Yesterday, I was in the Manila Cathedral to pay last respects to former President Cory Aquino. Between going there and sitting inconspicuously in the massive hall of the church, I was frustratingly feeling no attachments whatsoever towards Cory. I was beginning to think there must be something wrong with me. While the whole Filipino nation, together with the rest of the world, mourns for the death of this one supposedly "great" person, I sat there, feeling absolutely nothing.
I was only five years old when Cory took on the presidency. I grew up in a generation too young to see and understand the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship. Too young even to appreciate the promise of new hope by a democracy redeemed by a people power revolution. The Cory Aquino I knew then was a far different Cory hailed as a hero. She, perhaps like any other presidents before and after her, was never beyond the critique of the public she was serving. If anything, Cory to me was a reminder of the many long-hours of brown-outs I endured in my elementary years. Or memories of coup-de-etats being quelled during her term. And after three presidents, and several cheap imitations of people power thereafter, Cory remained a historical figure, a housewife pushed from obscurity to power, seen every now and then in the political arena. If there was any sign of greatness in her, I sure have no recollections of it, except what's found in the pages of history textbooks I compulsorily read in school.
And so I fail to give her the respect that is due her. She, who is an an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy, does not mean anything to me. Sadly. I could not even muster enough strength or logic to feign sympathy or any semblance of it.
I sat thoughtfully listening to the eulogies. This time, as if for the very first time, I saw the Cory they all loved and esteemed. Stripped of the titles and the accolades, she was first of all a mother and wife. She, like any of us, could have chosen to remain anonymous. She could have chosen to just take care of her household, and not bother herself with stately affairs. A more convenient choice, right? After all, what difference could she make? But then again, she chose otherwise. Cory, as a president, may not have done much. Perhaps, her performance was not even exemplary. But she persevered armed only with a sense of righteousness, integrity, justice and dependence on an Almighty Hand. And a great faith in the Filipino people.
Cory's death could not have come in a more impeccable timing. Her death, just like her life for the past two decades, is calling and uniting the Filipino nation to awaken to greatness. YET AGAIN. She continues to inspire in us the unadulterated EDSA spirit that lies sleeping within all of us. This time, to battle a dictatorship called apathy that has enslaved our hearts for the longest time. To redeem the glory of freedom and democracy from the snares of corruption and immorality.
From here on, to remain indifferent is plain and simple unforgivable.
To tie a yellow ribbon. To scatter confetti. To act now. To fight still. To hope still.