Cory Aquino’s legacy. The Passion of Christ? Ours

MANILA – Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino dies at 0318 hours today, Saturday, 01 August 2009; she is 76 years old going on 77 (25 January 1933). Now, we only have Cory Aquino’s legacy to be thankful for. I’m assuming, of course, that we know what legacy means and are able to discern what her legacy is. I’m also assuming that we have a grateful heart.
Dennis Carcamo (01 August 2009, philstar.com) quotes Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz as saying, ‘We have to thank God for giving her to us.’ Thank God for what?
Thank God for Cory Aquino enduring pain for her country?
As they say, no pain, no gain. AFP quotes her as saying in the 1990s, about learning a valuable lesson in governance (01 August 2009, straitstimes.com):
I realized that I could have made things easier for myself if I had done the popular things, rather than the painful but better ones in the long run. After all, in the long run, I wouldn’t be around to be blamed.
Sunday, 12 July 2009, during the mass he celebrates at the Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord inside SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City, Fr Mario Sobrejuanite says that Cory Aquino ‘continues to suffer for her country’ (quoted by Fil C Sionil & Kris Bayos, mb.com.ph). Fr Mario alludes to corruption and political shenanigans in high offices in the Philippine government.
Sheila Coronel says (05 July 2009, blogs.gmanews.tv):
Her political vocabulary is firmly Catholic: she speaks of suffering, sacrifice, good and evil, right and wrong. Her analysis of contemporary problems is couched in religious parable. To Cory Aquino, life – and politics – is a morality play, and our lives are nothing but pale versions of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
‘You know,’ she says, ‘when Ninoy was in prison, I used to think all of us have a quota for suffering and when Ninoy was assassinated, I supposed I’d filled up my quota of suffering. But that isn’t so, and when we think of Jesus Christ who did not do anybody any wrong, He was goodness Himself, and yet He was prepared to make all of these sacrifices and His suffering did not end until he died. So I suppose, each of us, while we are in this world, while we are in the Philippines, must think of what it is that we can still offer to make life better for our fellow Filipinos.
‘Who, except the gods, can live time through forever without any pain?’ Aeschylus
Thank God for Cory Aquino’s last good fight?
The mass at the De La Salle Greenhills gym in Mandaluyong on 17 February 2008 is attended by Cory Aquino and Jun Lozada (Non Alquitran & Edu Punay, 18 February 2008). The mass is organized by the Black and White Movement, BnW with the theme, ‘Do what is right. Walk in the light.’ Jun Lozada, squealer non-pareil; Cory Aquino is supporting ‘Lozada’s Crusade’ to tell the truth and nothing but the truth as part of the BnW’s overall effort to pull GMA’s hair and bring her down from the presidential chair because of alleged corruption as well as cheating in the last presidential election. On the same occasion, Archbishop Oscar Cruz says, with conviction, ‘The court of public opinion has already formed a judgment. The general public appreciates credible individuals and simply uses common sense in firmly deciding who are truthful and who are liars, who are upright and who are corrupt.’ Truth will set you free, if you are not misled.
Thank God for Cory Aquino’s political will?
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recognizes that and says on hearing of Cory Aquino’s death (01 August 2009, gmanews.tv):
Today, the Philippines lost a national treasure. Cory Aquino helped lead the revolution that restored democracy and rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril.
Karina Constantino-David describes People Power 1: ‘It was really an outpouring of the political will of (the) people’ (ffon.org). Cory Aquino became President because of People Power 1, but she failed to nurture People Power, the political will of the people. She was the most popular leader of her country, and she failed to capitalize on that. She had not properly understood political will.
Was it only Cory Aquino who failed her country? We all failed our country by not picking up from where People Power 1 left off. We have not properly understood political will either. What we have so far done is exercise the power to accuse others for the failure not of Cory Aquino’s democracy but our democracy, sparing ourselves from the blame.
Political will is like this: ‘A mutiny of 300 junior officers and soldiers of the Philippine Armed Forces rapidly came to an end on Sunday after failing to attract broader support either within the military or the population as a whole’ (John Roberts, 31 July 2003, wsws.org). There must be a follow-up political will, and it must come from the people themselves. Follow-up political will resides in the people.
Thank God for Cory Aquino’s last wish?
Senator Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino Jr reads the family statement upon the death of his mother (Maila Ager, 01 August 2009, newsinfo.inquirer.net):
Our mother peacefully passed away at 3:18 AM August 1, 2009, of cardio-respiratory arrest. She would have wanted to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers and your continued love and support. It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for our country.
I have to correct Noynoy. She didn’t die of cardio-respiratory arrest; rather, Cory Aquino died of colon cancer. The distinction is important and necessary. It was the cancer that led ultimately to the cardiac arrest – and cancer is a disease that develops over time.
And cancer, my dear friends, is a metaphor for what ails the Filipino nation. Remember Jose Rizal’s satiric diatribe called Noli Me Tangere? Not very intelligent of us, but we often translate the title as The Social Cancer. We might as well. As it was in 1887 when our hero came out with this book that denounced all of Philippine society – not only the masters (friars) but also the slaves (Filipinos) – ‘There are no masters where there are no slaves’ was how he put it. There is no corruption of the body politic leading to cancer if there are no corrupters. If the masters are corrupt, it is not enough to point to them and accuse them; with 1 finger we point to others, and at the same time with 3 fingers we point to ourselves. We have to do something about our corrupting influence. It all starts with you; it all starts with me.
Thank God for Cory Aquino’s faith?
Long ago, during her presidency, Cory Aquino tells Time, ‘If the country needs me, God will spare me’ (quoted by Howard Chua- Eoan, 31 July 2009, time.com). And God says yes.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim says on Friday, 31 July 2009 (quoted by Tina Santos & Co, newsinfo.inquirer.net), ‘We’ll wait for a miracle.’ And God says no.
We have to do more than pray for a miracle and fall on our knees. Cory Aquino’s last wish is to ‘Pray for one another and for our country.’ Pray for those whom you do not love even more. We have to keep the faith, but we also have to keep up the good works.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says (quoted by Ging Reyes, 01 August 2009, abs-cbnnews.com):
I wrote her a note just a few weeks ago when I heard that she was so sick. I admired her greatly. She was a woman of courage who loved her country. She and her family sacrificed so much to try to give the people, the Philippines a better future and I think she is an inspiration not only to the Philippines but to people everywhere who believe in the right values and positive future.
Has Cory Aquino inspired you to believe in the right values and positive future?
Are you willing to learn from Cory Aquino? Phil Bronstein, San Francisco Chronicle Editor at Large says (sfgate.com), ‘Aquino kept the faith.’ She had told Bronstein once:
My philosophy of life is not to worry about things I have no control over. I just do what I can and leave the rest to God.
Thank God for Cory Aquino’s legacy!
In 2007, ‘People used to compare me to the ideal President,’ she says, ‘but he doesn’t exist and never existed. He has never lived’ (quoted by Damien Pearse, 01 August 2009, guardian.co.uk). Ah.
Clarence Henderson says eventually she established the Presidential Committee on Public Ethics and Accountability, ‘a less corrupt body but one plagued by insufficient staff, funds, and political will to adequately address the problems’ (apmforum.com). Honest intentions are not good enough.
Cory Aquino wasn’t perfect, and neither are you and neither am I. Karen Percy, South East Asia correspondent of the Australian ABC News Online says that ‘she was not altogether successful in making the changes she promised during her presidency.’ Personally, I take that to mean that she failed herself – and we failed her too. She can’t do it all alone. That’s the reason for the battlecry: Hindi ka nag-iisa! You’re not alone! Unless of course your own people abandon you.
Now then, what is Cory Aquino’s legacy? It’s time to define the word. Legacy, says the American Heritage Dictionary, refers to (a) ‘documents or data that existed prior to a certain time’ and (b) ‘a change in process or technique that requires translating old data files to a new system.’ That computes. Didn’t she know her legacy? In 2000, she tells Fidel Valdez Ramos, her comrade in arms during the EDSA Revolution of 1986 (not to mention Juan Ponce Enrile): ‘We both know that the real saviors of this country are the people, not any one of us’ (quoted by Juan L Mercado, 04 July 2009, sunstar.com.ph). Now therefore, one part of Cory Aquino’s legacy is what she did right. Keeping her faith, she did what she could, and left the rest to God. What about us? The other part is a requirement for the people, for us to change from the old to the new – while everyone is praying, nobody is exempt from doing what is right. We all have to walk in the light, do what is right.
She receives the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding on 31 August 1998. The citation reads in part: ‘Cory Aquino could not possibly fulfill all the expectations she awakened. No one knew this better than she.’
We all should thank her. Now we all should know better. We all should do better!

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