MANILA, Philippines?From being stable in the past weeks, the condition of the cancer-stricken Corazon Aquino has been ?guarded? since Monday afternoon, according to her son Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III.
But the former President continues to fight, surprising even her doctors, the senator told reporters Tuesday.
In a statement, he said: ?The doctors are continuously monitoring her blood pressure, which has been fluctuating.
?She is presently asleep, comfortable and not in pain.?
Speaking with reporters later in the Senate, Noynoy Aquino said he found out when he returned to the hospital on Monday afternoon that his mother?s blood pressure had turned ?erratic.?
Noynoy Aquino said doctors had earlier told the family that their mother had only three months to live. He said she was not told of the prognosis but had surpassed it by 17 months now.
He described it as ?a miracle,? pointing out that ?no one can say exactly? when a person would pass on.
The senator admitted that the former President suffered a ?serious episode? last weekend, and that this triggered the fluctuations in her blood pressure.
?The doctors have been saying they were surprised by Mommy?s fighting spirit ... and we too are surprised,? he said.
He said it improved on Monday night but again fluctuated?a problem that his mother?s doctors were now addressing.
The senator said he and his four sisters continued to ensure that their mother would be ?comfortable and not in pain.?
He also apologized for the family?s reluctance to disclose their mother?s condition to the media.
?Our priority was to take care of the needs of our mother,? he said, adding that the doctors would soon issue a comprehensive report on her condition.
It was only two weeks ago that the former President?s youngest daughter, TV host Kris Aquino, admitted that her mother?s colon cancer was already on stage 4 when diagnosed by doctors in March 2008.
Aquino, 76, has been confined at Makati Medical Center for over a month now for loss of appetite and general weakness.
Cancer treatment has been stopped, but she continues to be under pain medication.
Ousted President Joseph Estrada was reported on radio as having visited Aquino before 8 Tuesday night.
According to his media relations officer Ferdie Ramos, Estrada entered the hospital through the basement and went straight to the ninth floor to avoid reporters and news crews positioned at the main entrance.
Ramos said the visit lasted about 17 minutes.
Reached later by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Estrada said he was not able to see Aquino and was met only by Noynoy and Kris. ?I would have wanted to tell her she is loved by poor Filipinos,? Estrada said.
Noynoy Aquino also admitted having misunderstood what one of the doctors meant in saying that he could make the former President ?well.?
?Making someone well is different from curing someone,? he said, adding that what the doctor actually meant was that he would ensure ?the quality of the life? of his mother.
Two weeks ago, the doctors asked the former President to receive chemotherapy again, but she declined.
?She said, ?Not at this time,?? Noynoy Aquino said. He said this did not mean that his mother had given up the fight, only that she wanted to regain her strength first.
He said that since a stronger painkiller was administered to his mother last week, she had been sleeping most of the time.
Communication with her now is ?one-way,? the senator said.
?I just whisper things to her,? he said, having been advised by the doctors that his mother could hear even then.
Closer to God
Noynoy Aquino said he would return to the hospital after attending Tuesday?s session because he ?wanted to maximize? his time with his mother.
Elsewhere, the woman known as the heroine of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution continued to make people turn to God and believe in the power of prayer.
?Her condition draws the Filipino people closer to God,? Fr. Sonny de Claro said in a homily at the Mass he celebrated at Manila City Hall at noon Tuesday.
The original weeklong daily healing Masses organized by the Manila government has been extended by another week. Mayor Alfredo Lim ordered the extension, saying that ?prayers must constantly be offered for the ultimate recovery? of Aquino.
?The Filipino people have become prayerful,? De Claro said. ?People from all walks of life?the rich and the poor, the young and old alike?are all praying for the former President.?
Mother of nation
?Even in times of difficulty, she has been showing her being a good seed,? he said, explaining that the Masses did not only benefit Aquino but also all the people that she had brought closer to God.
?Cory is a mother, and she used to be a mother of our nation. And it?s true what they say about mothers: When they are the ones in need, everybody unites to help,? De Claro said.
Apart from the healing Masses, Lim has also asked the public to offer hourly prayers for Aquino and to display yellow ribbons outside their homes as a sign of their support.
?I urge everyone to continue praying for her until she recovers. We still need her,? Lim said.
At another Mass celebrated at Sto. Niño De Paz Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati, and organized by the Makati Business Club, Fr. Joseph Alonzo spoke about Aquino?s humility and her undying service to the country.
He told those present, who mostly wore yellow ribbons, that the former President was like the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
?She is our new living saint because she has endured so much pain for the love of her children, country and God,? he said.
Alonzo said that even in prayer, Aquino exercised the utmost humility.
?We normally see her sitting at the farthest corner of the chapel,? he said. ?Indeed, Cory is blessed as she is bringing many of us closer to God as we offer this healing Mass for her.?
Speaking with reporters after the Mass, Aquino nephew Rafael Lopa said the family was ?prepared for any eventuality,? and had entrusted everything to God.
Mass for national unity
Yet another healing Mass was held Tuesday noon at Santo Niño Church in Tacloban City.
Attended by students of various Catholic schools and some city officials, the Mass was their way of seeking divine intervention for the former President, according to Billy Roseño of the Friends of Cory-Tacloban chapter.
Roseño?s group organized the Mass officiated by Msgr. Benjamin Bacierra, Santo Niño parish priest and vicar general of the Palo archdiocese.
In his homily, Bacierra asked the faithful to offer prayers for Aquino. ?We?re asking God that she be able to [find] strength and increase her hope and faith in the Lord [as she battles her ailment],? he said.
Bacierra expressed hope that the healing Masses being offered by various groups and sectors would not only lead to the restoration of Aquino?s health but also pave the way for the unity of the country that was ?broken by selfishness.?
On Saturday, Northern Samar Gov. Raul Daza said he too had been offering prayers for the former President who appointed him in 1986 as a commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
?We need a miracle, and miracles do happen,? Daza said. With reports from Tina G. Santos, Fe Zamora and Niña Catherine Calleja in Manila; Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas