Cory Aquino was the mother of my country.
We were born into the 1986 People Power Revolution, but it was not our movement. We were infants back then, far too young to understand what it meant for Marcos to go, and for Cory to succeed. Like a doting mother, Cory took to the task of healing wounds, along with the demands and rigors of the Presidency.
She was a most reluctant President, when she assumed the stewardship of this nation. She may have been the scion of sugar barons, but she did not have the background we expect from our Presidents. Cory was a housewife, the widow of a political icon. She did not have much to give us in the way of treaties and statistics and projects that bear her name, but she gave us the inspiration and hope we needed after the fall of Marcos. She was our guide and our light in the darkness that followed the fall of a dictator.
She did things many of us did not agree with. Her name is forever tied to things like show business, landlords, coups, and the barrels of guns at Mendiola. Many people will remember Cory’s Philippines as one plagued with military insurrections, Communist rebellion, the high prices of goods, brownouts, and just about every inconvenience to modern living. Many commentators have made tracts and papers of what Cory should have done, but the fact remains that things turned out the way they are today in great part due to the decisions Cory made, and didn’t make at all.
Should we critique? Should we oppose? Of course, we should. The woman lying in the wooden casket in La Salle-Greenhills is not a saint or a goddess or a heroine, but a class act of a citizen, and a President. In a nation where the most basic acts of citizenship become heroic, and in a nation in need of a President worthy of its people’s appoval, the least we could do is to pay our respects.
Cory was many things to many people. She was a President, an icon of democracy, a symbol of People Power. Yet thanks to a Constitution drafted and put in effect under her term, Corazon Aquino was the mother of her nation. We were Cory’s children. She was our steward, the woman who made it possible for us to desire hope and change, if not for the things she started, and if not for the things she had done. She was our Tita Cory in more ways than one.
During Cory’s time, we were children. We were much too young, and too immature to realize and recognize the impact of Cory to our own country. She was just the woman on the wall, clad in yellow, watching over us. She was the name on the last few pages of our textbooks, as we learned our lessons in civics and culture. We grew up to what remained of the projects and programs she started, and what remained of her legacy. We grew up to her dream, with photographed memories of EDSA 1986 guiding us on to what should be, and what we should never experience again.
We were the generation much too young for memories of Martial Law, the generation much too young to remember anything of “Cory Magic.” Yet in many ways, we benefited from Cory’s decisions and sacrifices the most. Through history books, and through stories exchanged over the years, we can only hope that when the time comes that our democracy and our ideals are challenged, we can step up in the same way Cory did 23 years ago.
At 2 AM today, we made our way to La Salle-Greenhills to pay our respects to President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. As I approached the casket, I mouthed a few seconds of silent prayer to the woman who was the mother of my nation. I left, knowing that those few silent whispers of thanks are the best eulogy I, an ordinary citizen, could possibly give her.
We grieve and mourn today because we lost our former President, our former leader, our inspiration, our mother. Yet it all will pass, and the days will go on. Inspiration, like hope and the memory of a mother, never dies.
Sana’y di magmaliw ang dati kong araw
Nang munti pang bata, sa piling ni Nanay
Nais kong maulit ang awit ni inang mahal
Awit ng pag-ibig hang ako’y nasa duyan.
– Levi Celerio & Lucio San Pedro
“Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”