Thursday, August 6, 2009

My sleepless nights watching in awe - My tribute to Cory

By Carissa Cueva

I sit still in awe, reveling in the awesome orations heard from the few chosen friends and family of the late Pres. Cory Aquino during necrological services for her, aired on Philippine TV.

I am taken back by the genuine grief I feel because of her passing. I am not family, nor friend. I am just one who monitored Philippine politics religiously even if I left the country more than 10 years ago.

I would browse through various Philippine newspapers online & have a premium Filipino channel subscription just so I could watch shows everything Filipino – telenovelas, entertainment & talk shows, travel shows and most especially current affairs. But all that has limits – I am usually offline and my TV is off by midnight. Anyone who knows me best would know how fond I am of sleeping – geez I could sleep for straight 8 hours and would be grouchy If I did not get my full 8. However, these last four days or so, since President Cory’s death, I have been having sleepless nights. Without really making a conscious plan to do so, I gravitated towards online updates and live TV coverage on the former President, lasting through wee hours of the morning. I have lost sleep but I’m not grouchy. I am sad but inspired.

All twenty orators talked of one common thing – President Corazon Aquino might have lived a very privileged life but she proved to be one of the most selfless and humble human beings in recent history who used her intelligence and religiosity to empower a people losing hope in achieving a better Philippines. Even in death, she managed to bring Filipinos together – either living in the homeland or scattered all over the world. My Facebook and Twitter pages show friends’ outpouring of sentiments, relentlessly.

I asked myself why and my initial thought is, of course, she was instrumental in ousting a dictator. She did not have illusions of grandeur as one of her friends described her. She heeded the call to step-up and be President when she could have chosen to continue to live a privileged life in exile in Boston, away from the circus of politics. All that was public knowledge, all that is written in history books. But nothing prepared me for the personal and poignant tributes given to her by unassuming friends, family and employees.

She was a regular mom who had a passion for painting and crafts and would show appreciation to family and friends by gifting them with personal hand-written notes, paintings and hand-made projects. She, the most prayerful woman I’ve heard about, loaning the famous rosary from Fatima to friends and family during turbulent times in their lives. She, who was one’s BFF (or best friend forever) who shared secrets, laughter and angst. She, much loved by a bodyguard who told the story of how she cooked for him a bowl of soup in the absence of household help one afternoon. She, who flew in commercial planes and refused private jets during her presidency. She, who ironically identified with the masses even as she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, educated in the best schools in the Philippines and in the United States. She, who became the dearest friend of her staunchest critic. She, who brought strong, respected gentlemen to tears (not that they lost their respectability). She who had a tycoon (who owned most of Makati’s business district) paying respects to her -- out in the streets, under the blistering sun and then rain, in the middle of the maddening crowd. My list could go on and on, but I have to stop, lest I bore my readers to death.

I found myself writing this perhaps as a therapy. Perhaps to have closure and to pay my last respects to an extra-ordinary woman, who is every inch an epitome of class and grace. Thank you and goodbye President Aquino. Your legacy to the Filipino people will live on. Now it’s your time to rest. Rest now in peace.

Carissa "Candy" Cueva is an Aguman alumna from batch Buknul 1989A and is based in California, USA. When the Aslag Online Team called for entries for its Cory Aquino special here on the blog, Ate Candy decided to share her own full post that she already wrote beforehand.

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