MANILA, Philippines ? Enshrined in the hearts of Filipinos, Corazon Aquino will also soon be immortalized in concrete and steel.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the immediate construction of a monument in honor of the late President?s contributions to Philippine democracy, Malacañang said Thursday.
The statue of Aquino will be erected at Rizal Park in Manila where the monument to national hero Jose Rizal also stands.
?With this monument, our nation will honor for posterity the memory of an extraordinary woman who united our people for one shining week in February 1986 and presided over the rebirth of democracy,? deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez said, reading from a statement.
?We have long honored Tita Cory in our hearts, and now we will celebrate in deathless lineaments of concrete and steel the life and passage of a national heroine for the constant reminder of future generations.?
Golez said the construction would be completed in six months and would be facilitated by the National Historical Institute (NHI).
He made the announcement on the eve of the death anniversary of Aquino?s husband, former Sen. Benigno ?Ninoy? Aquino Jr., who was assassinated at the Manila airport on Aug. 21, 1983, upon his return from voluntary US exile.
Ironies of history
?I am pleased to announce that the President has ordered the immediate construction of a monument to the late President Corazon Aquino at Rizal Park,? Golez said.
Ms Arroyo?s decision to erect a monument to Aquino may be one of the ironies of Philippine history.
Aquino was among those who called for Ms Arroyo to resign at the height of the ?Hello Garci? scandal in 2005. The scandal was sparked by allegations that Ms Arroyo and then Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano conspired to rig the results of the 2004 presidential election, a charge Ms Arroyo denied.
In her last years, Aquino was a vocal critic of Ms Arroyo who, like her, assumed office through a military-backed people?s revolt.
Aquino was, in fact, among those who helped pave the way for Ms Arroyo?s assumption of the presidency in 2001.
Up to NHI
Golez said the NHI would determine the details of the project, including where the monument specifically would rise. There was also no word on who would build it.
Golez did not say why the Palace had chosen Rizal Park as the location, and not Makati, where a statue of Aquino?s late husband stood at the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue.
Golez could not say, either, if the Luneta venue indicated by putting Aquino?s monument in the park where Rizal?s monument stood, Malacañang also regarded the late President as a national hero.
Aquino, 76, passed away on Aug. 1 after a long battle with colon cancer.
Shortly after Aquino died, some lawmakers in the House of Representatives proposed she be declared a national hero, an idea Malacañang said it was open to.
Don?t overshadow Rizal
An official of the NHI and another official of the Department of Tourism (DoT) said plans to build a monument to Aquino at Rizal Park should be carefully studied.
The two officials spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity, saying they had not seen the details of the proposed monument and could not give an official comment.
The NHI official, who did not want to be identified because he had no authority to speak on the matter, said he had discussed the matter unofficially with other officials but they decided to wait for the final word from Malacañang.
He said that while the NHI was willing to help in the conceptualization and construction of the monument, the ?appropriateness? of the location should also be studied.
?Rizal Park was built to honor our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Any monument to Ms Aquino built there should not be too grand to overshadow the Rizal monument,? the NHI official said, adding the park was already cluttered with monuments to assorted heroes.
Not yet final
He recalled the controversy ignited by the construction of a statue of Mactan chieftain Lapu-Lapu at the eastern part of the park near Taft Avenue. Lapu-Lapu?s statue towered over the Rizal monument, displeasing many historians and heritage conservationists.
The DoT official said the location of the proposed Aquino monument was not yet final as far as he knew and, thus, he did not want to be identified by name. He also said the concept of such a monument had yet to be developed.
?I don?t know how Cory would be treated. Would the monument honor her as a president or in tandem with Benigno Aquino Jr.?? the DoT official asked.
If Cory Aquino would be honored as President, he suggested Roxas Boulevard as the place for the monument.
He said the boulevard was being popularized by the DoT as a sort of ?president?s lane,? which has statues and monuments to former Presidents Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino, Jose Laurel, and Ramon Magsaysay.
Roxas Boulevard also has monuments to Senator Aquino and other historical figures, such as Joaquin Roces, Leon Ma. Guerrero, Gen. Vicente Lim and Carlos P. Romulo.
Either Manila or Makati
If the Cory Aquino monument would be built in tandem, the DoT official said that of Aquino would be ?paired off? with either of her husband?s statues in Manila and Makati.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim announced earlier this month that City Hall would build a monument to Cory Aquino on the corner of Roxas Boulevard and P. Burgos Drive. The area, which is part of the Rizal Park, is opposite to the monument to Ninoy Aquino.