Today marks the first death anniversary of the so-called “Icon of Democracy,” President Corazon C. Aquino or most fondly called “Tita Cory.” I remember so many things last year – the media frenzy when she was still at the hospital; the outpouring of prayers from all over the country for her healing and recovery and the round the clock news bulletins updating the Filipinos of her condition. I also remember that when she finally left us and joined our Creator, the wave of nostalgia, melancholy and yes, thanksgiving which swept the country was so overwhelming.
I was one of the hundreds of thousands who flocked to La Salle Greenhills and waited patiently for about four hours to pay my last respects to one great lady who thought highly of the Filipinos until the end. I remember Viel’s children, Kiko Dee and his sister, coming down from their vehicle to thank all of us who lined up along Ortigas Avenue and apologized that we have to wait for a couple of hours just to see a glimpse of their Lola (grandmother). I reflected that four hours is just too short a time compared to all the sacrifices made by Tita Cory for the country.
What was remarkable during that time was the discipline and patience demonstrated by the Filipinos while waiting in line. It certainly showed that, indeed, Filipinos can be disciplined if they want to. And so, it brings to mind, some of the last words that Tita Cory shared in one TV interview with Jessica Soho last September 3, 2008 :
“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 at maraming salamat sa lahat ng tulong na ibinigay niyo sa akin.” – Corazon C. Aquino (1933 – 2009)
When I first heard her statement, I couldn’t help but cry. Because here I am, losing hope in our country and our people. I really was so ashamed and embarrassed that I lost hope in our country and our people. Tita Cory saw so much potential in the Filipinos and she believed that we are a great people. She believed that in time, we will finally get to where we truly belong and realize our own place. And so, I keep her words as a mantra and a reminder that there is still hope in each of us and that we are still learning to be the best that we can be.
Thank you, Tita Cory, for believing in us.
Thank you for making me believe again.