Who Will Be Their Cory?

By Adel A. Tamano
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:05:00 08/16/2009

TWO WEDNESDAYS ago, in alternately pouring rain and humid heat for two and a half hours, I waited in line with students of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) to pay my last respects to former president Cory Aquino.

Being the president of PLM and one of the department heads in Manila, I could have cheated and skipped the queue, but it would have been contrary to the things that Cory stood for – equality, fairness and democracy.

In fact, the little inconveniences of waiting in line and the erratic weather made perfect sense to me: I wanted to suffer a little, as a thanksgiving gesture to a woman who had lived a life of sacrifice for my country and so, logically, suffered for me as well.

But it was not logic – at least not the cold, impersonal kind that we associate with the term – that brought thousands of people to line up to pay honor to their Tita Cory. Logic would have dictated that these people stay in the comfort and safety of their homes and watch TV to get their last glimpse. Certainly, rationality was not what brought us there. It was emotion and compulsion. For me specifically, a sense of duty and gratitude.

Deep sadness

Days after, I was still in an emotional funk. I was deeply sad but afraid to articulate it, not even to my family and friends. I feared I would be scoffed at: There goes Adel being overly dramatic and self-indulgent about the demise of Cory.

The problem was, the sadness was there, palpable and real. It was a feeling that the country had become a less noble place because of her passing.

In fact, having stood in line with PLM students, I could not help but wonder: Who would be their Cory?

These young men and women were born after the Edsa Revolution, and what they knew of Cory, particularly the years when she had to make the courageous and painful transition from homemaker to national leader, was secondhand at best.

They knew Kris – Cory’s daughter who is a popular media personality but not a political or social leader in the classic sense – but were only vaguely familiar with Cory. They knew Cory was at one time the country’s President. They knew she was the wife of assassinated opposition leader Ninoy Aquino but they had not been made aware of the struggles she had had to face and overcome.

In contrast, Cory was a touchstone and a benchmark for my generation – an icon of inner strength, spirituality and, most of all, decency.

I started to worry for the students. Who would be their Cory?

Days after that rainy Tuesday, I realized that perhaps the answer to that question consisted of two seemingly incongruent ideas: One, there will never be another Cory and, two, the next generation will have to create their own Cory.

Cory was, in the truest sense, sui generic – a unique person made for a specific time and context. Some have suggested that she was a blessing from the Creator sent to the Philippines to guide us through the dictatorship. Consequently, there can never be another one like her. The mould, which was cast for that specific and unique purpose, would not only be broken but could not be remade because the times – and the needs of our nation – have changed.

Need to inspire

Time and context will change but the need for genuine leadership, for role models, and for people to inspire our country to move forward, will not. Our PLM students and their generation will need their own version of Cory, one who will fit the needs and the challenges of the times. Or, even better, they will take the braver step and be their own Cory.

The idea of stepping up to the challenge was for me the greatest lesson from Cory Aquino – that even the most seemingly ordinary Filipino, one whom many called a mere housewife and a know-nothing (“walang alam”) – could rise to the challenge and lead an entire nation back to democracy.

So who will be their Cory? Students, please raise your hands!

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Ninoy, Cory, Evelio

By Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya

WHEN I passed by the Evelio Javier monument in front of the provincial capitol in San Jose, Antique last Monday, I noticed he was holding a yellow ribbon.

Antique Governor Sally Perez said the yellow ribbon on Evelio’s statue was part of their tribute to former President Aquino. Rightly so because the heroic lives of Evelio and that of Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. and President Cory Aquino are inextricably twined.

Although I was born and grew up in Antique, I personally met Evelio Javier when I was covering the Cory Aquino for President Movement in 1985. He and Sally, on loan to CAPM from the University of the Philippines where she was in the staff of UP President Edgardo Angara, were active in soliciting one million signatures prodding Cory to run for president in the 1986 presidential snap election.

At that time, Evelio, former governor of Antique, had a pending protest against the election of Arturo Pacificador as member of the Batasan Pambansa in the May 1984 polls.

The 1984 election was bloody in Antique. On the eve of election, the leaders of Javier and Enrique Zaldivar, the opposition candidate for governor who won, were ambushed at the foot of Pampang bridge in the town of Sibalom by men suspected to be aligned with Pacificador. The tragedy became known as the “Pampang Massacre.”

Evelio, like Ninoy Aquino, represented enlightened politics at the time when everything in the country revolved around the Marcos dictatorship. Against guns, goons and gold, Evelio, had an army of young campaign volunteers. He would take the banca in visiting the province’s coastal towns. He was a Jesus-like figure as he waded to the shore to his adoring supporters.

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As governor, he made Antiquenos, many of whom had developed an inferiority complex because of the province’s reputation as land of the sacadas, rediscover their proud heritage by initiating the “Binirayan” festival.

Evelio eventually won his election protest after the 1986 People Power revolution. But it was too late. On Feb. 11, 1986, Evelio was gunned down in front of the provincial capitol while he was overseeing the canvassing of votes in the snap polls between Cory Aquino and Marcos. Again, Pacificador, a Marcos loyalist, was accused, but he was later acquitted.

The assassination of Evelio, done in broad daylight, gangland style, helped spark the outrage that led to first Edsa Revolution.

Sally and I were talking about the many similarities of Ninoy, Evelio and Cory’s funeral, like the coffin being carried in a flatbed truck and the outpouring of grief by the people.

From Antique, Evelio’s remains were brought to Manila. At the Baclaran church, it was the first time foreign diplomats addressed Cory, who led the mourners, “Mrs. President.”

I remember foreign embassies calling up Malaya, which was then providing the alternative to the Marcos-controlled establishment newspapers, patiently spelling out the ambassadors’ name in their condolences to Evelio. They wanted to put on record their governments’ outrage over the killing of Evelio.

At the funeral march of Cory two weeks ago, people along Sucat road were holding lighted candles. I was reminded of the funeral march of Evelio from Caticlan in Aklan to San Jose. I don’t remember anymore if it was a 15- hour procession. What I remember was people lining the streets in the evening with lighted candles. It was awesome.

Evelio was buried Feb. 20 amidst calls of Cory for civil disobedience in protest of massive election fraud. We all rushed back to Manila. Feb. 22, then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Gen. Fidel Ramos, chief of the Philippine Constabulary, declared their withdrawal of support from Marcos.

The rest is history.

Today, we remember the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino. On Aug. 30, we pay tribute to our heroes, who dedicated their lives to the cause of peace and freedom for Filipinos.

Gathering of Democracy Icons

June 7, 2008 at 12:24 am
Gathering of democracy icons
Gathering of Democracy Icons
Former President Joseph Estrada hosted a dinner Friday night for Malaysian former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datin Seri Wan Azizah, and former President Cory Aquino Friday.
Following is the account of Estrada spokesperson Margaux Salcedo:
Ibrahim arrived at 7 p.m. sharp at Estrada’s residence at #1 Polk Street, North Greenhills. He was accompanied by his wife, Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament Datin Seri Wan Azizah.
The couple were personally greeted by Estrada and Cory Aquino, who had arrived earlier with his son Senator Noynoy Aquino, and by former cabinet members of the Estrada administration who had met Anwar in the past, including Sec. Jose Pardo and Sec. Ben Diokno.
“This is a coming together of icons of democracy,” Estrada said.
Mrs. Aquino was looking quite strong and was in very jovial spirits.
It was the first meeting of Anwar and Estrada since they both got out of prison. “This is important to me because he is more than a friend to me, he is like family,” Anwar said of Estrada. Asked what he liked most about Estrada, Anwar said, “It is his passion for the poor that amazes me the most. I really see his sincerity in trying to uplift the plight of the masses.” Estrada returned the compliment, saying that Anwar was “not only brilliant but also sincere.”
Azizah said this meeting is important to them because they had been wanting to visit former President Estrada when he was incarcerated, but they were not allowed to do so by the government.
Dinner was an elaborate fine-dining experience catered by French Corner Chef Billy King, but the mood was very casual and pleasant. The dinner fare included lamb, roast beef, sea bass and lobster. This was followed by an evening of song where Estrada sang traditional Filipino songs to the delight of the Malaysians.
Earlier in the afternoon, Anwar spoke at a forum in the RCBC auditorium organized by the De La Salle College of Business and Economics, the Ramon V del Rosario Sr. Graduate School of Business, and the Asian Institute of Democracy.