Aquino, his 4 sisters hear Mass at their mom’s tombBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Away from the public eye, President Benigno Aquino, his four sisters and the Cojuangco-Aquino clan commemorated the third death anniversary of former President Corazon Aquino at her grave site at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City Wednesday.
Mr. Aquino and his sisters Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Pinky Aquino-Abellada, Viel Aquino-Dee and Kris Aquino heard Mass for their mother at the cemetery officiated by Fr. Catalino Arevalo, spiritual adviser of the late President.
Kris spoke on behalf of the Aquino family, saying their mother would be very proud of Mr. Aquino’s accomplishments as President.
Arevalo, reflecting on the significance of the life and death of the late President, pointed to “the power” that led to the People Power Revolution in 1986, and the need to “light a fire in our hearts” to continue the work began by Mrs. Aquino and assassinated Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.
Several members of the Cabinet and close family friends attended the 10 a.m. Mass—Secretaries Jose Rene Almendras (energy), Albert del Rosario (foreign affairs), Herminio Coloma (communications operations group), Voltaire Gazmin (defense), Mar Roxas (transportation and communications), Corazon Soliman (social welfare) and Enrique Ona (health); Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Chair Margarita Juico and General Manager Ferdinand Rojas II, US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr., and Ninoy Aquino International Airport general manager Jose Angel Honrado.
The President skipped two other events scheduled later in the day—the unveiling of the bust of his mother, which was scheduled at 5:30 p.m., and a mini photo exhibit, both held at Our Lady of Edsa Shrine in Mandaluyong City.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President was monitoring the floods in affected areas through disaster-response agencies.
‘Love your own’
In her speech, Kris said she believed that their mother would be very proud of her brother.
“Of course, I feel that,” she said, chuckling.
“Love your own, isn’t it? But I think, any parent … would be happy about a son’s accomplishments,” she said. “And the economic gains that P-Noy (President Aquino) has achieved—many Filipinos enjoy these.”
Kris relished being chosen to deliver the message for the family, saying she’s now “quiet” and “the good girl,” while the President had become “outspoken.”
Asked in an interview after the Mass about her remarks, Kris said: “I just said that times have really changed in three years. Now, when they (family members) want a speech that will not be controversial, I am asked to speak (for the family). So I said, ‘Uy (Oh), how nice! I’m now the good girl and I become the quiet Aquino now.’ So I am very happy. In the past, I was the one being told to, ‘Shhhhh! (keep quiet).’”
Kris said she would not be able to attend the unveiling of her mother’s bust at the Edsa Shrine later in the day because it was not part of her itinerary for the day.
‘Losing and finding life’
Arevalo’s homily delved on the thoughts of the former President while she was battling colon cancer, which eventually took her life on Aug. 1, 2009.
Arevalo, reading the speeches delivered by the former President, found that “one of them is about the power—how people power came from Senator Ninoy—that it was because he had given his life for his people; that after his passing … he gave the power to awaken people power in our country.”
Arevalo said: “And she says in that speech that it was because he had given his life for his people that this power was given to him. I often think of that when I come here to the cemetery … that there is a power that comes from Tita Cory and Senator Ninoy precisely because they gave their lives for the country.”
Arevalo recalled that somewhere in that speech, Cory quoted a text from the Bible (Mark 8:35-36) to explain how losing one’s life could lead to eternal life.
“Those who keep their lives to themselves lose it. But those who give their lives find it—those who give their lives for Jesus and for the sake of the gospel find it unto life everlasting,” Arevalo said.
“That does not mean that they go to heaven and (have) the peace and joy in heaven,” he went on. “But that fullness of the power of the resurrection, which Jesus has after the Resurrection … they’re sharing that, and that the gift of their life gives life for others.”
Tale of two heroes
“Here we have the two great heroes in our country who gave their lives,” Arevalo said. “Ninoy gave it literally in giving his life at the airport (in 1983), and that gift of life enabled a whole nation, in a few years after that, to come together to bring life for our country.”
Arevalo said, “I have observed that I want to remember Tita Cory in the last days of her life not as she was so beautifully laid out in the coffin … but the way she was in the last days of her life.”
He recalled the former President telling close friends that “she was offering her sickness and her suffering to her country as a gift.”
“And so that gift continues to give life for our people,” Arevalo said. “The heritage has been passed onto President Noy, and those of you who are close to him know that he is also giving his life,” he said.
Arevalo disclosed that one day, while he was talking with Ballsy, she said to him, “My brother is willing to give his life for his people.”
“And he is giving his life for his people also,” Arevalo said.
‘Light the fire’
Arevalo emphasized that what they were celebrating during the Mass was “the power of the risen Christ [that] passes through their instrumentality through their (Aquinos’) hands for the continuing work that they are doing for our people.”
Arevalo said: “It was not just doing a job or fulfilling their responsibilities. Their gift of themselves was because they love our people. So I think our coming together is not an empty ceremony. It’s a lighting of the fire again; it’s a rekindling of the fire in our own hearts that we ask that through their prayers, now that they are with the Lord, they may light a fire in our hearts and give us something: a little bit of the love that they had for our country and our people, not for themselves.”
Message from Binay
Vice President Jejomar Binay joined the nation in remembering Corazon Aquino Wednesday.
“I’m one with the Filipino nation in commemorating the death of our beloved former President Corazon Aquino,” Binay said in a statement. “I will always look back to the good example she set for public servants, her graciousness of spirit and strong faith in God.”
Cory Aquino appointed Binay mayor of Makati City after the People Power Revolution in February 1986. Binay stayed with Mrs. Aquino in her opposition to the rule of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Manila honors Cory
In Manila, Mayor Alfredo Lim led the city in commemorating the third death anniversary of Cory Aquino.
Lim led yellow-clad supporters of Mrs. Aquino in laying a wreath at her monument at the Ninoy-Cory Aquino Park at Burgos Street and Bonifacio Drive in Ermita district.
“I hope the example she set for public servants will serve as a standard for our officials today, even in the private sector,” Lim said. With reports from Tarra Quismundo and Jamie Marie Elona