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The passing of former President, Cory Aquino

>> Saturday, August 1, 2009

ABS-CBN reports:
MANILA - Two weeks ago, the family of former President Cory Aquino approached designer Paul Cabral for an important task: to prepare an attire for Mrs. Aquino's funeral.
Cabral then prepared a beaded suit in a "happy yellow" shade, according to Boy Abunda, a friend of the Aquino family.
By Saturday morning, Mrs. Aquino's daughters donned the yellow suit on her when they had a private time with her at the Heritage Park in Taguig City Saturday morning. Mrs. Aquino breathed her last at 3.18 a.m. at the Makati Medical Center.
At the Heritage, the siblings also prepared Mrs. Aquino's remains for public viewing. By 3 p.m., the convoy left for La Salle Greenhills gymnasium in San Juan City. It was the start of a chance for Filipinos to personally pay their last respects to Asia's first woman president.
Serenity
People and cars started to flock to the Catholic school a few minutes after Mrs. Aquino's only son, Senator Benigno Aquino III, told a press conference at almost noon on Saturday that they had chosen La Salle as the venue for wake. He said it could accommodate a big crowd.
By around 4 p.m., the convoy with Mrs. Aquino's remains arrived in La Salle and was met by the waiting groups of military, navy, and police. A marching band played in the background as the coffin, wrapped in a Philippine flag to symbolize her national importance, was eased out of the funeral car. As the uniformed officers started the formal arrival honors, rains poured, muting the gun salute. By the time the uniformed men made another synchronized step towards the gym, the rains dramatically ceased.
The national anthem was played as hundreds of soldiers gave Mrs. Aquino a salute. As a former president, Mrs. Aquino also concurrently held the highest position in the armed forces.
The uniformed officers slowly brought the coffin inside the gym. Yellow confetti rained.
Not long after, La Salle's gates opened to usher in Mrs. Aquino' supporters who had been queuing under the rain for hours. Inside the gym, they had few seconds of chance to view Mrs. Aquino's visibly thinner and more frail frame. She is clutching a gold and pink rosary that went well against her "happy yellow" suit made by designer Cabral. The rosary, according to Abunda, was given by Fr. Sonny Ramirez, a close friend fo Mrs. Aquino.
She exuded serenity even on her deathbed, according to some accounts.
Iron will
Family members, friends and former foes, politicians, businessmen, entertainment and religious personalities trickled into the gym before the scheduled 8 p.m. mass on Saturday--the first in a series scheduled in La Salle.
Officiating the mass were Bishops Gabriel Reyes and Soc Villegas who are both close to the late Cardinal Jaime Sin. The latter was instrumental in propelling Mrs. Aquino to power in 1986. At the time, Sin made a radio annoucement invoking the laity to go to the streets to support Mrs. Aquino.
In his sermon, Reyes compared Cory to Joan of Arc. He said they are both simple and unassuming individuals who were thrust into a Herculean task. He said "God knew she (Cory) will not abuse her power and will not want to be president for life."
He added that the yellow ribbons, now widespread all over the country, are likely "expression of longings for public servants like Cory who are not greedy."
Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, who used to be at odds with Mrs. Aquino over the issue of the American bases in the Philipines, agreed. He described
Aquino as an "exemplary" and "brave" leader.
Also in the audience was former President Fidel V. Ramos, who succeeded Mrs. Aquino in 1992. Asked to describe the leader who endorsed his candidacy then, he said, "She is a woman with a steel core. She has courage and an iron will."
Landmarks
Other mourners also sought to express their grief by flocking to landmarks traditionally associated with her.
One of them is the corner of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas avenues at the heart of the Makati City business district. This area had been the venue of many rallies that Cory used to join whenever she wanted to send a message to Filipinos. This was also where Filipinos first showered yellow confetti made of shredded yellow phonebook pages to show support when Mrs. Aquino was running for president in 1986.
Members of civil society, business community, and former Cabinet secretaries of Mrs. Aquino made their way towards the monument for Mrs. Aquino's slain husband at the road intersection. They lit candles and proceeded to an inter-faith service at the nearby Ayala Tower One building.
A multi-media presentation of her public and private lives was shown, and short messages to celebrate Mrs. Aquino's life and contributions to mankind were made. Hymns of farewell, including a unity song made popular during the 1986 people power, brought many to tears.
Another landmark is the Edsa Shrine, which was the venue of two people power revolts that toppled administrations. The first one benefited Mrs. Aquino, while the second one President Gloria Arroyo, who, incidentally, is the country's second woman leader.
A chapel is located at the foot of the shrine, which stands over the intersection of Edsa and Ortigas Avenues, the site of the people power movements. Since Mrs. Aquino was confined at the hospital last week due to her worsening colon cancer, supporters have been holding a 40-hour vigil since Thursday last week. The vigil was initially intended for the speedy recovery of Mrs. Aquino.
After they held their 4 a.m. vigil and mass for Mrs. Aquino on Saturday morning, they learned that Mrs. Aquino already passed away. Those who had been part of the prayer group could just express deep loss.
Masses
In true keeping of Mrs. Aquino's Catholic faith, supporters all over the country attended masses or followed traditions to commemorate her memory.
In Antipolo City where Mrs. Aquino frequented to hear mass, a regular mass on Saturday turned into a requiem. It was the same in the Twin Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish, which is located near Mrs. Aquino's residence in Times St. in Quezon City. Priests have similar accounts of Mrs. Aquino: she was simple, sat on the same seat, and shunned special attention toward her.
Parishoners, moved by Mrs. Aquino's quiet presence through the years, even started laying flowers on her favorite seat in the church.
Her townmates in Tarlac City were also moved upon hearing the news about her death. They flocked to the town plaza, eventually hearing mass in a church there. Yellow ribbons were tied on trees, car antennas, gates, among others.
Masses offered for the repose of Mrs. Aquino's soul were even held in Ilocos Region, which is considered "Marcos country," referring to Mrs. Aquino's nemesis in previous decades.
Aside from religious rites, supporters also offered flowers, mass cards, and lit candles. A memorabilia board was set up at the Edsa Shrine to accommodate these.
At Mrs. Aquino's Times St. residence, a steady stream of supporters--including former officials and ordinary people--have been leaving flowers and cards. When the rains poured, those passing by just honked their cars to express support.
The cards were addressed to "Tita (aunt) Cory," indicating warm regards toward the late democracy icon.
For more news, log on to http://coryaquino.abs-cbnnews.com

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