Lo Siento, Corazon

Updated August 1, 2009: I wrote this piece a little over a month ago, when Cory Aquino was confined at the hospital for cancer treatment.  Just this morning, the former President of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino, died at the age of 76.

For the past few hours, I tried to write a fitting tribute to President Aquino, but I keep missing the point, unable to write a eulogy for the former President.  Then again, I figure that this entry could be the sobering eulogy that I was trying to write in the first place.  I bring you this apology to Cory Aquino, and I dedicate it to her memory.  – Marocharim

The year was 1985.  My parents tell me my name took after Ferdinand Marcos.  In the Solid North, “Apo” loomed like a monumental presence, both metaphorically and literally.  There was the veneration passed on to the Ilocano President, and there were the statues and highways named after him.  Not to mention the children named after Lakay Marcos.

It was a name with its own sense of irony.  Marcos was going to fall at that time, and that little frail-looking housewife with an iron will – Corazon Aquino – was going to be President.

I was born and raised in a time other than Cory’s.

Years after the 1986 People Power movement, the inspiring woman became a source of derision for many, not just for Marcos’ old supporters, loyalists, and admirers.  Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of political science and public administration would have made – and did make – a laundry list of everything wrong with Cory’s Presidency.  “Buti pa noong panahon ni Marcos,” my elders would lament, and start telling stories of the “good old days.”  Somehow, Cory became relegated to the backdrop; despised, denied, derided.  Cory took the blame for everything from military coups, the permanent crisis for honoring all our debts, brownouts, and a new take on the aristocracy.

Years later, I took to the vacant classrooms of the university, and taught schoolmates what I knew from the books, and tackled Cory’s history with contempt.  Cory wasn’t the “frail housewife in yellow” as much as she became the figurehead for massacres in Mendiola.  Cory wasn’t a “simple woman,” as much as she was the scion of the sugar lords in Tarlac.  The “educational discussion” turned into oratory dripping with disdain for the darling of the world in 1986.  Had there been no Ninoy, there would not have been a Cory.  Had there been no Salvador Laurel, there would not have been a Cory.  The same denial that came with Marcos was accorded to Cory – at least in the discussions of my heyday – where the name “Cory” was just like any other four-letter word.

I deliberately and purposefully forgot the 1987 Constitution.  I deliberately and purposefully forgot that it was during her term that the US military bases were booted out of sovereign territory.  I deliberately and purposefully forgot that Cory Aquino was the face, the image, and the presence behind the spirit of EDSA.

I’ve had time to reflect and to think about that, and I figured that the only reason why I could freely bash and lambaste the former President back then was that I never really got to experience the situation she was in.  The worst part of being that outsider was the arrogant comfort of second-hand knowledge.  At the time when Cory was President, I was playing with blocks and watching anthropomorphic trains on TV.  When her Presidency ended, I was all but seven years old, perfecting my ABC’s and 123’s.  Armchair commentary or the homily from the pew took place years later, and never in the position Cory was in some two decades ago: the ability to take Corazon Aquino’s milestone, her achievement that none of us will probably equal in our lifetime, for granted.

The year is 2009.  Here I am, 24 years older, 24 years wiser.  I write this as a fitting apology, perhaps, to former President Corazon Aquino, who is on the road to recovery from cancer.  While there will be things that I’ll definitely disagree with, it is, was, and forever will be from the sight of a bystander.  At the very least, an entire generation – mine – owes Tita Cory the biggest debt of gratitude of all.

Lo siento, Corazon.

* – Photo courtesy of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

9 thoughts on “Lo Siento, Corazon

  1. 1. pero talagang pakana ba lamang ni cory ang konstitusyong 1987? siguro, mas akma kung sabihin nating ang pagkaroon ng mga makabayan at makataong probisyon sa konstitusyon ay di dahil kay cory. ito ay bunga ng naging lakas ng pagkilos ng taumbayan noon.

    2. sa termino nga ni cory napaalis ang base militar ng mga kano. ngunit ano ang naging posisyon ni cory sa panawagan ng progresibong kilusan, mga kaalyado, at taong bayan laban dun? si cory mismo ang nakipagnegosasyon sa estados unidos upang maextend ang lease nila para sa base militar.

    3. si cory nga ba ang mukha, imahe, at diwa ng edsa? tanongin mo ang libo-libong pinaslang at minasaker ng kanyang total war laban sa mga organisasyong masa. tanongin mo ang mga naging biktima ng pulitikal na pagpaslang, pagdukot, at iba pang mga abuso ng karapatang pantao sa ilalim ng kanyang rehimen.

    mismo ang mga neoliberal na polisyiang pangekonomiya at mga pulitikal na patakarang makadayuhan na umiiral sa kasulukuyang rehimen ay maugat natin sa mga nangyaring pakikipagusap (na wala nang pinagkaiba sa paglimos) ni cory sa mga kano noon.

    oo, puriin natin si cory. may mga naging kontribusyon siya sa pakikibaka laban sa diktaduryang eu-marcos at sa kasulukuyang rehimen. ngunit di po tama na turingin natin siya bilang santos.

    kung meron mang dapat bigyang pasasalamat para sa mga espasyong demokratiko ngayon, iyon ang taumbayan na nagkaisa at kumilos upang mapatalsik ang berdugo at gahamang diktaduryang marcos.

  2. ^

    Sa akda, hindi ko itinuturing ang dating Pangulo bilang isang santo. Naniniwala ako na marami ngang pagkakamali ang administrasyong Aquino sa mga magsasaka, sa mga organisasyong masa, at ang kanyang mga neoliberal na polisiya ay mismo na ring di nakakabuti sa kalagayan ng taumbayan sa kanyang termino, at sa mga terminong nagpatuloy ng mga polisiyang ito.

    Bagamat sumasang-ayon ako sa 3 punto sa itaas, naniniwala ako na hindi natin maikukubli sa kritisismo at kritikal na pagsusuri, makatotohanan man ito o huwad, ang respeto at paggalang na nararapat nating ibigay kay dating Pangulong Aquino.

    Ang kanyang pagpanaw ay hindi panahon para ibato at ipamukha sa kanya ang kanyang mga pagkukulang bilang Pangulo, sapagkat di na niya masasagot ang mga katanungan at kritisismong ito. Hayaan na natin na sa saglit na panahon ng pagluluksa na ito ay makiramay tayo sa pagpanaw na isang ginang na, sa kabila ng pagkukulang at pagkakamali, ay tumayo bilang Pangulo ng ating bansa.

    Salamat,

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