Yellow ribbons. Cory Aquino & the Colors of Hope

Revised 28 August at 0807 hours 
MANILAWHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN? Let me tell you a little detective story, and it’s all about Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino, who became the first President of a country ever ensconced by People Power; on the 25th of February 1986, the history-setting Filipinos made her the first female President of an Asian country ever, and she became Time’sWoman of the Year’ (05 January 1987, time.com), making history 3 times in a row. Her favorite color, yellow, became the color of the truth of People Power. ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree’ had been her martyred husband Benigno Aquino Jr’s favored-associated song.
So, for years, yellow pervaded the Philippines and the rest of the world among those who sought peace by way of peace. Then Cory Aquino joined the ‘forces’ calling for the resignation of GMA as President of the Philippines. That was when, instead of yellow, Cory Aquino began to be associated with black & white, apparently believing in the colored mantra of the movement: ‘Because the truth does not come in shades of gray’ (blacknwhite-movement.com).
Researching, what have I found so far? That I have a problem with black & white; that the journalists have problems using black & white as the only colors of truth. And so do the doctors. And so do the friends and children of Cory Aquino.
Last year, Cory Aquino was diagnosed with cancer of the colon (AP, 24 March 2008, cbsnews.com). She began chemotherapy 25 March 2008 for 6 months at the Makati Medical Center, MMC; following the treatment, she underwent surgery to remove parts of her colon 04 May 2009 (blogs.gmanews.tv). She was brought back to MMC 24 June 2009 because ‘she continues to suffer from poor appetite,’ according to her son Senator Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III (Maila Ager, 24 June 2009, newsinfo.inquirer.net.ph). The truth has shades of gray. Actually, Cory Aquino continues to suffer from colon cancer, stage 4 (abs-cbnnews.com) and the side-effects of chemotherapy. My research says lack of appetite is only one of the 199 side-effects of chemotherapy (see ‘My Cancer Story,’ 17 May 2009, americanchronicle.com/). Chemotherapy is trying to solve a problem and compounding it 199 times.
She’s okay and doing well. She was soundly asleep when I arrived,’ Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim said (Kris Bayos, 24 July 2009, mb.com.ph). Shades of gray. He is not telling the whole truth because it’s not a happy one, and he is not about to accept it. What he said is not black & white.
Margarita Juico, a trusted aide of Cory Aquino, initiated a text brigade calling for people to ‘tie a yellow ribbon’ as proof of concern and care for the ‘widow in yellow’ (Bayos as cited). And they did, festooning some public places with yellow ribbons. Each of those ribbons of yellow was a sign of hope, a silent prayer. Life, impending death, hope are not simply matters of black & white.
‘Let’s continue to pray for the healing and fast recovery of Tita Cory because with God, nothing is impossible,’ said Fr Mark Munda at the healing mass organized by the Manila City government (24 July 2009, mb.com.ph). The color of the possible is neither black nor white. Black is gloomy; white is too pure. In these depressing times, we need the color of hope.
But what is the color of hope? For Michael Hoyle, it’s blue (Christopher Muther, Boston Globe, 19 March 2009, boston.com). For Benjamin Moore, it’s ‘a blazing citron yellow’ (Muther as cited). For Flickr photographer Allure+Desire, ‘Green is the color of hope (and it fits blond hair perfectly’) (flickr.com). For book author Irina Ratushinskaya, ‘Grey Is The Color Of Hope’ (amazon.com). To people in distress in China, orange is the color of hope (english.peopledaily.com.cn). Hope has no color; hope has many colors.
What is the color of cancer? So far, modern medicine man has not come up with a cure for cancer. Western medicine likes to trace its history back to Hippocrates (400 BC), calling him Father of Medicine. Do the doctors really know what they think they know? I don’t think so. Hippocrates was much more intelligent than they credit him for. ‘He believed that it was best to leave cancer alone because those who got treatment didn’t survive as long’ (Emory University, cancerquest.org). So, what else is new?
The black & white of it is that even in our times, even advanced chemotherapy is not a cure; it’s only a treatment. There are remissions, and those are sometimes referred to as cures. That’s truth in a shade of gray. A remission is a ‘lessening of intensity or degree’ (American Heritage Dictionary); unfortunately, it’s not a cure. A remission is a ‘period during which the symptoms of a disease abate or subside’ (thefreedictionary.com). The symptoms go; the disease stays.
A cure removes the cause of a disease. When a surgeon operates on you and cuts out the cancerous cells in your body, that’s exactly what he does – removes the diseased cells of your body. That’s all. The operation was successful; unfortunately, the patient lived – with the cause of cancer untouched. Those cancerous cells cannot be mistaken as the cause of your cancer; they are the unmistakable signs of your cancer, that something is wrong with your immune system.
In corruption, public or private, at the top level or at the bottom level, in billions of dollars or hundreds of pesos, the $ and P are not the causes of corruption – greed is. You kick the corrupt out of office, and the greed is still there; you surgically remove the cancerous cells, and the cancer is still there.
So, we turn to God. We pray for a miracle of healing; we go for the instant cure. God, please take away the greed of the world. And: God, please take away the cancer of our father, mother, uncle, aunt, godfather, godmother, or my best friend.
How many of such prayers have God answered? Is God answering your prayers for Cory Aquino? Her son, Senator Benigno Aquino III, says that doctors have told them that his mother is ‘stable’ and that ‘nobody can really say when …’ (Joanne Rae Ramirez, 25 July 2009, philstar.com). Shades of gray. Eldon Cruz, one of Cory Aquino’s sons-in-law, says the family will release a statement on her condition ‘very soon’ (Fe Zamora, 26 July 2009, newsinfo.inquirer.net). Deedee Siytangco, her former spokesman, says ‘She’s okay, she’s still stable’ (Sophia M Dedace, 16 July 2009, gmanews.tv). Kris Aquino, Cory Aquino’s youngest & beloved daughter, says she wants to be with her mother’s side ‘for whatever time left’ (ANN, 19 July 2009, gmanews.tv). All shades of gray.
Now then, allow me to say what others, including her children, don’t want to say: Cory Aquino is dying. That is not a statement of hope; that is a statement of fact. It is a black & white statement, with no shades of gray about it. You don’t like it. I never liked black & white myself. I need the color of hope.
Don’t worry. I have lived a full life,’ Cory Aquino said almost a year ago, when she learned she had colon cancer and agreed to chemotherapy. ‘I cannot ask for more’ (quoted by ANN, 02 August 2008, philstar.com).
If my time comes and if I have the luxury of reflecting, I will ask only 1 question of myself: ‘Did I do my best?’ That is to say, did I eventually learn from my mistakes, and did I become the best that I could be from then on? Did I eventually learn to love God with my whole heart and mind and soul? Did I eventually learn to love others as much as I loved myself? If I did, it means I had experienced the fullness of the miracle of the color of God’s love.
Having said that, I would rather have friends than prayer warriors. What we need today are friends through thick and thin. Says Henri Nouwen:
The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing … not healing, not curing … that is a friend who cares.
Even so, if I cannot expect a miracle directly from God, I will expect a miracle indirectly from Him, from Mother Nature, which He created in the first place. From Hippocrates, we have learned that diet, fasting, use of herbs, hydrotherapy, exercise can result in natural healing. That I have hope at all, that I already consider as a little miracle. It adds color to my life.
Yolo has what it calls ‘The Color of Hope Palette’ and you can mix colors in different modes for your abode (yolocolorhouse.com). Launched just last month, June 2009, Color of Hope was ‘created by artists with nature in mind.’ The palette has shades of white (Yolo calls it Imagine), shades of grey (Nourish), shades of yellow (Aspire), shades of green (Thrive), shades of blue (Dream), and shades of red (Create). What they’re trying to tell us is this: Hope has many colors. Literally.
Truth has many colors too and, although I accept that black is a color (in printing, it is), I prefer yellow to black. Yellow reminds me of the 7 colors of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Lucky 7, you say? Luck has nothing to do with hope. Hope is a choice. Actually, the rainbow has many more colors than 7. The rainbow has the colors of hope. Give me a rainbow anytime!

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