Nation bids farewell to Cory
MANILA — Former president Corazon “Cory” Aquino was laid to rest Wednesday with full military honors in a simple tomb next to her assassinated husband, after an eight-hour funeral procession joined by hundreds of thousands of supporters who hailed her as an exemplar of moral leadership.
The Aquino family rejected offers by Arroyo for a state funeral, but the Armed Forces gave full military honors.
Post your prayers and condolences for Cory Aquino’s family
Shortly before reaching the mausoleum where she will be laid to rest, pallbearers stopped as military honor guards executed a 21-gun salute. Her coffin was transferred afterwards to a waiting caisson bedecked with flowers that was pulled by a military jeep towards her tomb.
About 600 priests and nuns linked arms around the Aquino mausoleum at the Manila Memorial Park to keep back the crowd who followed the flatbed truck with her flag-draped coffin on its final, eight-hour journey through the rain-soaked streets of the capital.
The procession went from the Manila Cathedral on a 22-kilometer route jammed with Filipinos dressed in yellow — the signature color of the 1986 prodemocracy uprising led by Aquino that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Many in the crowds flashed the “L” sign for “laban,” or fight, in Filipino — an anti-dictatorship slogan — and chanted “Cory.”
Aquino was buried Wednesday evening inside a simple white-painted tomb next to her husband, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the opposition leader whose mantle she reluctantly took on after his 1983 assassination when he returned from exile in the US to run against Marcos.
Despite a patchy record during her six years in office as the 11th president of the Philippines, she remained a beloved figure. She died on Saturday after a yearlong battle with colon cancer. Her passing prompted an immense outpouring of grief.
Her daughter Kris said in her tearful farewell to her mother during the 9 a.m. mass that she was grateful for the privilege of being Cory Aquino’s child and promised to lead a life that would make her mother proud.
Kris Aquino-Yap said her mother’s last words were “take care of each other,” but that this message is intended not only for the family but for all Filipinos.
“You have given our family great honor. For my family, the Filipinos are worth it,” said Kris, as she thanked her countrymen for the outpouring of prayers and support during the family’s time of bereavement.
In his homily during the requiem mass, Fr. Catalino Arevalo agreed that Mrs. Aquino always had the welfare of the country in mind. He said the order of former President’s priority was: God, country, the people, and family.
Mrs. Aquino was the “only true queen the people had” and the “source of our faith,” added Arevalo. “She made this world much safer and less cruel for us.”
Arevalo, who delivered the homily in accordance with Mrs. Aquino’s wishes, thanked her children for sharing her with the country. “They never had their parents to themselves,” he said.
Kris added in her eulogy that she always felt she was her mother’s favorite because she was most like her father, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, and he was her mother’s one and only love.
She apologized to her mother for lying by saying the family would be okay, explaining they wanted her to be free from the pain and not to worry over them. “Mom, it will take a lifetime for us to be okay,” she said.
Kris also thanked her sisters Balsy, Pinky, and Viel, and her brother Senator Noynoy Aquino, whose political career she promised to support although she asked him not to get married. “You are Josh’s security blanket, his protector now that mom is gone,” Kris told Noynoy.
“Nobody can replace her,” said real estate agent Jessa Roche, 31, who recalled how as a child her parents had taken her to the “people power” demonstrations that transformed the Philippine politics after two decades of authoritarian rule.
“She taught us to pray and fight for our democracy. If a tyrant will return, there will be millions of Corys who will stand up. She left a good example and the next generation should continue that legacy,” she said.
Former presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, the latter deposed in a second popular uprising in 2001 on corruption allegations, attended Wednesday’s requiem Mass. They were joined by East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta.
“I think the greatest tribute that Filipinos can pay to Corazon Aquino and so many others who gave their lives for democracy is… there should be no more dictatorships again,” said Ramos-Horta.
Aquino inspired East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia a decade ago, he said.
Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales urged voters to elect next year a president who is like Cory and Ninoy.
President Arroyo, who was at odds with Aquino after she called for Arroyo to resign because of vote-rigging allegations, paid a quick visit to the wake Wednesday morning upon her return from an official trip to the US and left before the church ceremonies and procession.
Relatives, friends, supporters and military commanders placed yellow roses inside the tomb before it was sealed. The crowd sang the patriotic song “Bayan Ko (My Country),” which was popular during the anti-Marcos struggle.
Earlier, in a tearful message of thanks to the multitudes of mourners, Aquino’s youngest daughter Kris said, “You have given our family honor beyond anything we could ever have hoped to receive.”
“No matter how great the sacrifices of my parents, I can honestly say to all of you that for my family, the Filipinos are worth it.”
In a highly symbolic gesture, the late Marcos’ two children paid their last respects Tuesday to the woman who toppled their father. It was unlikely, however, to reconcile the families’ bitter rivalry.
Aquino’s brother-in-law, former Sen. Agapito “Butz” Aquino, welcomed them at the wake saying the family had “no fight with the children” of Marcos.
Aquino rose to prominence after her husband was assassinated in 1983 as he returned from US exile to oppose Marcos. Hesitant, she inherited his mantle and agreed to run against the strongman in 1986.
Marcos claimed an election victory over Aquino, but the polls were widely seen as fraudulent. A group of military officers rebelled against him, triggering “people power” protests by hundreds of thousands that finally toppled Marcos.
In office, Aquino struggled to meet high public expectations. Her land redistribution program fell short of ending economic domination by the landed elite. Her leadership, especially in social and economic reform, was often indecisive, leaving many of her closest allies disillusioned by the end of her term.
She faced down seven coup attempts – most staged by the same clique of officers who had risen up against Marcos and felt they had been denied their fair share of power.
Aquino stepped down in 1992, refusing to seek another term and reminding people that her mission – the restoration of democracy – had been completed.
Despite her “serious flaws” in office, left-wing Rep. Teddy Casino expressed gratitude to Aquino for reminding “the world that there is perhaps a Cory in every Filipino looking for a way to become manifest.” (AP/Sunnex)