August 5, 2009
Five days of "Cory 101"
I was about to post some nice (and happy)-looking photos in Facebook the morning of Saturday when greeted by the very sad news about President Cory's passing. I admit I still had to let it sink in for a while - Cory is gone. Though the worst had been expected since terrible news began leaking out from her latest hospitalization, one cannot really prepare completely for such a moment. I had to postpone the posting of the photos.
If you are wondering where the profound grief is coming from, then I conclude that either (1) you were not around in the 1980s, (2) you were but were simply a disinterested person (3) you have not been reading your history, or (4) you have been locking yourself up inside your media-less room the last five days, or in times you were out, have been walking with ears plugged and head stooped, your eyes oblivious to the yellowed environs. The last five days saw the most comprehensive (and free) lecture series about President Cory (and the ideals she stood for) and you just missed it.
I remember exactly a week ago when a neighbor approached and asked while we (my family) were wheeling into our garage, what's with the yellow ribbons (tied to your gate and car)? We greeted him with a smile while my wife responded, it's for Cory. We did not seriously put malice on (the innocence of) his query. I just thought then, it won't be long, you will know why.
I myself would want to know more, why.
I am not a super avid fan of Cory Aquino for me to be a good source of discourse that can fully qualify the anguish of her passing and justify the adoration and honor bestowed on her. Well, I know her to be the first sitting president I saw in person. I will never forget the image of her visiting the wake of another equally consummate freedom-fighter Lean Alejandro whom I also adore but who was murdered in 1987. That image conveyed to me a lot about the sincerity of the once "grieving widow" who was now the leader of the country.
That must be the closest window I have had to knowing Cory's persona. The rest I happened to know only as it had been demonstrated in the way she courageously took up the challenge to lead the campaign against Marcos in 1985-86 and in her precarious but unwavering 6-year leadership of a country which was trying to recover from the ravages of dictatorship while continuously being besieged by extremists.
I have to admit too that I was among those who ended their romance with Cory's administration early: The unsolved double-murder of labor leader Ka Lando Olalia and Leonor Alay-ay right in the first year of Cory's reign; the massacre of farmers at Mendiola in January 1987 and its associated issue of the watered-down agrarian reform program; the retention of the American military bases; Lean's murder and the seeming baby treatment of military right-wingers. I was far less liberal; the disillusionment was overwhelming. [But I did advocate a critical YES to the 1987 Constitution; if only to show I was still hoping against hope].
Yet I was among the "early grievers" who began feeling the pain of the prospect of losing a leader whose virtues we sorely miss in these dire times, when news about her ailment came out. Yet I am among those deeply saddened by her eventual demise.
I was sure there were more things about Cory that I only knew of subconsciously which somehow made me mourn affectingly her loss. And I can only thank those who helped me confirm these through their personal testimonies given throughout the last five days - from the day she died; through her wake at La Salle and the Manila Cathedral; until her interment just a few moments ago - and broadcasted via the different media.
Yes, Cory's selflessness, her unwavering faith and purity of heart [Arevalo, 2009]. Virtues that served as the very foundation of her legacy of freedom and democracy to us Filipinos; a legacy now constantly being threatened by the continuing degradation of the very same virtues that founded it.
I can only thank Cory's family, colleagues, friends (and even foes) for sharing to us who really Cory was. The last five days was a much needed refresher, an enlightenment most wanted. I am sure our neighbor knows a lot better now. The people know a lot better now.
"We give her back to You, with grateful but breaking hearts" by Catalino Arevalo, SJ [video version here]
Cory Aquino and our Magical Democracy by Sheila Coronel
The Cory I Know by Paulynn P. Sicam
Presidentita vs the Brat Pack by Malou Mangahas
Who President Cory was to this martial-law baby by Veronica Uy
One Good Person by Conrado de Quiros
Our better selves - EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT by Jessica Zafra
Teddy Locsin's Eulogy for President Cory Aquino
The Day They Buried Cory Aquino by Virginia M. Moncrieff
Beyond Aquino's contradictory legacies by Herbert Docena
Celebrate what Cory truly represents by Emmanuel M. Hizon