Our Cory

I was barely four years old when the Filipino people proved that we are no nation of cowards. I have no memory of the EDSA Revolution as it was unfolding. All that I could remember is that when I was six years old, my mother would buy me a yellow dress for the schoolyear’s closing exercises. I walked down the street, past neighbours who were calling me Cory, in that yellow dress, in yellow socks, with  a yellow turban and a yellow shoulder bag.
As a young girl, I basked in the pride of being called Cory.

Corazon Aquino is a hero, I thought. She is great. I wanted to be like Cory.      

“Less than 24 hours after Marcos had had himself inaugurated, he was being helped off a plane in Hawaii, sickly, exiled and bewildered. His former home, Malacanang Palace, was now a melancholy tableau of abandoned power, overrun by thousands of revelers. The new leader of the Philippines was the reserved housewife who had worn plain yellow dresses every day of her campaign. For her determination and courage in leading a democratic revolution that captured the world’s imagination, Corazon Aquino is TIME’s Woman of the Year for 1986.”

“It soon became obvious that the only person far enough above the political differences to unite the opposition was the martyr’s widow. She was also, by no coincidence, the only one who did not seek the role. ‘I know my limitations,’ she said three months after the murder, ‘and I don’t like politics. I was only involved because of my husband.’”  

“The absoluteness of that belief gives Aquino a firmness that can turn into stubbornness. Indeed, her very real sense that she is an instrument of God’s will prompts friends and relatives to refer to her career, again and again, as a ‘mission.’ Says her mother-in-law and confidante, Dona Aurora Aquino: ‘I think this is a mission for her, to put her country in shape. Then she can retire. Ninoy’s assassination was his fate. The presidency is hers.’ Cory often says the same thing.”

There had been questions in my head. Like why woud there be six coup attempts in her administration? SIx is just too many. Was Cory too gentle on rebel soldiers? Did they get the punishment they deserved? What of Hacienda Luisita?

And yet my admiration for Cory intensifies as I read the papers telling stories about how she, again, led by example through the peaceful transfer of power to her successor, Fidel V. Ramos. The Philippines paved its way to the first clean and peaceful elections since 1965. I believe in the genuineness of her intention, that it was more than just a dictate of a democratic institution.

The many times I saw Cory on the streets on the “fight” against charter change and the many times I read statements about the preservation of democracy, I do not forget that the dictate of democracy is for the good of the people and not to block charter change (if for genuine reforms). In the years to come, whether or not we remain a Democratic Republic, what matters is that we do not forget the true essence of her legacy.

Cory did not die in vain.

Damo nga salamat! Saludo ak sa imo!


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