By Dona Pazzibugan, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—One by one, friends, family members, employees of former President Corazon Aquino paid tribute to her through anecdotes, painting a picture of a woman who eschewed the trappings and temptations of her office and who was steadfast in her faith and service to the people.
During the three-hour necrological service at Manila Cathedral Tuesday, 19 people gave their heartfelt tributes, most of them ending up sobbing along with the audience.
Ms Aquino’s four daughters especially the youngest, Kris, openly cried upon hearing the tributes. Her only son Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was able to hold back from sobbing.
The senator spoke last, summarizing previous speakers’ testimonials.
He recounted how his mother insisted on going to Fort Bonifacio during the Marines standoff in February 2006, at the height of the protests against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over allegations that she cheated during the 2004 elections.
The senator said he was opposed to the idea of his mother joining the chaos in Fort Bonifacio, where tanks and heavily armed soldiers were on standby.
But his mother won in the end. Noynoy recalled her saying: “It is my obligation to go there. It is my obligation to prevent bloodshed.”
When he and the former President arrived near the gates of the military camp, they found the people agitated.
“When she arrived, she took out her rosary and started praying. The people calmed down,” the senator said.
He told the crowd at the cathedral that he chose this story because it encapsulated everything about his mother.
“This was the loving Cory, who’s ready to do what is right despite the consequences and who has full faith in God. She believed in doing whatever we can and letting God do the rest,” Noynoy said in Filipino.
Swipe at political mess
The senator took a swipe at the political situation, saying there seemed to be no change in the country. The former President had been a vocal critic of Ms Arroyo.
“When I see the state this country is in—there are people who follow the law, who strive to study to be better, who are true to their fellowmen and are still asking ‘Why are we still in need?’ It hurts,” Noynoy said.
“There are those who fought before us. But we are still here, fighting,” he added.
On behalf of his family, Noynoy thanked the people who gathered in the streets to bid her mother farewell when her casket was transferred on Monday to the cathedral from the La Salle Green Hills stadium in Mandaluyong City.
He apologized to those who were waiting for hours to get a glimpse of the former President’s remains.
The senator said he was struck by how children, who did not see the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution and her mother’s presidency, expressed gratitude to his late mother.
“These were elementary children. They said ‘Thank You, Tita Cory,’” he said. This is proof that there is still “hope” for the country, according to Aquino’s only son.
Fought good fight
At the end of his speech, the senator said of his mother: “I really truly believed without an iota of doubt that you fought the good fight, finished the course, and undoubtedly kept the faith.”
Former employees and friends of the late President said they were struck by her humility and simplicity, even while she was the leader of the country.
Cory Aquino will forever remain in the hearts and minds of every filipino for the restoring back democracy in the Philippines.