Sta. Ana is the Coordinator of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the August 03, 2009 edition of the BusinessWorld, pages S1/4 and S1/5.
The paeans to President, our President, Corazon Aquino are endless. She is the global icon of democracy. She is “our eternal flame.” She is a hero, a historic figure. She is now at home with the immortals. Etcetera.
The pages of national papers will not be able to capture the millions of kind thoughts, messages of sympathy, and affectionate tributes for our President.
Thanks to Facebook (FB), we get a glimpse of those thoughts and feelings that would neither be aired in the broadcast media nor see print in the dailies. FB Philippines is now filled with Cory’s symbols. It’s a sea of yellow. Many have placed yellow ribbons on their FB walls or profiles.
The burst of Cory fever is not limited to FB and other networking sites. All over the internet, there’s something about Cory. I have monitored for the past two days Yahoo’s popular searches. Corazon Aquino tops the list of searches, followed by X Games and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Of course, the middle class and the intelligentsia mainly inhabit FB and the Web; thus, they are not a sample of the common Pinoys. Yet, the intelligentsia articulates the public sentiment at the same time that it molds public opinion.
Allow me then to quote what FB friends (and friends of friends) have candidly expressed in memory of Cory. It is impossible to quote everyone, and I thus choose those voices that best represent not only the common views but also the varying perspectives.
Fides Lim: “Joins the worldwideweb in tying a yellow ribbon ’round her FB page in tribute to a fine lady…She’s comin’ home, she’s done her time.”
Boyette San Diego: “Gabay at inspirasyon sa harap ng pangamba.”
Amber Pantoja-Punongbayan: “Seeing how many people love Cory makes me realize that it is the goodness of one’s heart that counts the most. You might be excellent in economics, determined and powerful, but when you are selfish and unkind, no one will love you, other than those who are like you.”
Jun Verzola: “She helped reshape the nation during a most critical period in our country’s history. Hers was a presidency with triple significance for the Filipino people: The first presidency after the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos; our first woman president; and the first one to be installed not by election (she would have won the vote but Marcos cheated all the way) but by people power.”
Ferdie Llanes: “Cory Aquino’s personal decision to run against Marcos in 1985 was the key moment that built a hegemonic bloc to end fascist tyranny and changed the course of Philippine history. Sees no need to make qualifications about personal, class or political limitations; the nation moved as one critical mass with Cory Aquino….There were only three such circumstances in our history: the 1896-1898 revolution, the anti-Japanese war of liberation, and EDSA.”
Teddy Arellano: “Like us, she’s not perfect, but she was honest and decent, qualities we don’t find in our current leaders. And most of all she had the courage to fight for us.”
Joel Saracho: “Once upon a time, there was a decent woman who became President. Perhaps she didn’t change anything, trapped in Philippine realpolitik as she was. But guess what? She remained decent till the end.”
Joy Chavez: “She could have done more when she was president, that’s true, and there were things she did then that we didn’t agree to, and opportunities that went to waste. But she’s more than proven her statesmanship, moral leadership and courage.”
Aida F. Santos: “Despite sins of omission during her term as president, I still admire Cory Aquino for the moral stance she took during her term. We may politically disagree with her as an official on certain issues, but on the personal level she exemplified an official of the land who wasn’t corrupt and had strong moral values.”
Gus Gatmaytan: “Mawalang galang na lang po, I appreciate her later activism, but Aquino tried to keep Hacienda Luisita; disemboweled the national parks system; unleashed military operations that affected indigenous peoples (doesn’t anyone remember Marag Valley? Operation Skylark?).
Juland R. Suazo: Concurs with his anonymous FB friend who said: “May you find peace, former President. But please do not paint a too rosy picture of her to a point of declaring her a saint. She had lapses too. Remember also the victims of Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita”
Bong Mendoza: “Given the choice between flawed democracy and Marcosian rule, my preference is clear.”
Ben Moncerate: “Recalls having basked in the euphoria of people power in high school and then campaigning in college against what we called the US-Aquino regime; now pays respects to Cory for her role in kicking out Marcos and staving off military adventurists in her time.”
Boy Martin: “Anuman ang sabihin, anuman ang naging mga pangyayari sa panahon ng kanyang panunungkulan, hindi matatawaran ang naging ambag ni Cory upang mapunambalik ang demokrasya sa ating bansa.”
Louie Cheng: “Cory Aquino had a perfect sense of timing. She lingered in her deathbed for days and finally let go while her opposite [Gloria Arroyo or GMA] is [still] in the US. Her passing away will be the focus of the international media particularly in the US where she is popular and will overshadow the attempt of the usurper to grab attention and propagate her lies. Cory Aquino may have left us but her spirit will live on long after the puny president of ill repute has become dust herself.”
Vikky Bondoc-Cabrera: “Such a pity that GMA will have to endure the endless comparisons between her and Cory. She and her minions better be careful with their statements in the coming days and weeks.”
Margarita Lopa Perez: “You will continue to live on in our hearts and in our minds. Tuloy ang Laban!”
Evelyn Bosch: “Our country has lost a fantastic and courageous woman. I hope her passing will be the catalyst that will unite this country again.”
And let me end by quoting several statements from Cory Aquino, said in different periods of her public life. By doing so, we can better understand and put into context the difficulties she faced in leading a triumphant yet tumultuous struggle for the restoration of democracy.
From an interview in December 1985: “What on earth do I know about being president?”
From an interview done by Sheila Coronel in 2006: Cory would like to be remembered simply as “somebody who really tried to do her best.”
Finally, Cory once said: “I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.”
Cory not only had a meaningful death. She lived a meaningful life, inspiring and uniting the whole people in what has become a global historic watershed in the fight for democracy. Her story—the pain and tragedy of losing a husband murdered by the dictatorship, the trials and triumphs in defeating Marcos and safeguarding democracy, her courage and heroism, her simplicity and decency, her doggedness, her religiosity, her concern for the common people—will be retold “to our children’s children’s children.”