that the award-winning photojournalist never quite stopped working since that fateful day, as he now works as a reporter for Business Mirror. Except that a recent accident currently has him sidelined. From braving bullets at the tarmac during Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, Mercene is now fighting another battle. 

In a post last September 17, Jam Kontenko, a friend of Mercene’s daughter Danica, wrote to the world to ask for help. Mercene had suffered a fall that caused him to be admitted to the emergency room in Muntinlupa’s Asian Hospital. His daughter’s recent interview with ABS-CBN revealed that he is stable, although frail. 


According to the post: “They found a hemorrhage in his brain and is experiencing on-and-off fever, implying infection. COVID-19 has so far been ruled out after two negative PCR tests.” Mercene has a history of asthma and diabetes. He’s also had a heart bypass as well as brain surgery. 

As the veteran photojournalist does not have insurance, it makes the situation all the heavier especially in the context of the current pandemic. The tests and possible procedures that Mercene would have to face just to get a diagnosis are currently stacking up. The medical bills are closing in on P1 million as of recent updates. 

The hope is that he gets well as soon as possible without putting a heavy financial burden on the family. Mercene’s daughter said: "Baka 'di namin maabot 'yung naka-set na cost na nakalagay so far... Kung sakaling they can spare any monetary donations for the bill, tsaka siyempre... prayers for him. We are just hoping for a good outcome.” 

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Photo by Joey Alvero.

The Mercene family is asking the public for any financial contribution to help ease their situation. “Donations would exclusively be used to pay for his medical bills that include numerous and expensive tests, medications, and the cost of his hospital stay,” said Kontenko in the post. “It will also partially compensate for the loss of his income while he is confined and recuperating.”

Kontenko’s post also includes different bank details for those who would like to help, as well as a link on Gava. To help the photojournalist, click here to donate. 

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