Cory Aquino's remains were simply transferred from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral yesterday, though to thousands of Filipinos who lined the streets, sported yellow clothing, or tied yellow ribbons to their vehicles as tribute to her, it seemed like EDSA I all over again. The scenes along Ayala Avenue, complete with a shower of yellow confetti and people flashing the "Laban" hand sign, were reminiscent of that fateful day when Cory became the beacon of democracy in our country.
More crowds are expected to pay their respects to Cory on her last day of lying in state at the Manila Cathedral today. Though her funeral tomorrow is a private one, the government has declared the day a special non-working holiday. She succumbed to colon cancer last Saturday.
This tremendous display of love and respect for Cory and grief at her passing needs no explanation, as she is perhaps the most beloved Filipino president. To Filipinos, she was simply "Tita Cory," her countless achievements notwithstanding. She was a humble, thoughtful woman who won her people's hearts even when she initially had no aim of becoming a leader.
Before she became Mrs. Aquino, Corazon Cojuangco only intended to work as a math tutor, a language interpreter, and a lawyer. She was educated in St. Scholastica's College and Assumption Convent before she was sent to study in New York. Shortly after she came home to study law, however, she married Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. and later on became a mother of five.
It was only after her husband's death that she finally stepped into the limelight, challenged the dictatorship, and successfully ousted the iron hand that ruled the Philippines for twenty years. As she assumed the presidency, she vowed: "As I came to power peacefully, so shall I keep it."
Her strength as a woman inspired millions in the nation and the world over. Even our own GIRLTalkers can attest to that. The challenge to all of us now is: how do we continue to let Tita Cory inspire us as women with the capacity to effect change, even in our own simple ways, today?
(Photo by Enie Reyes)