Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This tribute to the late President Aquino was published in the Business Mirror on August 5,2009, which was also the day when she was laid to rest. The piece was in page C1.
Democracy allows people to determine their fate. Without democracy, a nation is reduced to acting out someone else’s script. And so history’s high points are marked by nations taking back from oppressors, be they foreign or domestic, what is rightfully theirs to author.
In 1986, the Filipino people, inspired and emboldened by the sincerity and courage of Corazon Aquino, took back the democracy that was taken away from them in 1972. Armed only with their faith and a firm belief in their capability to decide their own future, they faced down tanks.
Their valor and audacity proved that Mao’s famous adage on power was just another lie foisted by oppressors. Edsa established, once and for all, that power comes not from the barrel of a gun but from the hearts of the people.
Corazon Aquino understood power. From day one of her presidency, she knew that the power she held was not her personal property nor was it for her personal gain; she only held it in trust for her people. And she never betrayed that trust. That’s why years after she left Malacañang, Corazon Aquino continued to be loved, trusted, and heeded by the nation.
They never doubted her commitment to liberty and democracy. Whenever she took leave of her retirement to warn the people of threats to their freedom, they listened. And they went to the barricades.
In her farewell to the Filipino people, she said, “But while my power as president ends in 1992, my responsibility as a Filipino for the well-being of my country goes beyond it to my grave.”
Corazon Aquino did not shirk from that responsibility. She continued to serve her people even as she battled cancer. And when she became too weak to join mass actions, nakibaka siya through prayer. Kris Aquino recounted that her mother, on her deathbed, continued to pray for the well-being of her people.
Before she passed away, Corazon Aquino forgave her political enemies and she asked for their forgiveness. She held no rancor. Cumplida, she was a lady to the end.
Today, President Corazon Aquino will be laid to rest. She served her people selflessly and to the best of her abilities. A true servant leader, she showed us where the path to greatness lies. We cannot ask for more.
Rest in peace, beloved president. You have shown us the way. We’re going to be okay.