I learned of Former President Cory Aquino‘s death on Saturday night. It was reported on Korean news. As they say, it was inevitable and we know that she’s going to die sooner or later but when it happened it still shocked the majority of us. Like almost everyone I know, we look up to “Tita Cory” not only as a woman but as a symbol of strength and an icon of democracy.
I used to just respect her as a President but when I got to know her life story through the various documentaries I’d seen through the years, I realized she was more than a housewife who became the Philippines’ first woman president. What she had gone through in her life and how she carried herself well, raising her children almost all by herself (since her husband was in prison for such a long time) and embracing the Filipinos as her children as well is astounding. Like Kris Aquino said, she is the embodiment of a Filipino mother.
What I remember most about her presidency are the coups. I used to live in a dormitory along Legarda St. in Manila during my last two years in high school and we were always scared by the mere rumors of a coup. I also remember with “fondness” the blackouts that occured during her administration. Ice creams were sold at half the usual price and we would sleep at the veranda when there was no electricity. Our neighbors did the same and during the summer vacations, the whole neighborhood would play bingo until daylight. Of course, I also remember that it was during her administration that we experienced a damaging earthquake (July 1990), the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo (June 1991) and the exodus of the Americans, which made a lot of Angelenos feel insecure about their future. Ah, we went through a lot during those days and I can just imagine how strong Cory was.
^^ at Roh Moo Hyun’s funeral
I’m currently watching a live stream (thanks to JustinTV and ANC) of the funeral mass of Tita Cory. I would probably attend her funeral procession just to pay my respects like I did for Former President Roh Moo Hyun last May. Like Tita Cory, Roh Moo Hyun’s color is yellow. Thus on his funeral march, people wore yellow paper hats and they carried yellow balloons, armbands and posters. People in the buildings threw yellow confetti wherever the carriage passed. The funeral ceremony were held in Gyeongbok Palace and ordinary people like moi watched it on the big screens at the buildings in Gwanghamun. People would boo and shout invectives whenever President Lee Myung Bak’s face was shown on screen.
When I read that Former President Kim Dae Jung sent condoloces to Cory’s family, I hurriedly searched for their connection. Tita Cory attended the former South Korean president’s inauguration in 1998. What a coincidence when I saw an article about the event that says: “This week, as luminaries from George Soros to Michael Jackson to Corazon Aquino descend on Seoul for his inauguration, Kim is doubtless aware that the real celebration will have to come later.” The former is still alive, of course.
We will surely miss Former President Corazon Aquino. I’ll miss most her simplicity, which is actually a mask for the kind of woman she was – strong, courageous, selfless and magnanimous. Goodbye Tita Cory!