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We owe Cory

By Juan Mercado
jmercadoFamily chitchat, over dinner, faded when evening news cameras panned on the frail lady. Supported by children, a visibly-thinner Corzaon Aquino gingerly shuffled to the hospital elevator. She started, this month, her latest clash in a year-and-half long battle with colon cancer.
Corazon Cojuangco Aquino is now 76. Like many daughters of the landed rich, Aquino graduated from the best schools here and abroad. She became the first woman president of the Philippines, as well as in Asia.
For ordinary Filipinos, like us, Cory was more.
We saw her as the quiet woman whose husband, Benigno Aquino, now a national hero, had been jailed, then murdered by the dictatorship. “Ninoy? Hes nobody, And Cory? Shes just a woman,” Ferdinand Marcos sneered, as people pressed her to seek election.
“And the place of women is in the bedroom”
“A nation of 60 thousand cowards and two sons-of-bitches”, was how a US senator described a Philippines then.
Murder, threats and bribes of what Imelda Marcos boasted was the “New Society chained us” – until Cory stood up.
Then, ordinary Filipinos rose too. And People Power led spilled over into similar non-violent uprisings: Czechoslovakias “Velvet Revolution”, the “Cedar Revolt” of Lebanon and Ukraines “Orange” Revolution.
Filipinos thrust Malacanang on her. And unlike Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and now Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, she didnt scheme to retain power. When her term ended, she returned to her modest home on Times Street, untainted by sleaze.
“What is the price of a valiant woman?” asks the Book of Proverbs. “Her value is far beyond pearls.”
We owe Cory. Distracted by political leeches, weve forgotten how much that IOU is. And ordinary families, like ours, join others in prayer for her. Perhaps, itd be useful to re-read, as I have these past days, what she had to say of the country today.
“Why did ( People Power ) happen?,” she asked in 2000 when a corrupt Estrada administration seem entrenched. “How did it happen? … When did the Filipinos decide – each one alone and without prodding – that it was now or never?
“Suddenly, they were there, standing tall like Ninoy, as he went down the stairs to his death because it is better to die in that posture than to go on living on your knees…To such questions, I will not even try to give answers. (These) are known already to those who actually lived them….
“Inside all true Filipinos is a sense that there is a point beyond which wrongdoing can not be allowed to go on.: that point is when they will take action. Hence, the instantaneous reaction to those few simple words: _Tama na. Sobra na. Palitan na. _
“There is a dark wind blowing across our country again – the wind of ambition, the wind of tyranny,” she said at the Quirino grandstand, on the 25th anniversary of imposition of martial law. “We are here to tell those who want to stay in power by martial law or Charter change: no way and never again….We are here not merely to fight Charter change for term extensions….We are here also to fight the old amnesias
“The presidency is so great an honor, no one deserves to have it again. It imposes a duty so important – to guide a whole country and protect a whole nation – that you must do it well. And if you did it well, you wont deserve t do it again.
Finally, to the man I supported in 1992, my friend Fidel Valdez Ramos, I say: _Marami ka nang nagawa, kaibigan kong Presidente.
Marami ka nang maaring ipagamalaki. _ We both know that the real savors of this country are the people, not any one of us.
“Trust the good people to continue your good work. I trusted in you when my term was over. Trust in the Filipino.” ( After that speech, Fidel Ramos threw in the towel on his bid to rewrite the Constitution and seek a second term.”)
At the Ramon Magsaysay Awardees Forum, Cory said:
“Those who believe that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun will not be interested in what I have to say. The events of the past decade must leave them cold, specially the replication of Edsa people power revolution through Eastern Europe Latin America and East Asia – until to came to a dead end at Tiananmen Square.
“People power is not culture bound, appears to have little to do with living standards, formal education…The most educated people in the world today lives contentedly in Singapore…
“But there seems to be strong connection between people power and moral goals. ( Its ) most notable feature is mass scale. But the basic unit is the solitary decision to stand up and say no without any regard to others sharing the risk…
And after People Power II, she said:”I have a more commonplace view of People Power. It is just the voice of decency in the mouths of the brave. It is the predictable manifestation of simple moral indignation when brazen injustice takes place right before its face.”
E-mail: juanlmercado@gmail.com

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