Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mass, prayers to mark Cory's second death anniversary Monday


MANILA, Philippines -- President Benigno S. Aquino III will pay tribute to his mother and icon of democracy Corazon Aquino, on her second death anniversary Monday.

Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the President will lead the observance of Mrs. Aquino’s death anniversary and urged the public to offer prayers for her.

The President is scheduled to hear mass by the grave of his mother at the Manila Memorial Park on Sucat Road,n ParaƱaque City, at 4 p.m. Monday.

Members of the Aquino family, relatives, friends in government and the private sector are expected to attend the mass.

“For the millions who we know love our former President, we can offer prayers, especially on her second death anniversary and continue keeping her example in their hearts and minds,” Valte said.

Mrs. Aquino, who led the EDSA People Power revolution that toppled the Marcos leadership in 1986, died of colon cancer on August 1, 2009.

The massive outpouring of grief and support prompted her son, then Senator Aquino, to run for president a year later.

In her trademark yellow dress, Cory Aquino, became the national symbol of hope, courage, and conviction when she led a movement in toppling the dictatorship.

Two years after her death, Mrs. Aquino, also affectionately called “Tita Cory,” still commands millions of supporters, based on recent opinion polls.

Her unwavering faith in God, humility, and grace continue to inspire and remind people to avoid the nightmare of dictatorship and to strive to become a better nation.

Lawmakers have filed petitions seeking to declare her a “national hero” to sustain her legacy. Another resolution was filed declaring January 25, the birthday of the former leader, as Cory Aquino Day.

Mrs. Aquino has been immortalized in the new Philippine P500 bank note. A number of monuments have been built commemorating her heroism, while some schools and orchids have been named after.

“Whether there is a title or not, I think the Filipino people and world know very well the accomplishments of the late President Cory Aquino. That’s something that her memory has served and it’s been remembered by the whole world, whether she is declared a hero or not,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in an interview.

Lacierda, however, said it is up to the people to decide if it will declare Cory Aquino a national hero.

So far, no legislation has been approved by Congress proclaiming any historical figure, including Rizal, as national heroes. If she is proclaimed a national hero, Cory Aquino would be the first. A law is usually needed to declare a person a national hero, but many believe that heroes are made by acclamation, not by legislative fiat.

“I think the President would not be in a position to decide on that. It will be self-serving for him to make a comment on the suggestion. We leave it to the Filipino people to determine if she will be proclaimed a national hero,” Lacierda said.

Aquino recently admitted that he still misses her mother. He lived with his mother in their old family residence on Times Street, Quezon City, prior to her death.

A portrait of Cory Aquino hangs in the Yellow Room of the Palace where her son receives visitors.

Like the family of former President Cory, many others recalled her death two years ago.

“It was a Saturday, during our bar review. A friend texted me that she (Cory) had died,” recalled lawyer Michael Vargas, 27, a resident of Makati City.

“We went to the school cafeteria in Arellano for breakfast and verified the news. After hearing it from the news, I told myself that it was time for her to go,” Vargas said, noting that the former president had been hospitalized for weeks, her health deteriorating.

On a personal level, Vargas said he felt sympathy for the Aquino family since he had gone through something similar in the past. “I knew how hard it was for Cory and her family to deal with her sickness because my mother was also a cancer patient.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Alexander Estoesta, of Meycauayan, Bulacan, said he was at home for the weekend exactly two years ago on this day.

“At that moment, all I thought was the Filipino society had lost a champion of democracy and moral reformation,” reckoned Estoesta, a graduate student of political science.

What also stood out in Estoesta's mind was Cory's battle at that time, not with her ailment, but in “pursuing public sector transparency and accountability in the light of an erroneous administration.”

Hair stylist Jun Bayona, 24, could not recall any strong feelings that day as he snipped hair at a salon in Sampaloc, Manila where he worked. “Nandito ako buong araw noon, nagtatrabaho (I was here the whole day, working),” he recounted.

“I was only a year old when she was president. But she made me curious. I watched the news of her death while I worked. I used to watch Cory's interviews on TV when she was still alive. I knew that she was a Filipino that we could all be proud of.” Bayona said in Filipino.

For Police Officer 1 John Teody Siguen, Cory was more than a public servant. She was a hero.

“She is a true hero who found a way to end distatorship through peaceful means,” said Siguen, of Sampaloc.

As with a multitude of Filipinos, Siguen expressed regret over having to lose such a great leader like Cory. “Nanghihinayang ako dahil nabawasan tayo ng isang magaling na pinuno.”

And so, even in death, Tita Cory managed to unite us once more, this time in mourning and in agreeing that there will never be another icon of democracy like her.


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