President Cory, Salamat
Woke up early Saturday morning, the 1st of August. Mang Nado the patternmaker was coming to the house and I had to get ready. I got a slice of pineapple to eat in front of the TV while waiting for Mang Nado to arrive.
Turned TV on and forgot about the pineapple.
President Corazon C. Aquino had passed on at 3:18 am.
I woke C up. Usually that's a dangerous thing to do on a weekend morning. But he was up in a second and didn't growl nor show fangs. This was news we've been covering for a while.
I remember telling C that President Cory was "on schedule". I was referring to how her illness was progressing. The loss of appetite, the difficulty in breathing, the need for a breathing apparatus, the "stable" condition. My aunt had just recently passed away after over a year of battling with stomach cancer. Cory's 'progress' was awfully familiar.
I guess we all expected to hear of Cory's passing. But maybe we were also anticipating a miracle. After all, many miracles happened in Cory's time.
I was weepy the entire weekend. Even at a clothes fitting at the house of a friend, I couldn't help but sigh and weep as we watched on TV the coverage of the transfer of the remains from Heritage Park to La Salle Greenhills. It didn't help that when they took the casket out of the hearse, it was raining. Something about the solemnity of military honors done in the rain. Like a scene from a war movie.
I think a lot of people agree that President Cory wasn't perfect. She made some poor decisions too. But one thing we all have to agree on is that she loved this country deeply and did everything she could to serve it well, even after her presidency.
She was decent. She was humble. She sacrificed much.
On Saturday morning, I felt that the world was older and more tired.
I guess part of my youth had died with Cory. She came to power in a time when I was too young to know cynicism. My parents brought me to EDSA to witness history unfolding.
There was so much hope during that time. Hope that drove out fear. And it was a frail woman in yellow who inspired such hope.
Now that she is gone, what hope do we cling on to?
Perhaps the deep sadness we all feel now will lead to a renewed collective strength to hope again. This time in ourselves and what we can do individually and collectively.
We shouldn't wait for another Cory. There will never be one.
P.S. In a TV feature on Cory, a former presidential staff talked about how decent President Cory was, even in the small things. Her grandchildren would be playing in Malacanan and they'd ask: "Lola, is this candy ours or the government's?" The presidential staff went on to say that the grand kids knew that they couldn't use/get government property, not even a piece of candy.
If only most, if not all, public servants had even a fraction of this kind of decency and respect for the country they served.