Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mourning for Something More

“Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat at lalong-lalo na sa Panginoong Diyos, na ginawa niya akong isang Pilipino. Talagang karangalan ko iyon, na maging katulad niyo…" – Corazon C. Aquino (1933 – 2009)**

Tita Cory gave me a long-stemmed yellow rose way back in 1986 when she was on that historic presidential campaign trail. Those were the heady days of yellow Fridays, and the subversive Mr. & Ms. magazine.

Those early days, I didn’t know much about politics—but I recognized then, in human form, abstract words like hope, faith, justice—and consequently, other abstract words like despair and injustice. Tita Cory embodied the former—until the day she died.

I feel like I am in a strange time warp as I commute the past few days and see yellow ribbons tied in buses, jeepneys and fluttering from many a lamp post and tree branch. The TV images of confetti-filled skies in Makati and the truck carrying the flag-draped coffin and surrounded with yellow blossoms—all brought back the memories of 1983 and the death of Tita Cory’s husband Ninoy.

The memories are bittersweet—gone now are two iconic figures of Philippine democracy. As the nation goes into mourning, I wonder---are we just mourning for Tita Cory’s passing or are we mourning for something more?

Tita Cory was not just an icon of democracy---but an icon of virtues tragically lacking in the Philippine political landscape: decency, simplicity, integrity, humility, and patriotism. Even the staunchest anti-Cory person can never accuse her of corruption. That she made mistakes during her presidency nobody argues against. But who doesn’t make mistakes? At least with Tita Cory, she did it with the interest of the nation at heart.

Her passing means we have lost something very rare but hopefully, in view of God’s compassion for this suffering land, not irreplaceable.

**"I give thanks to all of you, and most especially to the Lord for making me a Filipino. This is truly an honor for me—to be like all of you…"