Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Salamat, Tita Cory

Maria Corazon "
Cory" Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino
January 25, 1933 - August 1, 2009
"Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things - with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope."
(Image from

Today is a national day of mourning for the passing away of a Philippine gem, former president Cory Aquino. Today she was laid to rest beside her one and only love, former senator and Filipino hero, Ninoy Aquino at the Manila Memorial Cemetery.

I am very humbled to be a part of this great moment in Philippine history.

My dad, who served in the Philippine Air Force during the Marcos regime and the Aquino administration, was part of the struggle during the Martial Law and the challenge to keep democracy attained after EDSA Revolution. He fought during the bloodiest coup d'etat in 1989 and experienced firsthand the battle for freedom. Years later, he remembers the important role former president Aquino played during the People Power.

"A day before December 1, 1989, at the height of the bloodiest coup d’etat. I brought the helicopter to Lucena because we had information na 'papasukin ang Sangley'. I was the only one able to bolt out of the base the day before, hence I was the only one called by the Chief of Staff to support them in Camp Aguinaldo at all costs. While supporting the friendly government troops, three F5 fighter planes from Basa Air Base supported the friendly forces in Sangley Point that cost the life of Major Danilo Atienza after disabling the tora-tora used by rebel soldiers. We were hit by enemy groundfire, luckily it hit the side of the armor plate, which was an inch away from the co-pilot.

Due to our wholehearted and unfailing support for President Corazon Aquino, our commander-in-chief, even with bullet holes from our main and tail rotor, we managed to fly the helicopter to give support to the government troops. We stayed overnight at Basa for it was the only safe place to stay then. On the wee hours of the following day, we supported again the friendly troops in Camp Aguinaldo firing the 2.75 rockets successively. That historic event ultimately contributed to the defeat and fall of the rebel forces, and there, frustrating again an attempt. For conspicuous gallantry acts of heroism and exemplary demonstration of utmost loyalty as combat pilot above and beyond the call of duty to preserve our democracy that led to the fall of the rebel soldiers, we were given the second highest award, the Distinguished Conduct Star."

Today, he and I went to Roxas Boulevard to await the funeral cortege of the late president Cory Aquino to pay our respects for all the sacrifices that she has made for us, for the the Filipino people.

Her story, for me, is that of a modern-day Esther. God had big plans for Cory that no one could even begin to imagine. When Cory's husband, Ninoy, was assassinated because of the ideals he stood for during a chaotic time in our history, the simple yet outstanding housewife became president of the Republic of the Philippines. I believe that it was destined to be so in God's plan. Ninoy and Cory's life is a beautiful story of unconditional love, enduring longsuffering, and brilliant heroism.

I wish to share so much more but words escape me that is why I decided to express myself with the pictures I took during today's emotional funeral for the late former president.

Hover on photos for captions. Click pictures for a larger resolution.

The entire time we waited for the funeral march, we were listening to the radio in order to know what was happening during the funeral mass at the Manila Cathedral. When Cory's youngest daughter, Kris, gave her speech - I tried to hold back my tears. So did my father. We were both sitting in the car quietly lost in our own thoughts.

The event today was a real awakening of history sleeping in the pages of millions of books. This is the authentic History 101. Memories of singing "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" during my second grade Social Sciences class came into mind with much greater relevance. So this is what it was like. I now understand the importance of history. His story, her story, our story. It is still alive and flowing in my veins.

After hours of waiting, I finally had the chance to see the former president's casket and pay respect to this great woman of prayer and democracy.

Cory Aquino loved the Filipinos dearly up to the very end even after leaving the seat of presidency. Now it's our turn to show her and her family how much we love her in return.

My Sony Cybershot camera ran out of battery after taking the photo below, hence I used my Nokia phone to take the rest of the pictures.

According to the news, Cory's funeral was very similar to the funeral of Ninoy. Once again, thousands of people gathered as one family... this time to mourn the loss of such a great Filipina. Being a part of this lamentation as one with the nation is something I can share with my future children and grandchildren (God-willing). I promise myself this day that I will do my best to strive for the ideals that the Aquino couple stood for, fought for, and died for.

"True people power is prayer power." Indeed.

Maraming, maraming salamat po, Tita Cory.
You will live on forever in our hearts.
Hanggang sa muli...

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